38 CFR § 36.4352 - Authority to close loans on the automatic basis.

§ 36.4352 Authority to close loans on the automatic basis.

(a) Supervised lender authority. Supervised lenders of the classes described in 38 U.S.C. 3702(d)(1) and (2) are authorized by statute to process VA guaranteed home loans on the automatic basis. This category of lenders includes any Federal land bank, national bank, State bank, private bank, building and loan association, insurance company, credit union or mortgage and loan company that is subject to examination and supervision by an agency of the United States or of any State or by any State.

(b) Non-supervised lender authority. Non-supervised lenders of the class described in 38 U.S.C. 3702(d)(3) must apply to the Secretary for authority to process loans on the automatic basis. Each of the minimum requirements listed below must be met by applicant lenders.

(1) Experience. The applicant lender must meet one of the following experience requirements:

(i) The applicant lender must have been actively engaged in originating VA loans for at least two years, have a VA Lender ID number and have originated and closed a minimum of ten VA loans within the past two years, excluding interest rate reduction refinance loans (IRRRLs), that have been properly documented and submitted in compliance with VA requirements and procedures; or

(ii) The applicant lender must have a VA ID number and, if active for less than two years, have originated and closed at least 25 VA loans, excluding IRRRLs, that have been properly documented and submitted in compliance with VA requirements and procedures; or

(iii) Each principal officer of the applicant lender, who is actively involved in managing origination functions, must have a minimum of two recent years' management experience in the origination of VA loans. This experience may be with the current or prior employer. For the purposes of this requirement, principal officer is defined as president or vice president; or

(iv) If the applicant lender has been operating as an agent for a non-supervised automatic lender (sponsoring lender), the firm must submit documentation confirming that it has a VA Lender ID number and has originated a minimum of ten VA loans, excluding IRRRLs, over the past two years. If active for less than two years, the agent must have originated at least 25 VA loans. The required documentation is a copy of the VA letter approving the applicant lender as an agent for the sponsoring lender; a copy of the corporate resolution, describing the functions the agent was to perform, submitted to VA by the sponsoring lender; and a letter from a senior officer of the sponsoring lender indicating the number of VA loans submitted by the agent each year and that the loans have been properly documented and submitted in compliance with VA requirements and procedures.

(2) Underwriter. A senior officer of the applicant lender must nominate a full-time qualified employee(s) to act in the applicant lender's behalf as underwriter(s) to personally review and make underwriting decisions on VA loans to be closed on the automatic basis.

(i) Nominees for underwriter must have a minimum of three years experience in processing, pre-underwriting or underwriting mortgage loans. At least one recent year of this experience must have included making underwriting decisions on VA loans. (Recent is defined as within the past three years.) A VA nomination and current resume, outlining the underwriter's specific experience with VA loans, must be submitted for each underwriter nominee.

(ii) Alternatively, if an underwriter does not have the experience outlined above, the underwriter must submit documentation verifying that he or she is a current Accredited Residential Underwriter (ARU) as designated by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

(iii) If an underwriter is not located in the lender's corporate office, then a senior officer must certify that the underwriter reports to and is supervised by an individual who is not a branch manager or other person with production responsibilities.

(iv) All VA-approved underwriters must attend a 1-day (eight-hour) training course on underwriter responsibilities, VA underwriting requirements, and VA administrative requirements, including the usage of VA forms, within 90 days of approval (if VA is unable to make such training available within 90 days, the underwriter must attend the first available training). Immediately upon approval of a VA underwriter, the office of jurisdiction will contact the underwriter to schedule this training at a VA regional office (VARO) of the underwriter's choice. This training is required for all newly approved VA underwriters, including those who qualified for approval based on an ARU designation, as well as VA-approved underwriters who have not underwritten VA-guaranteed loans in the past 24 months. Furthermore, and at the discretion of any VARO in whose jurisdiction the lender is originating VA loans, VA-approved underwriters who consistently approve loans that do not meet VA credit standards may be required to retake this training.

(3) Underwriter certification. The lender must certify that all underwriting decisions as to whether to accept or reject a VA loan will be made by a VA-approved underwriter. In addition each VA-approved underwriter will be required to certify on each VA loan that he or she approves that the loan has been personally reviewed and approved by the underwriter.

(4) Financial requirements. Each application must include the most recent annual financial statement audited and certified by a certified public accountant (CPA). If the date of the annual financial statement precedes that of the application by more than six months, the lender must also attach a copy of its latest internal financial statement. Lenders are required to meet either the working capital or the minimum net worth financial requirement as defined below.

