15 U.S. Code § 1639c - Minimum standards for residential mortgage loans

(a) Ability to repay
(1) In general
In accordance with regulations prescribed by the Bureau, no creditor may make a residential mortgage loan unless the creditor makes a reasonable and good faith determination based on verified and documented information that, at the time the loan is consummated, the consumer has a reasonable ability to repay the loan, according to its terms, and all applicable taxes, insurance (including mortgage guarantee insurance), and assessments.
(2) Multiple loans
If the creditor knows, or has reason to know, that 1 or more residential mortgage loans secured by the same dwelling will be made to the same consumer, the creditor shall make a reasonable and good faith determination, based on verified and documented information, that the consumer has a reasonable ability to repay the combined payments of all loans on the same dwelling according to the terms of those loans and all applicable taxes, insurance (including mortgage guarantee insurance), and assessments.
(3) Basis for determination
A determination under this subsection of a consumer’s ability to repay a residential mortgage loan shall include consideration of the consumer’s credit history, current income, expected income the consumer is reasonably assured of receiving, current obligations, debt-to-income ratio or the residual income the consumer will have after paying non-mortgage debt and mortgage-related obligations, employment status, and other financial resources other than the consumer’s equity in the dwelling or real property that secures repayment of the loan. A creditor shall determine the ability of the consumer to repay using a payment schedule that fully amortizes the loan over the term of the loan.
(4) Income verification
A creditor making a residential mortgage loan shall verify amounts of income or assets that such creditor relies on to determine repayment ability, including expected income or assets, by reviewing the consumer’s Internal Revenue Service Form W–2, tax returns, payroll receipts, financial institution records, or other third-party documents that provide reasonably reliable evidence of the consumer’s income or assets. In order to safeguard against fraudulent reporting, any consideration of a consumer’s income history in making a determination under this subsection shall include the verification of such income by the use of—
(A) Internal Revenue Service transcripts of tax returns; or
(B) a method that quickly and effectively verifies income documentation by a third party subject to rules prescribed by the Bureau.
(5) Exemption
With respect to loans made, guaranteed, or insured by Federal departments or agencies identified in subsection (b)(3)(B)(ii), such departments or agencies may exempt refinancings under a streamlined refinancing from this income verification requirement as long as the following conditions are met:
(A) The consumer is not 30 days or more past due on the prior existing residential mortgage loan.
(B) The refinancing does not increase the principal balance outstanding on the prior existing residential mortgage loan, except to the extent of fees and charges allowed by the department or agency making, guaranteeing, or insuring the refinancing.
(C) Total points and fees (as defined in section 1602 (aa)(4)  [1] of this title, other than bona fide third party charges not retained by the mortgage originator, creditor, or an affiliate of the creditor or mortgage originator) payable in connection with the refinancing do not exceed 3 percent of the total new loan amount.
(D) The interest rate on the refinanced loan is lower than the interest rate of the original loan, unless the borrower is refinancing from an adjustable rate to a fixed-rate loan, under guidelines that the department or agency shall establish for loans they make, guarantee, or issue.
(E) The refinancing is subject to a payment schedule that will fully amortize the refinancing in accordance with the regulations prescribed by the department or agency making, guaranteeing, or insuring the refinancing.
(F) The terms of the refinancing do not result in a balloon payment, as defined in subsection (b)(2)(A)(ii).
(G) Both the residential mortgage loan being refinanced and the refinancing satisfy all requirements of the department or agency making, guaranteeing, or insuring the refinancing.
(6) Nonstandard loans
(A) Variable rate loans that defer repayment of any principal or interest
For purposes of determining, under this subsection, a consumer’s ability to repay a variable rate residential mortgage loan that allows or requires the consumer to defer the repayment of any principal or interest, the creditor shall use a fully amortizing repayment schedule.
(B) Interest-only loans
For purposes of determining, under this subsection, a consumer’s ability to repay a residential mortgage loan that permits or requires the payment of interest only, the creditor shall use the payment amount required to amortize the loan by its final maturity.
(C) Calculation for negative amortization
In making any determination under this subsection, a creditor shall also take into consideration any balance increase that may accrue from any negative amortization provision.
