Officials: Beware Of Scammers, How To Get Help After Hurricane Ian

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency are warning survivors of Hurricane Ian they should be aware of con artists and criminals looking to take advantage of the situation. Predators may promise homeowners a disaster grant in return for payment or fill out an application for assistance without a person’s knowledge, according to the FEMA website. “If a FEMA Inspector comes to your home and you did not submit a FEMA application, your information may have been used without your knowledge to create a FEMA application. If so, please inform the inspector that you did not apply for FEMA assistance so they can submit a request to stop further processing of the application,” the website says. People…

Settlement: Architect Will Pay For Retrofit Of Properties Inaccessible To The Disabled

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Eight senior living facilities that are inaccessible to the disabled will be retrofitted as part of a settlement between officials at the U.S. Justice Department and a New Jersey architecture firm. According to a press release issued on Thursday, the owner of J. Randolph Parry Architects P.C. has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that it violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to design and construct senior living facilities that are accessible to people with disabilities. The retrofits will, among other things, make the kitchens and bathrooms at these properties more accessible and useable. “The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing the federal laws guaranteeing people with disabilities…

CFPB Seeking Public Input To Help Homeowners In Mortgage Market

By TMN Editor The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants the public to weigh in on ways to improve the mortgage process for homeowners who would benefit from refinancing. They are especially looking for borrowers with smaller loan balances. CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in a statement that the mortgage market has not provided products that allow all households to save money by refinancing at a lower interest rate. “We are eager for input on ways that borrowers taking out loans today can refinance to lower rates in the future,” Chopra said. According to a press release, the agency is also looking for input on automatic short-term and long-term loss mitigation assistance for homeowners who experience financial disruptions. For more information,…

Metaverse Concerns: How Do You Secure A Virtual World?

By TYRONE TOWNSEND and KIMBERLEY HAAS The metaverse is attracting a lot of attention from real estate investors, but they are not the only ones looking to the virtual world for a source of profit. Criminals are watching as well. Non-fungible tokens are reportedly the target of widespread criminal activity, with schemes including fraudulent giveaways, browser wallet hacks, and social engineering, posing risks to participants. Scams, in general, such as fake airdrops and phishing URLs, are also a cause for concern. The theft of cryptographic assets is expected to account for more than 99 percent of all illicit activities.   How much money are we talking about here? The metaverse is expected to be worth $13 trillion by 2030, according to…

Bad Behavior In Lending: Sham Job Interviews, “Rampant” Fraud

By CHUCK GREEN Alleged bad behavior and fraudulent activity in the mortgage industry have made news headlines in recent years and despite attempts to get lending leaders to shape up their ships, at least one person who reports on these issues says problems are common, even “rampant.” One of the most recent examples of these alleged incidents involved sham job interviews for Black and female candidates at Wells Fargo & Company. Wells Fargo in California has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets. They serve one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of small businesses in the United States. According to former executive Joe Bruno, company leaders at Wells Fargo allegedly put minority candidates through the interview process for positions…

Inflation Hits Builders As America Faces Housing Crisis

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The executive director of the New Hampshire Home Builders Association says the biggest problem they are currently facing is unstable prices due to inflation. In a recent interview with The Mortgage Note, Matt Mayberry explained that contractors are trying to stay within their budgets on projects but it is difficult because prices are volatile due to inflation and supply chain issues. It’s also difficult to bid on upcoming work. “How do we estimate jobs correctly? What are the metrics we use to do this?” Mayberry said. One thing that has improved, Mayberry said, is the waiting time for projects to be completed. During the pandemic, many projects were pushed out to a year and a half for…

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Tours South Carolina Lowcountry to Highlight Investments in Rural Communities

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu toured South Carolina’s Lowcountry to gain insight into the financial needs of rural communities on Friday. During the day-long event, Hsu met with local leaders, businesses, and non-profits to discuss how bank partnerships with community development financial institutions and community-focused rural groups support economic development, particularly for communities of color, according to a press release. The South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development hosted the event, which included a visit to The Opportunity Center, an innovative space that provides workforce development, small business incubators, and workspaces for entrepreneurs and start-ups, and houses offices of local non-profits. Hsu’s tour also included visits to small businesses in Hollywood and to an affordable housing developer…

“It Would Defy Logic”: Advocates Push Back Against TD-First Horizon Merger

Consumer advocates and Democratic leaders are asking U.S. regulatory bodies to block TD Bank’s takeover of First Horizon Bank. The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) and Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund sent a letter to the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency asking them to reject a proposed merger between TD Bank and First Horizon Bank. Their letter highlights reasons why regulators should stop the merger, pointing out misconduct by TD Bank and an “exacerbation of the ‘too-big-to-fail’ problem.” Other advocacy groups signed the letter in support. Toronto-Dominion Bank, a Canadian company, announced a plan earlier this year to acquire Memphis, TN-based First Horizon for $13.4 billion in cash. The Bank Merger Act requires the…

Opinion: Community Home Lenders Of America To Influence Mortgage Policies In Washington

Editor’s Note: This article was written by a contributor and contains the individual’s views, opinions, or personal experiences. Last week, we announced the merger of the Community Mortgage Lenders of America and theCommunity Home Lenders Association under a renamed Community Home Lenders of America (CHLA). To date, both organizations have represented a similar profile of members and have historically taken similar policy positions. After extended discussion, we both concluded that combining CMLA and CHLA would mean more members, more financial resources, and more combined staff. This would enhance our ability to influence mortgage policies in Washington and explain the key role community lenders and in particular smaller independent mortgage banks (IMBs)—play in mortgage lending. Policy fights in Washington are not…

Bank Accounting Advisory Series Updated

By ISAIAS PACHECO Leaders at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have released their annual update to the Bank Accounting Advisory Series. The link can be found here. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is an independent bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The OCC charters, regulates, and supervises all national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks, according to their website. A press release issued last week says this edition of the BAAS reflects updates to clarify the application of accounting standards issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board on topics including the amortization of premiums on debt securities with a call option over a preset period and…