The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau identified in a recent blog post some of the key fair lending priorities its staff will focus on in 2017.
According to the post, the bureau has worked hard over the past five years to ensure consumers are not excluded from or made to pay more for mortgages, auto loans or credit cards because of their race or ethnicity.
In 2017, the CFPB’s fair lending priorities will include:
• Redlining. The bureau will continue to evaluate whether lenders have intentionally avoided lending in minority neighborhoods.
• Mortgage and Student Loan Servicing. The agency will determine whether some borrowers who are behind on their mortgage or student loan payments may have more difficulty working out a new solution with the servicer because of their race or ethnicity.
• Small Business Lending. The CFPB will take steps to ensure fair access to credit for women-owned and minority-owned businesses that may experience discrimination when they apply for credit.
To read more about the bureau’s fair lending priorities, visit http://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/fair-lending-priorities-new-year/.
Mortgage interest rates continue to climb
Mortgage rates moved higher for the ninth consecutive week, Freddie Mac announced in its final Primary Mortgage Market Survey of 2016 for the week ending Dec. 29.
Despite the recent jump in mortgage rates since the presidential election, the annual average for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.65% in 2016, the lowest annual average ever recorded in the survey dating back to 1971, according to a Freddie Mac news release. For the week ending Dec. 29, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.32%, up from the previous week when it averaged 4.30%. At the same time a year ago, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.01%.
“As mortgage rates continue to increase, home sales and affordability will continue to be a concern for housing in 2017,” Sean Becketti, chief economist with Freddie Mac, said in the release.
CFPB unveils Consumer Credit Trends tool
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently unveiled Consumer Credit Trends, a web-based tool to help the public monitor developments in consumer lending and forecast potential future risks. The beta version of the tool covers the mortgage, credit card, auto loan and student loan markets.
The CFPB plans to update this information regularly, and will offer analyses on notable findings. The information included in the Consumer Credit Trends tool reflects changes in lender and consumer behavior and will be a starting point for deeper analysis by the CFPB and others.
The first Consumer Credit Trends release shows a sharp uptick in mortgage originations from August to October compared with last year, as well as growth in credit card lending to lower-income consumers, fewer auto loans to borrowers with lower credit scores, and a slight slowdown of new student loans.
The Consumer Credit Trends tool can be found at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/data-research/consumer-credit-trends/.
HUD announces new housing counseling certification requirements
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it will require housing counselors participating in HUD programs to be certified to offer counseling services to consumers.
To become certified, housing counselors must pass a standardized written examination and work for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency. Counselors must demonstrate competency in the following areas of housing counseling: (1) financial management; (2) property maintenance; (3) responsibilities of homeownership and tenancy; (4) fair housing laws and requirements; (5) housing affordability; and (6) avoidance of, and responses to, rental and mortgage delinquency and avoidance of eviction and mortgage default.
HUD’s final rule will take full effect three years following the release of the certification examination. To help counselors prepare for the exam, the department is offering intensive training and study resources in English and Spanish including a practice test. The actual certification test is expected to be published in the spring of 2017.
To download a copy of the final rule, read frequently asked questions, and review the list of HUD programs covered under the rule, visit https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/housing-counseling/certification.