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MAINE MORTGAGE LENDING FREQUENTLY-ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ’S)

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Compiled by the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection and the Bureau of Financial Institutions

INTRODUCTION

Laws to protect Maine consumers from predatory mortgage lending practices took effect January 1, 2008. Since then, “An Act to Conform State Mortgage Laws with Federal Laws” took effect on June 11, 2009. These comprehensive revisions of lending statutes apply to “residential mortgage loans,” including home equity lines of credit.

 

These questions and answers are designed to provide guidance for borrowers, lenders and loan brokers, in order to better understand and comply with the new state laws.

 

 

1) RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LOANS

 

 

The new law applies to “residential mortgage loans”: A residential mortgage loan can mean a first or subordinate lien on residential real property. A residential mortgage loan may include purchase-money loans, refinancing, and home equity lines of credit. The term does not include construction loans or temporary financings, (i.e., bridge loans), reverse mortgage transactions or loans made primarily for business, agricultural or commercial purposes.

 

Are “bridge” loans considered to be higher-priced mortgage loans?

No. Bridge loans do not fall within the definition of a federally-related mortgage loan (http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/rules/6500-2520.html#6500res3500.2) and thus are not considered residential mortgage loans. Because they are not residential mortgage loans, they cannot be considered higher-priced mortgage loans.

 

Do these laws apply to rental properties or second homes?

No. The laws only apply to residential mortgage loans in which the loan is secured by the borrower’s principal dwelling. However, the laws may apply to a rental property to the extent that the rental property is also the borrower’s principal dwelling and designed for no more than four families.

 

Is a loan for a manufactured home that is placed on leased or rented land, such as a lot in a mobile home park, a "residential mortgage loan"?

No. In order for a loan to be a "residential mortgage loan," it must be a "federally-related mortgage loan." A "federally-related mortgage loan" is a loan that is secured by a first or subordinate lien on residential real property. However, the Bureaus wish to emphasize that, if a loan for a manufactured home is secured by residential real property, the loan may meet the definition of a "federally-related mortgage loan" and therefore, may be a "residential mortgage loan."

 

 

 

 

 

2) HIGHER PRICED MORTGAGE LOANS VS. HIGH RATE HIGH FEE LOANS

 

What is a higher-priced mortgage loan?

Prior to Maine mortgage laws being amended, the term “subprime mortgage loan” was used. That old term has now been replaced by the new term, “higher-priced mortgage loan.” A higher-priced mortgage loan is either a “non-traditional” mortgage loan (meaning, generally, a loan that allows a borrower to defer interest or principal), or a rate-spread mortgage loan, meaning that that the loan exceeds the average prime offer rate by 1.5 or more percentage points for loans secured by a first lien on a dwelling, or by 3.5 or more percentage points for loans secured by a subordinate lien on a dwelling.

 

 

Are Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) included in the definition of a higher priced mortgage loan?

Only those simultaneous second lien HELOCs that permit the borrower to defer the payment of interest or principal, as well as any HELOC that meets the applicable high-rate high-fee thresholds set forth in 8-103 (1-A)(FF) of the new law, are included in the definition of a “higher priced mortgage loan.” As a result of P.L. 2007 chapter 471, "An Act Relating to Mortgage Lending and Credit Availability" this answer modifies Advisory Ruling #111 (See AR #111, Exclusion of HELOCs from definition of “subprime loan” (now “higher priced mortgage loan”) See also Advisory Ruling # [117]) [http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/advisory_rulings/AR111.doc] and [117]). Simultaneous second HELOCs that are “convenience” HELOCs as described in Advisory Ruling #116 are not higher priced mortgage loans if a) the convenience HELOC is not drawn at closing to satisfy first mortgage lender’s equity requirement, or to avoid payment of PMI and b) the combined LTV of first and second lien is 90% or less.

 

 

Are prime rate, stated-income loans restricted by the new law?

No. The restrictions against stated-income loans (namely, that the file must contain evidence of ability to repay the loan), extend only to higher priced mortgage loans and high-rate, high-fee loans.

 

 

Are all adjustable rate mortgage loans higher priced mortgage loans?

No. Adjustable rates do not automatically make a loan a higher priced mortgage loan. Higher priced mortgage loans are either “rate spread home loans” that must be reported under the law, loans that permits the deferral or principal or interest (such as an interest-only 2/28 ARM or 3/27 ARM), or high-rate high-fee loans. Please note that the definition of “rate spread home loan” in § 8-103(1-A)(V) has been amended by “An Act to Conform State Mortgage Laws with Federal Laws” to reflect the new rate thresholds, using the “average price offer rate,” effective October 1, 2009.

 

How do I determine if a loan isa higher priced mortgage loan?