(D) Calculation process
For purposes of making any determination under this subsection, a creditor shall calculate the monthly payment amount for principal and interest on any residential mortgage loan by assuming—
(i) the loan proceeds are fully disbursed on the date of the consummation of the loan;
(ii) the loan is to be repaid in substantially equal monthly amortizing payments for principal and interest over the entire term of the loan with no balloon payment, unless the loan contract requires more rapid repayment (including balloon payment), in which case the calculation shall be made
(I) in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Bureau, with respect to any loan which has an annual percentage rate that does not exceed the average prime offer rate for a comparable transaction, as of the date the interest rate is set, by 1.5 or more percentage points for a first lien residential mortgage loan; and by 3.5 or more percentage points for a subordinate lien residential mortgage loan; or
(II) using the contract’s repayment schedule, with respect to a loan which has an annual percentage rate, as of the date the interest rate is set, that is at least 1.5 percentage points above the average prime offer rate for a first lien residential mortgage loan; and 3.5 percentage points above the average prime offer rate for a subordinate lien residential mortgage loan; and
(iii) the interest rate over the entire term of the loan is a fixed rate equal to the fully indexed rate at the time of the loan closing, without considering the introductory rate.
(E) Refinance of hybrid loans with current lender
In considering any application for refinancing an existing hybrid loan by the creditor into a standard loan to be made by the same creditor in any case in which there would be a reduction in monthly payment and the mortgagor has not been delinquent on any payment on the existing hybrid loan, the creditor may—
(i) consider the mortgagor’s good standing on the existing mortgage;
(ii) consider if the extension of new credit would prevent a likely default should the original mortgage reset and give such concerns a higher priority as an acceptable underwriting practice; and
(iii) offer rate discounts and other favorable terms to such mortgagor that would be available to new customers with high credit ratings based on such underwriting practice.
(7) Fully-indexed rate defined
For purposes of this subsection, the term “fully indexed rate” means the index rate prevailing on a residential mortgage loan at the time the loan is made plus the margin that will apply after the expiration of any introductory interest rates.
(8) Reverse mortgages and bridge loans
This subsection shall not apply with respect to any reverse mortgage or temporary or bridge loan with a term of 12 months or less, including to any loan to purchase a new dwelling where the consumer plans to sell a different dwelling within 12 months.
(9) Seasonal income
If documented income, including income from a small business, is a repayment source for a residential mortgage loan, a creditor may consider the seasonality and irregularity of such income in the underwriting of and scheduling of payments for such credit.
(b) Presumption of ability to repay
(1) In general
Any creditor with respect to any residential mortgage loan, and any assignee of such loan subject to liability under this subchapter, may presume that the loan has met the requirements of subsection (a), if the loan is a qualified mortgage.
(2) Definitions
For purposes of this subsection, the following definitions shall apply:
(A) Qualified mortgage
The term “qualified mortgage” means any residential mortgage loan—
(i) for which the regular periodic payments for the loan may not—
(I) result in an increase of the principal balance; or
(II) except as provided in subparagraph (E), allow the consumer to defer repayment of principal;
(ii) except as provided in subparagraph (E), the terms of which do not result in a balloon payment, where a “balloon payment” is a scheduled payment that is more than twice as large as the average of earlier scheduled payments;
(iii) for which the income and financial resources relied upon to qualify the obligors on the loan are verified and documented;
(iv) in the case of a fixed rate loan, for which the underwriting process is based on a payment schedule that fully amortizes the loan over the loan term and takes into account all applicable taxes, insurance, and assessments;
(v) in the case of an adjustable rate loan, for which the underwriting is based on the maximum rate permitted under the loan during the first 5 years, and a payment schedule that fully amortizes the loan over the loan term and takes into account all applicable taxes, insurance, and assessments;
(vi) that complies with any guidelines or regulations established by the Bureau relating to ratios of total monthly debt to monthly income or alternative measures of ability to pay regular expenses after payment of total monthly debt, taking into account the income levels of the borrower and such other factors as the Bureau may determine relevant and consistent with the purposes described in paragraph (3)(B)(i);
