WASHINGTON The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized clarifications to its ability-to-repay and mortgage servicing rules Wednesday that include what lenders can use to calculate a borrower's debt-to-income ratio.
The clarifications, first proposed in April, are meant to help bankers in determining what loans are considered a qualified mortgage. The rules go into effect January 2014.
"We know that effective implementation helps our rules deliver their intended value to consumers," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a press release. "We are listening closely to feedback on our rules, and today's clarifications show our willingness to make appropriate adjustments to achieve that goal."
Under the finalized ability-to-repay rule, a borrower must have a debt-to-income ratio of less than 43% for the loan to be considered a "qualified mortgage," in addition to other factors. Under the changes finalized Wednesday, the CFPB clarified that the DTI ratio can include other incomes from the borrower, including a business credit report if self-employed and non-employment-related income such as a trust or rental property.
The CFPB also initially created a temporary outlet for loans to be a qualified mortgage so long as it was eligible for purchase, guarantee or insurance by the government-sponsored enterprises and met other requirements. In the finalized clarification, the CFPB said a creditor with GSE-approved loan does not need to meet the other procedural and technical requirements if they are completely unrelated to the consumer's ability to repay.
The agency also finalized changes to the servicing rule, including outlining which mortgage loans would be considered in its exemption for small servicers. Policymakers and industry advocates were concerned that some small servicers who focus on charitable-based loans would not receive the exemption or would halt such specialized programs in order to receive the exemption. But the agency said in its final clarification that it would not consider loans serviced on a charitable basis, among other specialized loans, as part of the determination. The CFPB also clarified in its mortgage servicing rule that the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act rule does not preempt state regulation on mortgage servicing.
Since the rules were first issued in January, the agency has aggressively released numerous clarifications and amendments for how lenders must comply with the rules by next year. It recently launched a regulatory implementation page and most recently said it plans to publish the first round of examination procedures for the ability-to-repay and mortgage servicing rules soon.