You can determine if the loan you’re making is higher priced mortgage loan by the following method: 

 

 

Method for Determining if a Mortgage is a higher priced mortgage loan

 

1. Is the loan secured by the borrower’s principal dwelling?

 

  • YES: Continue with Question 2.

 

  • NO: This is not a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

 

2. Does the loan amount exceed the FNMA/FHLMC conforming loan limit?

 

  • NO: Continue with Question 3.

 

  • YES: This is not a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

 

3. Is the loan a reverse mortgage?

 

  • NO: Continue with Question 4.

 

  • YES: This is not a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

 

4. Is the loan made primarily for business, agricultural or commercial purposes?

 

  • NO: Continue with Question 5.

 

  • YES: This is not a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

 

5. Is the loan a construction loan?

 

  • NO: Continue with Question 6.

 

  • YES: This is not a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

 

6. Is the loan a home equity line of credit (HELOC)?

 

  • NO: Continue with Question 7.

 

  • YES: Is the loan being executed simultaneously with a first-lien mortgage?

 

  • YES: Continue with Question 7.

 

  • NO: Does the loan meet the criteria of a “high rate, high fee” loan (HOEPA/Section 32 mortgage)?

 

  • YES: This IS a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

  • NO: This is not a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

 

7. Does the loan allow a borrower to defer repayment of principal or interest (for example, payment option ARM or interest-only mortgage)?

 

  • NO: Continue with Question 8.

 

  • YES: This IS a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

 

8. Is the loan a subordinate-lien mortgage?

 

  • NO: Continue with Question 9.

 

  • YES:  With respect to loans that borrowers have applied for before October 1, 2009, is the rate spread between the APR and the applicable Treasury security yield equal to or greater than 5 percentage points (see note below)?* With respect to loans that borrowers have applied for on or after October 1, 2009, is the rate spread between the APR and the “average price offer rate” (as defined in 12 CFR 226.35(a)(2)) for a comparable transaction as of the date the interest rate is set, equal to or greater than 3.5 percentage points?

 

  • YES: This IS a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

  • NO: This is not a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

 

9. With respect to loans that borrowers have applied for before October 1, 2009, is the rate spread between the APR and the applicable Treasury security yield equal to or greater than 3 percentage points (see note below)?* With respect to loans that borrowers have applied for on or after October 1, 2009, is the rate spread between the APR and the “average price offer rate” (as defined in 12 CFR 226.35(a)(2)) for a comparable transaction as of the date the interest rate is set, equal to or greater than 1.5 percentage points?

 

  • YES: This IS a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

  • NO: This is not a higher priced mortgage loan. DONE

 

*NOTE: For loans that borrowers have applied for before October 1, 2009, to determine the rate spread between the APR and the applicable Treasury security yield, use the rate spread calculator on the FFIEC’s website ( http://www.ffiec.gov/ratespread/default.aspx). If the rate spread meets or exceeds the value required to classify the loan as a higher priced mortgage loan, the calculator will return the calculated rate spread. If the rate spread does not meet or exceed the value required to classify the loan as a subprime loan, the calculator will return the value “N/A.”

 

*NOTE: Advisory Rulings #116 and [117] indicate that simultaneous second HELOCs, known as “convenience HELOCs” are not higher priced mortgage loans.

 

NOTICE TO USERS: The tool above is designed to permit lenders to determine whether a loan is a higher priced mortgage loan subject to the Tangible Net Benefit rule and the “ability to repay” standard as set forth in “An Act to Conform State Mortgage Laws with Federal Laws.” It does not determine whether a higher priced mortgage loan is also a high-rate, high fee loan.

 

 

What is a High-Rate High-Fee Mortgage?

“High-rate, high-fee mortgage" means a residential mortgage loan in which the terms of the loan meet or exceed one or more of the following thresholds:

 

 

1) Rate threshold, which is, for a residential mortgage loan, the point at which the annual percentage rate equals or exceeds the rate set forth in 12 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 226.32(a)(1)(i), without regard to whether the residential mortgage loan may be considered a “residential mortgage transaction” or an extension of “open-end credit” as those terms are set forth in 12 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 226.2; or

 

(2) The total points and fees threshold, which is:

  • For loans in which the total loan amount is $40,000 or more, the point at which the total points and fees payable in connection with the residential mortgage loan less any excluded points and fees exceed 5% of the total loan amount; and

 

  • For loans in which the total loan amount is less than $40,000, the point at which the total points and fees payable in connection with the residential mortgage loan less any excluded points and fees exceed 6% of the total loan amount.

 

 

3) ASSIGNEE LIABILITY

 

 

Assignees can be liable if certain violations are “apparent in the face of the disclosure statement;” 9-A MRSA §8-209(5). Please explain what is meant by the phrase “disclosure statement.”

The phrase “disclosure statement” refers to the final Truth-in-Lending disclosure form contained in the ultimate closing package that is provided before the credit is extended. See 8-206(1).