(vii) for which the total points and fees (as defined in subparagraph (C)) payable in connection with the loan do not exceed 3 percent of the total loan amount;
(viii) for which the term of the loan does not exceed 30 years, except as such term may be extended under paragraph (3), such as in high-cost areas; and
(ix) in the case of a reverse mortgage (except for the purposes of subsection (a) of this section, to the extent that such mortgages are exempt altogether from those requirements), a reverse mortgage which meets the standards for a qualified mortgage, as set by the Bureau in rules that are consistent with the purposes of this subsection.
(B) Average prime offer rate
The term “average prime offer rate” means the average prime offer rate for a comparable transaction as of the date on which the interest rate for the transaction is set, as published by the Bureau.. [2]
(C) Points and fees
(i) In general For purposes of subparagraph (A), the term “points and fees” means points and fees as defined by section 1602 (aa)(4)  [1] of this title (other than bona fide third party charges not retained by the mortgage originator, creditor, or an affiliate of the creditor or mortgage originator).
(ii) Computation For purposes of computing the total points and fees under this subparagraph, the total points and fees shall exclude either of the amounts described in the following subclauses, but not both:
(I) Up to and including 2 bona fide discount points payable by the consumer in connection with the mortgage, but only if the interest rate from which the mortgage’s interest rate will be discounted does not exceed by more than 1 percentage point the average prime offer rate.
(II) Unless 2 bona fide discount points have been excluded under subclause (I), up to and including 1 bona fide discount point payable by the consumer in connection with the mortgage, but only if the interest rate from which the mortgage’s interest rate will be discounted does not exceed by more than 2 percentage points the average prime offer rate.
(iii) Bona fide discount points defined For purposes of clause (ii), the term “bona fide discount points” means loan discount points which are knowingly paid by the consumer for the purpose of reducing, and which in fact result in a bona fide reduction of, the interest rate or time-price differential applicable to the mortgage.
(iv) Interest rate reduction Subclauses (I) and (II) of clause (ii) shall not apply to discount points used to purchase an interest rate reduction unless the amount of the interest rate reduction purchased is reasonably consistent with established industry norms and practices for secondary mortgage market transactions.
(D) Smaller loans
The Bureau shall prescribe rules adjusting the criteria under subparagraph (A)(vii) in order to permit lenders that extend smaller loans to meet the requirements of the presumption of compliance under paragraph (1). In prescribing such rules, the Bureau shall consider the potential impact of such rules on rural areas and other areas where home values are lower.
(E) Balloon loans
The Bureau may, by regulation, provide that the term “qualified mortgage” includes a balloon loan—
(i) that meets all of the criteria for a qualified mortgage under subparagraph (A) (except clauses (i)(II), (ii), (iv), and (v) of such subparagraph);
(ii) for which the creditor makes a determination that the consumer is able to make all scheduled payments, except the balloon payment, out of income or assets other than the collateral;
(iii) for which the underwriting is based on a payment schedule that fully amortizes the loan over a period of not more than 30 years and takes into account all applicable taxes, insurance, and assessments; and
(iv) that is extended by a creditor that—
(I) operates predominantly in rural or underserved areas;
(II) together with all affiliates, has total annual residential mortgage loan originations that do not exceed a limit set by the Bureau;
(III) retains the balloon loans in portfolio; and
(IV) meets any asset size threshold and any other criteria as the Bureau may establish, consistent with the purposes of this part.
(3) Regulations
(A) In general
The Bureau shall prescribe regulations to carry out the purposes of this subsection.
(B) Revision of safe harbor criteria
(i) In general The Bureau may prescribe regulations that revise, add to, or subtract from the criteria that define a qualified mortgage upon a finding that such regulations are necessary or proper to ensure that responsible, affordable mortgage credit remains available to consumers in a manner consistent with the purposes of this section, necessary and appropriate to effectuate the purposes of this section and section 1639b of this title, to prevent circumvention or evasion thereof, or to facilitate compliance with such sections.
(ii) Loan definition The following agencies shall, in consultation with the Bureau, prescribe rules defining the types of loans they insure, guarantee, or administer, as the case may be, that are qualified mortgages for purposes of paragraph (2)(A), and such rules may revise, add to, or subtract from the criteria used to define a qualified mortgage under paragraph (2)(A), upon a finding that such rules are consistent with the purposes of this section and section 1639b of this title, to prevent circumvention or evasion thereof, or to facilitate compliance with such sections:
(I) The Department of Housing and Urban Development, with regard to mortgages insured under the National Housing Act [12 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.].
(II) The Department of Veterans Affairs, with regard to a loan made or guaranteed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
(III) The Department of Agriculture, with regard  [3] loans guaranteed by the Secretary of Agriculture pursuant to section 1472 (h) of title 42.
(IV) The Rural Housing Service, with regard to loans insured by the Rural Housing Service.
(c) Prohibition on certain prepayment penalties
(1) Prohibited on certain loans
(A) In general
A residential mortgage loan that is not a “qualified mortgage”, as defined under subsection (b)(2), may not contain terms under which a consumer must pay a prepayment penalty for paying all or part of the principal after the loan is consummated.
(B) Exclusions
For purposes of this subsection, a “qualified mortgage” may not include a residential mortgage loan that—
(i) has an adjustable rate; or
(ii) has an annual percentage rate that exceeds the average prime offer rate for a comparable transaction, as of the date the interest rate is set—
(I) by 1.5 or more percentage points, in the case of a first lien residential mortgage loan having a original principal obligation amount that is equal to or less than the amount of the maximum limitation on the original principal obligation of mortgage in effect for a residence of the applicable size, as of the date of such interest rate set, pursuant to the 6th sentence of section 1454 (a)(2) of title 12;
(II) by 2.5 or more percentage points, in the case of a first lien residential mortgage loan having a original principal obligation amount that is more than the amount of the maximum limitation on the original principal obligation of mortgage in effect for a residence of the applicable size, as of the date of such interest rate set, pursuant to the 6th sentence of section 1454 (a)(2) of title 12; and
(III) by 3.5 or more percentage points, in the case of a subordinate lien residential mortgage loan.
(2) Publication of average prime offer rate and APR thresholds
The Bureau—
(A) shall publish, and update at least weekly, average prime offer rates;
(B) may publish multiple rates based on varying types of mortgage transactions; and
(C) shall adjust the thresholds established under subclause (I), (II), and (III) of paragraph (1)(B)(ii) as necessary to reflect significant changes in market conditions and to effectuate the purposes of the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act.
(3) Phased-out penalties on qualified mortgages
A qualified mortgage (as defined in subsection (b)(2)) may not contain terms under which a consumer must pay a prepayment penalty for paying all or part of the principal after the loan is consummated in excess of the following limitations:
(A) During the 1-year period beginning on the date the loan is consummated, the prepayment penalty shall not exceed an amount equal to 3 percent of the outstanding balance on the loan.
(B) During the 1-year period beginning after the period described in subparagraph (A), the prepayment penalty shall not exceed an amount equal to 2 percent of the outstanding balance on the loan.
(C) During the 1-year period beginning after the 1-year period described in subparagraph (B), the prepayment penalty shall not exceed an amount equal to 1 percent of the outstanding balance on the loan.
(D) After the end of the 3-year period beginning on the date the loan is consummated, no prepayment penalty may be imposed on a qualified mortgage.
(4) Option for no prepayment penalty required
A creditor may not offer a consumer a residential mortgage loan product that has a prepayment penalty for paying all or part of the principal after the loan is consummated as a term of the loan without offering the consumer a residential mortgage loan product that does not have a prepayment penalty as a term of the loan.
(d) Single premium credit insurance prohibited
No creditor may finance, directly or indirectly, in connection with any residential mortgage loan or with any extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan secured by the principal dwelling of the consumer, any credit life, credit disability, credit unemployment, or credit property insurance, or any other accident, loss-of-income, life, or health insurance, or any payments directly or indirectly for any debt cancellation or suspension agreement or contract, except that—
(1) insurance premiums or debt cancellation or suspension fees calculated and paid in full on a monthly basis shall not be considered financed by the creditor; and
(2) this subsection shall not apply to credit unemployment insurance for which the unemployment insurance premiums are reasonable, the creditor receives no direct or indirect compensation in connection with the unemployment insurance premiums, and the unemployment insurance premiums are paid pursuant to another insurance contract and not paid to an affiliate of the creditor.
