CFPB gives small banks, CUs a break on HMDA reporting

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WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has decided to give small financial institutions a tiny bit of regulatory relief, by temporarily easing their reporting requirements under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.

Lenders will not have to report data on open-ended home equity lines of credit in 2018 or 2019 if they originated fewer than 500 HELOCs in the preceding year, the bureau said Thursday. Originally the threshold was to be 100 loans per year, which would have ensnared many more small banks and credit unions. Institutions will still have to report closed-end home equity loans if they write 25 or more a year.

"Today's amendments show that the Consumer Bureau is committed to ensuring that financial institutions are able to comply," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a press release.

The change will buy time to resolve a simmering controversy. Credit unions, which are heavy originators of HELOCs, and community banks have criticized as excessively burdensome the 2015 rule that called for them to report these loans under HMDA.

"This temporary increase in the threshold will provide time for the bureau to consider whether to initiate another rulemaking to address the appropriate level for the threshold for data collected beginning Jan. 1, 2020," the agency said.

The Independent Community Bankers of America is calling for higher reporting thresholds. The banking group wants the CFPB to set permanent thresholds for community banks at 1,000 for first lien, closed-end loans and 2,000 for HELOCs.

"This will help provide a consistent and stable regulatory environment that encourages community banks to invest in the future of their local economies without significantly impacting the mortgage data available to the bureau, or impeding mortgage credit access for Main Street," the ICBA said Thursday.

Credit unions welcomed the CFPB's concession. "I commend the CFPB for recognizing the burden the low 100 HELOC threshold would have on smaller institutions. The new threshold of 500 is a step in the right direction for reasonable regulatory relief," said Cooperative Credit Union Association President and CEO Paul Gentile.

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