 

 


Is the right of rescission available to borrowers of higher priced mortgage loans?

The right of rescission is available for all residential mortgage loans that are refinances or subordinate mortgages, including higher priced mortgage loans and high-rate, high-fee loans. See 9-A MRSA 8-206(E)(4).

 

Does the law create liability for assignees of mortgages other than high-rate, high-fee mortgages?

The law excludes general assignee liability for mortgage loans that are not high-rate, high fee loans. This exclusion represents the Legislature’s intent to free purchasers and assignees of loans other than high-rate, high-fee loans from most secondary market liability concerns.

 

Does 9-A §8-206-E(5), which states that the remedies found in §8-206-E (the high rate, high fee loan section) are not intended to be exclusive remedies for the borrower, create an argument that §8-209(5) could be used to create assignee liability other than that specifically provided in § 8-206-E?

The Legislature’s intent was to avoid creating additional assignee liability other than with respect to high-rate, high-fee loans. It is the view of the Bureaus that the language in §8-206-E(5) does not apply the penalties of §8-206-E to assignees through §8-209(5). Assignee liability under section §8-209(5) is limited only to that arising from violations apparent on the face of the disclosure statement.

 

 

4) DEFINITION OF POINTS AND FEES

 

Is there a difference between Maine and Federal law in terms of what constitutes points and fees?

Yes. Pursuant to §8-103(1-A)(U), “points and fees” under Maine law include all items set forth in 12 CFR 226.32(b)(1) plus prepayment fees and penalties as set forth in §8-103(1-A)(U).

 

 

5) INTEREST/POINTS & FEES

 

 

How is the “total loan amount” to be computed, pursuant to 9-A MRSA §8-103 (1-A), paragraphs (O) (“Excludable points and fees”), (FF) (“Threshold”) and (GG) (total loan amount”)?

Assuming the loan documents do not contradict this characterization, loan proceeds are applied first to the transaction being financed; second, to any points and fees; third, to any excludable costs; and fourth, to cash out to the borrower. (See AR #112 Computation of “Total Loan Amount” [http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/advisory_rulings/AR112.htm])

 

 

Are the seller-paid broker fees included in the points and fees calculation?

Yes. Under Maine law, “points and fees” include all compensation paid directly or indirectly to a mortgage broker from any source, including a mortgage broker that originates a loan in its own name in a table-funded transaction.

 

Are yield spread premiums included in the points and fees calculation?

Yes. See above.

Are the following exclusions from points and fees allowed: (a) up to 1 point of the FHA mortgage insurance and VA funding fee; and (2) up to 2 bona fide discount points?

Excluded points and fees in connection with a residential mortgage loan are 1% of the total loan amount attributable to bona fide fees paid to a federal or state government agency that insures payment of some portion of a residential mortgage loan, plus an amount not to exceed 2% of the total loan amount attributable to bona fide discount points or a conventional prepayment penalty.

 

 

Is there a “bright line” test for bona fide discount fees?

The new law does not provide for a specific percent that the rate must drop for the discount to be considered bona fide. Bona fide discount points mean an amount knowingly paid by a borrower for the express purpose of reducing, and which in fact does result in a bona fide reduction of, the interest rate applicable to a residential mortgage loan, as long as the undiscounted interest rate for the residential mortgage loan does not exceed the Conventional Mortgage Rate by more than 2 percentage points for a residential mortgage loan secured by a first lien or by 3.5 percentage points for a residential mortgage loan secured by a subordinated lien.

 

 

 

 

 

Should “per diem” or odd days’ interest be included when calculating points and fees?

No. (See 9-A MRSA §8-103 1-A (U), final two paragraphs.)

 

 

6) TANGIBLE NET BENEFIT

 

 

 

 

 

What loans are now subject to the tangible net benefit test set forth in the Bureaus’ tangible net benefit rule?

The tangible net benefit test applies to higher priced mortgage loans, not all residential mortgage loans. Higher priced mortgage loans include nontraditional mortgage loans, rate spread home loans and high-rate high-fee loans. Nontraditional mortgage loans are defined as those that allow a borrower to defer repayment of principal or interest. Please note that the definition of “rate spread home loan” has been amended by “An Act to Conform State Mortgage Laws with Federal Laws.”

 

 

 

 

Does the tangible net benefit rule require creditors to determine a payment for the principal loan amount only, and then add the 3-year fee amortization amount?

The new rule requires that the “monthly payment” figure for purpose of the tangible net benefit form contain an amount reflecting recoupment of costs and fees during the first 3 years of the loan. This may result in a small portion of double-counting, since a portion of the underlying payments will also represent recoupment of those fees, but over the full term of the loan.

 

 

Can a lender “back out” the existing portion of payments representing long-term amortization of costs and fees, before adding in the figure calculated for recoupment over 3 years?