(e) Arbitration
(1) In general
No residential mortgage loan and no extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan secured by the principal dwelling of the consumer may include terms which require arbitration or any other nonjudicial procedure as the method for resolving any controversy or settling any claims arising out of the transaction.
(2) Post-controversy agreements
Subject to paragraph (3), paragraph (1) shall not be construed as limiting the right of the consumer and the creditor or any assignee to agree to arbitration or any other nonjudicial procedure as the method for resolving any controversy at any time after a dispute or claim under the transaction arises.
(3) No waiver of statutory cause of action
No provision of any residential mortgage loan or of any extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan secured by the principal dwelling of the consumer, and no other agreement between the consumer and the creditor relating to the residential mortgage loan or extension of credit referred to in paragraph (1), shall be applied or interpreted so as to bar a consumer from bringing an action in an appropriate district court of the United States, or any other court of competent jurisdiction, pursuant to section 1640 of this title or any other provision of law, for damages or other relief in connection with any alleged violation of this section, any other provision of this subchapter, or any other Federal law.
(f) Mortgages with negative amortization
No creditor may extend credit to a borrower in connection with a consumer credit transaction under an open or closed end consumer credit plan secured by a dwelling or residential real property that includes a dwelling, other than a reverse mortgage, that provides or permits a payment plan that may, at any time over the term of the extension of credit, result in negative amortization unless, before such transaction is consummated—
(1) the creditor provides the consumer with a statement that—
(A) the pending transaction will or may, as the case may be, result in negative amortization;
(B) describes negative amortization in such manner as the Bureau shall prescribe;
(C) negative amortization increases the outstanding principal balance of the account; and
(D) negative amortization reduces the consumer’s equity in the dwelling or real property; and
(2) in the case of a first-time borrower with respect to a residential mortgage loan that is not a qualified mortgage, the first-time borrower provides the creditor with sufficient documentation to demonstrate that the consumer received homeownership counseling from organizations or counselors certified by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development as competent to provide such counseling.
(g) Protection against loss of anti-deficiency protection
(1) Definition
For purposes of this subsection, the term “anti-deficiency law” means the law of any State which provides that, in the event of foreclosure on the residential property of a consumer securing a mortgage, the consumer is not liable, in accordance with the terms and limitations of such State law, for any deficiency between the sale price obtained on such property through foreclosure and the outstanding balance of the mortgage.
(2) Notice at time of consummation
In the case of any residential mortgage loan that is, or upon consummation will be, subject to protection under an anti-deficiency law, the creditor or mortgage originator shall provide a written notice to the consumer describing the protection provided by the anti-deficiency law and the significance for the consumer of the loss of such protection before such loan is consummated.
(3) Notice before refinancing that would cause loss of protection
In the case of any residential mortgage loan that is subject to protection under an anti-deficiency law, if a creditor or mortgage originator provides an application to a consumer, or receives an application from a consumer, for any type of refinancing for such loan that would cause the loan to lose the protection of such anti-deficiency law, the creditor or mortgage originator shall provide a written notice to the consumer describing the protection provided by the anti-deficiency law and the significance for the consumer of the loss of such protection before any agreement for any such refinancing is consummated.
(h) Policy regarding acceptance of partial payment
In the case of any residential mortgage loan, a creditor shall disclose prior to settlement or, in the case of a person becoming a creditor with respect to an existing residential mortgage loan, at the time such person becomes a creditor—
(1) the creditor’s policy regarding the acceptance of partial payments; and
(2) if partial payments are accepted, how such payments will be applied to such mortgage and if such payments will be placed in escrow.
(i) Timeshare plans
This section and any regulations promulgated under this section do not apply to an extension of credit relating to a plan described in section 101(53D) of title 11.


