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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has increased the asset-size exemption threshold for mortgage lenders under Regulation C, which implements the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). In addition, the bureau has increased the threshold for creditors to qualify for an exemption from the requirement to establish an escrow account for a higher-priced mortgage loan under Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).

Specifically, the CFPB has raised the threshold for lenders to be exempt from having to report HMDA data to $43 million. As a result, lending institutions with assets of $43 million or less are exempt from collecting HMDA data starting in 2014.

The CFPB notes that lenders who qualify for the exemption are still required to report data collected in 2013.

HMDA data are used to help determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities and to assist in identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns.

In addition, the CFPB increased the threshold for the requirement to establish escrow accounts for higher-priced mortgage loans to $2.028 billion.

This means lenders with assets of $2.028 billion or less, but which meet other requirements established under Regulation Z, will be exempt from having to establish escrow accounts for higher-priced mortgage loans in 2014.

The CFPB explains in a press release that this threshold is set each year based on the annual percentage increase in the average of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

The adjustment to the asset-size threshold will also increase the threshold for small-creditor and balloon payment qualified mortgages under Regulation Z.

In September, the CFPB introduced a set of Web-based tools to provide consumers with easier access to public mortgage data collected under HMDA.

The bureau claims these new tools can help lenders determine how well they are serving the housing needs of their communities. In addition, they provide public officials with information that they can use to make decisions and set policies. What's more, the tools can be used for detecting discriminatory practices in lending.

Insititutions which violate the CFPB's HMDA disclosures rules can face harsh penalities. In October, the bureau ordered Walpole, Mass.-based Mortgage Master Inc. to pay $425,000 in penalties for "significant data errors" in the 21,015 mortgage loan applications it reported for 2011.

In addition, Seattle-based Washington Federal was ordered to pay $34,000 in penalties for significant errors in the 5,785 mortgage loan applications it reported for 2011.

Besides the fines, both banks were ordered to correct and resubmit their 2011 HMDA data, as well as to develop and implement effective compliance management systems to prevent future violations.




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