Texas Lender Colony Ridge Sued By CFPB, DOJ

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of Justice are suing developer and lender Colony Ridge, alleging it targeted Hispanic borrowers with “bait-and-switch” land sales and predatory loans. The lawsuit claims Colony Ridge gave borrowers inaccurate information about homesites and coerced them into loans they could not afford, according to the CFPB’s press release. “Our investigation uncovered that Colony Ridge is baiting borrowers with lies, saddling families with predatory loans for homesites that the company knows have repeatedly flooded with raw sewage and lacked basic utility infrastructure,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. Colony Ridge allegedly sold families flood-prone land without water, sewer, or electrical infrastructure. They are being charged with violating the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act. …

CFPB Director Calls For End To Big Bank Bailouts

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it’s time to take big bank bailouts off the table. Rohit Chopra shared his candid opinions on the subject during the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention and expo last week during an on-stage conversation with MBA President and CEO Bob Broeksmit. Chopra said although the financial system is dependent on the banking system operating day-to-day without interruption, he doesn’t think the public should be on the hook for bailing banks out when they get into trouble. “Banks, especially big banks, get a lot of benefits from the public. Big subsidies, direct and indirect, and I don’t think the public should be on the hook for bailing them out…

Mortgage Applicants Denied For Insufficient Income At Increasing Rates

As affordability sank in 2022, potential buyers struggled against rising fees and were denied loans for a lack of income, according to a new analysis from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mortgage applications and originations declined last year as the market corrected from the low-rate-fueled pandemic housing boom. At the same time, affordability sunk to new lows, fees rose more than 20% YOY, and borrowers faced rising monthly costs. “The higher interest rate environment had profound effects on the mortgage market in 2022, with borrowers paying much more in monthly payments,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said. “These trends are likely to continue given further increases in interest rates in 2023.” Today, the national median payment applied for by purchase applicants…

Freedom Mortgage To Pay $1.75M For Illegal Kickbacks

Freedom Mortgage has been sanctioned by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for providing illegal incentives to real estate brokers and agents for mortgage loan referrals. The CFPB says Freedom offered agents and brokers perks for past and future loan referrals, a violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. In at least forty cases, Freedom paid for marketing services that were never performed by the brokerages, which the CFPB says amounts to paying for referrals. RESPA particularly addresses illegal marketing service agreements, and the CFPB released detailed guidelines on their use in 2020. Agents who worked with Freedom were also incentivized through paid subscription services offering important industry data, but they typically had to agree to be paired with a…

Lending Trends In The Rural South

For borrowers in the rural South, getting a mortgage is tricky. A new analysis from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau found that consumers in hard-to-reach areas of the South have a tough time accessing credit. Southern rural consumers apply for mortgages at the same rate as consumers nationwide – 19 applications per 1,000 residents – but are more likely to be denied, with 27% of their applications shot down compared to 11% nationally. They also pay higher rates than borrowers in other regions, averaging 3.51% in 2021 compared to 3.12% nationally.  The rural South does have high levels of poverty, which can translate to poor credit scores. Almost half of the country’s persistent poverty counties – where 20% of the…

Veros Say Its Automated Valuation Model Isn’t Biased

Veros Real Estate Solutions, an enterprise risk management and collateral valuation services company, released new research that shows its Automated Valuation Model does not discriminate based on redlining. Experts have recently sounded the alarm on bias in home appraisals. Studies have shown that homes occupied by Black Americans are consistently undervalued compared to similar homes with white owners. Automated home appraisals are supposed to reduce the problem by removing human biases altogether, but concerns persist that the algorithm, fed human-produced data, can reproduce these problems. Further, they may be harder to spot because of the apparent objectivity of the technology. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau introduced a rule intended to safeguard homeowners against this issue earlier this month. “While machines…

Zombie Mortgages: CFPB Warns Against Illegal Time-Barred Debt Collection

Officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have issued a reminder about zombie mortgages, saying threatening homeowners regarding uncollected time-barred debts violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The guidance warns that it is illegal for debt collectors to threaten foreclosure on silent second mortgages with statutes of limitations that have expired. “Some debt collectors, who sat silent for a decade, are now pursuing homeowners on zombie mortgages inflated with interest and fees,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “We are making clear that threatening to sue to collect on expired zombie mortgage debt is illegal.” The CFPB points to “piggyback” mortgages in particular, also known as 80/20 loans. Homebuyers would be given a first lien loan for 80% of the…

CFPB Warns Of Double Dealing On Digital Mortgage Comparison Shopping Platforms

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are warning shoppers about pay-to-play mortgage comparison shopping platforms. CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in a statement on Tuesday that given current mortgage interest rates, it is important for homebuyers to shop and compare loan offers. “We are working to ensure that online platforms are not manipulating their search results in order to coerce kickbacks from lenders,” Chopra said. Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hovered just above 6% last week. In a press release, CFPB officials said that American consumers looking for the best deal on mortgages often turn to comparison-shopping platforms and mobile apps. “Many of the websites and applications claim to offer ranked lists of providers suitable…

Wells Fargo Earnings Down By 50% YOY In Q4 2022

Wells Fargo’s net earnings dropped in Q4 2022, pushed down by a settlement and the pressures of a shrinking economy. The bank announced that its net income fell to $2.86 billion, or 67 cents a share. This is half of its profits from the same time last year, which came in at $5.75 billion, $1.38 per share. Leaders at Wells Fargo noted that the decline was driven by the fall-off in mortgage demand. Its home lending was down 57% from Q4 2021. The bank announced this week that it is narrowing its home lending business, exiting the correspondent lending channel and shrinking its servicing portfolio. This move will force a round of layoffs, but it is unclear how many jobs…

Morning Roundup (3/21/2022)– CFPB Targets Unfair Discrimination, Existing-Home Sales

Good Morning! Today is Monday, March 21. Wheat, corn, and barley are trapped in Russia and Ukraine, threatening a global food shortage. The Senate begins hearings today for Ketanji Brown Jackson, Biden’s Supreme Court nominee. A China Eastern Airlines flight carrying more than 130 people crashed in southern China. The Mortgage Note Reports Unfair Discrimination In Consumer Finance Targeted: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is targeting discrimination. Existing-Home Sales: Existing-home sales were down 7.2% from January to February and 2.4% from one year ago, NAR reported. Deephaven COO: Lisa Heitzmann has been appointed Chief Operating Officer at non-QM lender Deephaven Mortgage. And in other mortgage and housing news. Hispanic Homeownership: Last year was the best for Hispanic homeownership in the U.S. since 2008 by percent, but Hispanics are 81%…