Yes, if the lenders can accurately determine the amount of the monthly payment representing payment of costs and fees amortized over the full term of the loan, that amount may be deducted before the figure representing 3-year recoupment is added to the payment for purposes of the tangible net benefit form.

 

 

What is the appropriate restitution to the borrower and the appropriate adjustment to the loan under the law if a lender wishes to avoid the penalties for failing to comply with the provisions of the law applicable to high rate, high fee mortgages and residential mortgage loans, in cases in which a creditor acted in good faith?

Appropriate restitution is restitution that would place the borrower back in the position they would have been in but for the violation. Appropriate adjustment to the loan means the adjustment made to the loan so that its terms no longer violate the statute.

 

 

Can the review of the Tangible Net Benefit form with borrowers be done over the telephone, or must the review be face-to-face?

The form should be signed in person at the time it is explained to the borrower; otherwise, the import of the form may be lost. However, neither the law nor the rule requires a face-to-face explanation of the form at the time of signing.

 

 

Who is responsible for reviewing and/or updating the Tangible Net Benefit form?

The responsibility to avoid flipping (refinancing without affording a tangible net benefit to the borrower) accrues both to the loan broker (if one is used) and to the lender. The form attached as an appendix to the rule contains signature lines for both the broker and the lender. The form also indicates that, if the terms have changed during the underwriting process, then the lender needs to prepare and sign a new revised form.

 

 

7) HAVE THE BUREAUS ISSUED ANY OPINIONS OR ADVISORY RULINGS INTERPRETING THESE LAWS?

 

Yes, the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection and the Bureau of Financial Institutions have issued the following Advisory Rulings:

 

Advisory Ruling (AR) 110 - "Odd Days’” or “Per Diem” Interest (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/advisory_rulings/AR 110.doc)

Advisory Ruling (AR) 111 - Exclusion of HELOCs from definition of “sub-prime loan” (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/advisory_rulings/AR111.doc)

Advisory Ruling (AR) 112 - Computation of “Total Loan Amount” (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/advisory_rulings/AR112.htm)

Advisory Ruling (AR) 113 - “Ability to Pay” under Bureaus’ Joint Rule: Guidelines for Determining Reasonable, Tangible Net Benefit and Ability to Pay (Chapters 550 and 144) (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/advisory_rulings/AR113.htm)

Advisory Ruling (AR) 114 - Mortgage Lending: Guidelines for Determining Reasonable, Tangible Net Benefit and Ability to Pay.” and the “tangible net benefit” form. ( http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/advisory_rulings/AR114.htm)

Advisory Ruling (AR) 115 – Treatment of Construction to Permanent Loans ( http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/advisory_rulings/AR115.htm)

Advisory Ruling (AR) 116 – “ Convenience” HELOCs 

(http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/advisory_rulings/AR116.htm)

Advisory Ruling AR) 117 – The Conforming Law and its effect on previous Joint Advisory Rulings and the Tangible Net Benefit and Ability to Pay Rule

(http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/advisory_rulings/AR117.htm)

 

8) WHERE CAN I FIND A COPY OF THE HOMEOWNERS PROTECTION ACT?

 

A copy of the law can be found by clicking here (http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/chapters/PUBLIC273.asp).

 

 

9) HAVE THERE BEEN ANY LEGISLATIVE AMENDMENTS TO THE HOMEOWNER’S PROTECTION ACT?

 

Answer: Yes, Maine's predatory lending law was amended January 8, 2008 with provisions retroactive to January 1, 2008. The primary change exempts prime loans from the anti-flipping, reasonable tangible net benefit test. See the amendments by clicking here (http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/externalsiteframe.asp?ID=280027682&LD=2125&Type=1&SessionID=7). It is fully incorporated into Article VIII of the Consumer Credit Code and that Article can be found at 9-A MRSA Article VIII (http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/9-A/title9-Ach8sec0.html)

 

Maine’s predatory lending law was further amended June 11, 2009 by “An Act to Conform State Mortgage Laws with Federal Laws.

(http://www.mainelegislature.org/ros/LOM/LOM124th/124R1/PUBLIC362.asp)

 

 

10) WHERE CAN I FIND A COPY OF THE TANGIBLE NET BENEFIT RULE?

 

Answer: The tangible net benefit rule can be found at "Mortgage Lending: Guidelines for Determining Reasonable, Tangible Net Benefit " (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/rules/TangibleNetBenefitRule.rtf). Because “An Act to Conform State Mortgage Laws with Federal Laws” incorporates the federal “ability to repay” provisions, the “ability to pay” provisions of the Tangible Net Benefit Rule should be ignored. Furthermore, the ability to pay provisions of the rule should now be read in relation to “higher priced mortgage loans” rather that “subprime mortgage loans.” The Bureaus will be proposing to amend the rule accordingly.

 

 

Last Updated: February 17, 2010