(i) Working capital. A minimum of $50,000 in working capital must be demonstrated.

(A) Working capital is a measure of an applicant lender's liquidity, or the ability to pay its short-term debts. Working capital is defined as the excess of current assets over current liabilities. Current assets are defined as cash or other liquid assets convertible into cash within a 1-year period. Current liabilities are defined as debts that must be paid within the same 1-year time frame.

(B) The VA determination of whether a lender has the required minimum working capital is based on the balance sheet of the lender's annual audited financial statement. Therefore, either the balance sheet must be classified to distinguish between current and fixed assets and between current and long-term liabilities or the information must be provided in a footnote to the statement.

(ii) Net worth. Lenders must show evidence of a minimum of $ 250,000 in adjusted net worth. Net worth is a measure of an applicant lender's solvency, or its ability to exist in the long run, quantified by the payment of long-term debts. Net worth as defined by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) is total assets minus total liabilities. Adjusted net worth for VA purposes is the same as the adjusted net worth required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), net worth less certain unacceptable assets including:

(A) Any assets of the lender pledged to secure obligations of another person or entity.

(B) Any asset due from either officers or stockholders of the lender or related entities, in which the lender's officers or stockholders have a personal interest, unrelated to their position as an officer or stockholder.

(C) Any investment in related entities in which the lender's officers or stockholders have a personal interest unrelated to their position as an officer or stockholder.

(D) That portion of an investment in joint ventures, subsidiaries, affiliates and/or other related entities which is carried at a value greater than equity, as adjusted. “Equity as adjusted” means the book value of the related entity reduced by the amount of unacceptable assets carried by the related entity.

(E) All intangibles, such as goodwill, covenants not to compete, franchisee fees, organization costs, etc., except unamortized servicing costs carried at a value established by an arm's-length transaction and presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

(F) That portion of an asset not readily marketable and for which appraised values are very subjective, carried at a value in excess of a substantially discounted appraised value. Assets such as antiques, art work and gemstones are subject to this provision and should be carried at the lower of cost or market.

(G) Any asset that is principally used for the personal enjoyment of an officer or stockholder and not for normal business purposes. Adjusted net worth must be calculated by a CPA using an audited and certified balance sheet from the lender's latest financial statements. “Personal interest” as used in this section indicates a relationship between the lender and a person or entity in which that specified person (e.g., spouse, parent, grandparent, child, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or in-law) has a financial interest in or is employed in a management position by the lender.

(5) Lines of credit. The lender applicant must have one or more lines of credit aggregating at least $ 1 million. The identity of the source(s) of warehouse lines of credit must be submitted to VA and the applicant must agree that VA may contact the named source(s) for the purpose of verifying the information. A line of credit must be unrestricted, that is, funds are available upon demand to close loans and are not dependent on prior investor approval. A letter from the company(ies) verifying the unrestricted line(s) of credit must be submitted with the application for automatic authority.

(6) Permanent investors. If the lender customarily sells loans it originates, it must have a minimum of two permanent investors. The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the permanent investors must be submitted with the application.

(7) Liaison. The lender applicant must designate an employee and an alternate to be the primary liaison with VA. The liaison officers should be thoroughly familiar with the lender's entire operation and be able to respond to any query from VA concerning a particular VA loan or the firm's automatic authority.

(8) Other considerations. All applications will also be reviewed in light of the following considerations:

(i) There must be no factors that indicate that the firm would not exercise the care and diligence required of a lender originating and closing VA loans on the automatic basis; and

(ii) In the event the applicant lender, any member of the board of directors, or any principal officer has ever been debarred or suspended by any Federal agency or department, or any of its directors or officers has been a director or officer of any other lender or corporation that was so debarred or suspended, or if the lender applicant ever had a servicing contract with an investor terminated for cause, a statement of the facts must be submitted with the application for automatic authority.

(9) Quality control system. In order to be approved as a non-supervised lender for automatic-processing authority, the lender must implement a written quality control system which ensures compliance with VA requirements. The lender must agree to furnish findings under its systems to VA on demand. The elements of the quality control system must include the following:

(i) Underwriting policies. Each office of the lender shall maintain copies of VA credit standards and all available VA underwriting guidelines.

(ii) Corrective measures. The system should ensure that effective corrective measures are taken promptly when deficiencies in loan originations are identified by either the lender or VA. Any cases involving major discrepancies which are discovered under the system must be reported to VA.

(iii) System integrity. The quality control system should be independent of the mortgage loan production function.

