Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Update on Virginia laws

As of July 1, 2008, Virginia has required that all employers must obtain a criminal history record from the Virginia Central Criminal Records Exchange for all new employees who have access to personal identifying or financial information from customers. The report must show that the prospective employee has not been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor involving fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in any state or under federal law. If there is such a conviction, no matter how old, you must get permission from the Bureau of Financial Institutions to hire this person. You must keep the criminal records report in the event of an examination of your books and records by the Bureau of Financial Institutions.

Employers also need to provide initial training and continuing education for all employees who are involved in the origination, marketing, underwriting, closing or quality control of Virginia loans. The initial education must be provided to all who were your employees who fit the definition that I just stated and anyone else who fits that definition who is hired after July 1, 2008. You have until May 1, 2009 to have the initial training completed for employees who were with your company on July 1, 2009. You have 90 days to have the initial training completed for anyone new who is hired after July 1, 2009. The initial training consists of at least 12 hours of federal law including the Truth-in-Lending Act, RESPA, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 4 hours of Virginia law, including the Virginia Mortgage Lender and Broker Act and 2 hours of mortgage fraud prevention, including the penalties for participating in mortgage fraud. Marketing and sales training courses don’t count.

Additionally, there is continuing education required for these employees on an annual basis after the initial training and consists of at least 4 hours of federal law, 2 hours of Virginia law, and 1 hours of mortgage fraud prevention. All employers must keep documentation showing which employees had initial and then continuing education, which courses they took (you must provide descriptions of each course), how many hours each course was, who the provider was, and when each course was completed.

You should have received a copy of this new law if you are currently licensed in Virginia. If you are like many of my clients, when you receive notice of a new law, you quickly skim the notice and decide you can’t figure out what it says. And then you wonder what you need to do next. You should have retained a lawyer to explain the new laws to you if you cannot understand what the Bureau of Financial Institutions has sent to you. Your inability to understand the new laws, rules, or regulations will not serve to protect you if you violate them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Law in North Carolina

There is a new law set to go into effect on October 1, 2008. This new law affects all mortgage companies currently licensed in North Carolina as well as those companies thinking of getting licensed in that state.

The most cutting edge provision of the law is the ban on yield spread premiums on loans that are defined in North Carolina as “rate spread” loans. Basically, yield spread premiums on subprime loans are not permitted in North Carolina as a result of this new law. North Carolina is the first state to eliminate yield spread premiums on any type of loans.

In addition, the new law provides that all branch offices must be located in commercial office space. Home offices are now prohibited. I am aware that many loan officers operate out of their own houses, and no one even thinks of this arrangement as a branch office. But in North Carolina, this pattern on cutting down on office space will not be allowed. And remember that North Carolina is a brick-and-mortar state so that if you are an out-of-state mortgage company thinking of getting licensed in North Carolina, your in-state office cannot be a home office.

If you are a loan officer who is now employed by a North Carolina licensee, you are classified as an employee and must receive a W-2 at the end of each year, showing your wages. There are no loan officer independent contractors in North Carolina.

If you want to apply for a license as a loan officer, you must now take 24 hours of approved pre-licensing education and pass an exam. When you have passed the exam, and are submitting your application, your background check must show a FICO score of at least 600. Moreover, your credit report cannot show any outstanding tax liens or judgments in the past 7 years.

The new law also affects minimum net worth requirements. If you are a mortgage broker, you must maintain a minimum net worth of at least $25,000. Your statement of net worth does not need to be from an accountant but must be certified by an authorized officer or member of the company. Additionally, the mortgage broker must provide the Commissioner of Bank’s office with bank statements or other proof that they have liquid funds of at least $10,000. For mortgage bankers, the net worth requirement is a minimum of $100,000 and that amount must be proven by an audited financial statement. In addition, the mortgage banker must show evidence of a line of credit or other available funds of $1,000,000.

Other provisions of the new law:

1. Reporting about closed loans will now be on a quarterly basis.
2. Renewals will be done at the end of the year as all licenses expire on December
3. Requires licensing for servicers as of January 1, 2009, however, you do not need an additional license if you are a mortgage banker who will be servicing (you will need to provide notice to the Commissioner of Banks).

If you need further information about the new law, you should look at the Commissioner of Bank’s website at www.nccob.org, place your cursor on Mortgage and then on Legal Compliance References.