What the new consumer protection bureau will do for home buyers

What the new consumer protection bureau will do for home buyers

Part of the financial reform bill signed into law by President Obama includes the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will write new rules and monitor problems and abuses in areas such as residential real estate settlements, credit scores, “truth in lending,” and equal credit opportunity.

MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY

  • Before the Bureau can begin implementing new laws to assist consumers, the president must nominate a director for the Bureau and the Senate must confirm the nominee.  While this may take time, mortgage industry leaders say some of the core changes promised by the legislation either already are in effect or should be soon.
  • Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has until Sept. 19 to designate a transfer date when key legal and regulator authorities shift from agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to the new consumer bureau.  Once that takes place, the Bureau will begin implementing the new laws.
  • One of the earliest and most widely anticipated changes expected to take effect impact home appraisals.  By law, the agency must create new interim rules on appraisal accuracy and independence to replace the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) rules imposed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2009.  Many in the real estate industry, as well as home buyers and sellers, report HVCC standards led to low home valuations that, in some instances, derailed home sales transactions.
  • A national hotline system also will be developed that will allow aggrieved mortgage borrowers and others to issue complaints and alert the Bureau to unfair and deceptive practices.
  • Rules requiring mortgage loan officers to verify mortgage applicants possess the ability to repay the loans they’re seeking also is high on the list.

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