The home lending and mortgage finance industry saw big gains this week on Capitol Hill, as a number of bipartisan bills from the House Financial Services Committee were passed during “Financial Independence Week.”
“The American dream for so many low and moderate income Americans is that one day they can achieve financial independence,” said Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. “We are trying to ensure that low and moderate income Americans have convenience, that they have choice, that they have lower prices.”
Among the most important was the Mortgage Choice Act, which passed by a vote of 286-140. The Mortgage Choice Act of 2015 by U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., amends and clarifies the qualified mortgage definition in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It also adjusts the Truth in Lending Act definition of fees and points by exempting points and fees on any affiliated title charges and escrow charges for taxes and insurance from the qualified mortgage cap on points and fees.
“A qualified mortgage is the gold standard of home loans. Hardworking families should not be denied access to a qualified mortgage because of technicalities that are largely out of their control," Huizenga said after the passage. "The Mortgage Choice Act enacts commonsense reforms to Dodd Frank making it possible for low- and middle-income families to achieve a portion of the American Dream.”
Another salient bill passed Tuesday was H.R. 650, the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, which supporters say ensures consumers – especially low and moderate-income consumers – can continue to have access to affordable manufactured housing. This bipartisan legislation continues existing consumer protections, including protections that prohibit steering consumers to predatory loans.
It passed the House on April 14 by a vote of 263-162.
Smaller credit unions got a boost with the passage of H.R. 299, the Capital Access for Small Community Financial Institutions Act, which allows privately insured state chartered credit unions to apply for membership in the Federal Home Loan Bank System, which would help them better serve the financial needs of consumers.
Rural lenders benefit from H.R. 1259, the Helping Expand Lending Practices in Rural Communities Act, which provides a petition process for areas to be designated as rural for the purpose of federal consumer financial laws, which could enable more loans to rural borrowers to qualify for special treatment under CFPB rules.
H.R. 1259 passed the House on April 13 by a vote of 401-1.
Al these bills now go to the Senate for the next step in the arduous lawmaking process.