[1]  See References in Text note below.

[2]  So in original.

[3]  So in original. Probably should be followed by “to”.

Source

(Pub. L. 90–321, title I, § 129C, as added and amended Pub. L. 111–203, title X, § 1100A(2), title XIV, §§ 1411(a)(2), 1412, 1414 (a), (c), (d),July 21, 2010, 124 Stat. 2107, 2142, 2145, 2149, 2152.)
References in Text

Section 1602 (aa)(4) of this title, referred to in subsecs. (a)(5)(C) and (b)(2)(C)(i), was redesignated section 1602 (bb)(4) of this title by Pub. L. 111–203, title X, § 1100A(1)(A),July 21, 2010, 124 Stat. 2107.
This part, referred to in subsec. (b)(2)(E)(iv)(IV), was in the original “this subtitle”, and was translated as reading “this chapter”, meaning chapter 2 of title I of Pub. L. 90–321, to reflect the probable intent of Congress. Title I of Pub. L. 90–321does not contain subtitles.
The National Housing Act, referred to in subsec. (b)(3)(B)(ii)(I), is act June 27, 1934, ch. 847, 48 Stat. 1246, which is classified principally to chapter 13 (§ 1701 et seq.) of Title 12, Banks and Banking. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 1701 of Title 12 and Tables.
The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, referred to in subsec. (c)(2)(C), is title XIV of Pub. L. 111–203, July 21, 2010, 124 Stat. 2136. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title of 2010 Amendment note set out under section 1601 of this title and Tables.
Amendments

2010—Pub. L. 111–203, § 1100A(2), substituted “Bureau” for “Board” wherever appearing.
Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 111–203, § 1412, added subsec. (b).
Subsecs. (c) to (f). Pub. L. 111–203, § 1414(a), added subsecs. (c) to (f).
Subsec. (g). Pub. L. 111–203, § 1414(c), added subsec. (g).
Subsecs. (h), (i). Pub. L. 111–203, § 1414(d), added subsecs. (h) and (i).
Effective Date of 2010 Amendment

Amendment by section 1100A(2) ofPub. L. 111–203effective on the designated transfer date, see section 1100H ofPub. L. 111–203, set out as a note under section 552a of Title 5, Government Organization and Employees.
Amendment by sections 1412 and 1414(a), (c), (d) ofPub. L. 111–203effective on the date on which final regulations implementing that amendment take effect, or on the date that is 18 months after the designated transfer date, if such regulations have not been issued by that date, see section 1400(c) ofPub. L. 111–203, set out as a note under section 1601 of this title.
Effective Date

Section effective on the date on which final regulations implementing such section take effect, or on the date that is 18 months after the designated transfer date if such regulations have not been issued by that date, see section 1400(c) ofPub. L. 111–203, set out as an Effective Date of 2010 Amendment note under section 1601 of this title.
Rule of Construction

Pub. L. 111–203, title XIV, § 1411(a)(1),July 21, 2010, 124 Stat. 2142, provided that: “No regulation, order, or guidance issued by the Bureau under this title [see Tables for classification] shall be construed as requiring a depository institution to apply mortgage underwriting standards that do not meet the minimum underwriting standards required by the appropriate prudential regulator of the depository institution.”
[For definitions of “Bureau” and “depository institution” as used in section 1411(a)(1) ofPub. L. 111–203, set out above, see section 5301 of Title 12, Banks and Banking.]

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