(iv) Scope. The review of underwriting decisions and certifications must include compliance with VA underwriting requirements, sufficiency of documentation and soundness of underwriting judgments.

(v) Appraisal quality. For lenders approved for the Lender Appraisal Processing Program (LAPP), the quality control system must specifically contain provisions concerning the adequacy and quality of real property appraisals. While the lender's quality control personnel need not be appraisers, they should have basic familiarity with appraisal theory and techniques so that they can select appropriate cases for review if discretionary sampling is used, and prescribe appropriate corrective action(s) in the appraisal review process when discrepancies or problems are identified. Copies of the lender's quality control plan or self-policing system evidencing appraisal related matters must be provided to the VA office of jurisdiction.

(10) Courtesy closing. The lender applicant must certify to VA that it will not close loans on an automatic basis as a courtesy or accommodation for other mortgage lenders, whether or not such lenders are themselves approved to close on an automatic basis without the express approval of VA. However, a lender with automatic authority may close loans for which information and supporting credit data have been developed on its behalf by a duly authorized agent.

(11) Probation. Lenders meeting these requirements will be approved to close VA loans on an automatic basis for a 1-year period. At the end of this period, the lender's quality of underwriting, the completeness of loan submissions, compliance with VA requirements and procedures, and the delinquency and foreclosure rates will be reviewed.

(12) Extensions of automatic authority. When a lender wants its automatic authority extended to another State, the request must be submitted, with the fee designated in paragraph (e)(5) of this section, to the VA regional office having jurisdiction in the State where the lender's corporate office is located.

(i) When a lender wants its automatic authority to include loans involving a real estate brokerage and/or a residential builder or developer in which it has a financial interest, owns, is owned by, or with which it is affiliated, the following documentation must be submitted:

(A) A corporate resolution from the lender and each affiliate indicating that they are separate entities operating independently of each other. The lender's corporate resolution must indicate that it will not give more favorable underwriting consideration to its affiliate's loans, and the affiliate's corporate resolution must indicate that it will not seek to influence the lender to give their loans more favorable underwriting consideration.

(B) Letters from permanent investors indicating the percentage of all VA loans based on the affiliate's production originated by the lender over a 1-year period that are past due 90 days or more. This delinquency ratio must be no higher than the national average for the same period for all mortgage loans.

(ii) When a lender wants its automatic authority extended to additional States, the lender must indicate how it plans to originate VA loans in those States. Unless a lender proposes a telemarketing plan, VA requires that a lender have a presence in the State, that is, a branch office, an agent relationship, or that it is a reasonable distance from one of its offices in an adjacent State, i.e., 50 miles. If the request is based on an agency relationship, the documentation outlined in paragraph (b)(13) must be submitted with the request for extension.

(13) Use of agents. A lender using an agent to perform a portion of the work involved in originating and closing a VA-guaranteed loan on an automatic basis must take full responsibility by certification for all acts, errors and omissions of the agent or other entity and its employees for the work performed. Any such acts, errors or omissions will be treated as those of the lender and appropriate sanctions may be imposed against the lender and its agent. Lenders requesting an agent must submit the following documentation to the VA regional office having jurisdiction for the lender's corporate office:

(i) A corporate resolution certifying that the lender takes full responsibility for all acts, errors and omissions of the agent that it is requesting. The corporate resolution must also identify the agent's name and address, and the geographic area in which the agent will be originating and/or closing VA loans; whether the agent is authorized to issue interest rate lock-in agreements on behalf of the lender; and outline the functions the agent is to perform. Alternatively, the lender may submit a blanket corporate resolution which sets forth the functions of any and all agents and identifies individual agents by name, address, and geographic area in separate letters which refer to the blanket resolution.

(ii) When the VA regional office having jurisdiction for the lender's corporate office acknowledges receipt of the lender's request in writing, the agent is thereby authorized to originate VA loans on the lender's behalf.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a), 3702(d))

(c) Reporting responsibility. A lender approved to close loans on the automatic basis who subsequently fails to meet the requirements of this section must report to VA the circumstances surrounding the deficiency and the remedial action to be taken to cure it. Failure to advise VA in a timely manner could result in a lender's loss of its approval to close VA loans on the automatic basis.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a), 3702(d))

(d) Annual recertification. Non-supervised lenders of the class described in 38 U.S.C. 3702(d)(3) must be recertified annually for authority to process loans on the automatic basis. The following minimum annual recertification requirements must be met by each lender approved for automatic authority:

(1) Financial requirements. A lender must submit, within 120 days following the end of its fiscal year, an audited and certified financial statement with a classified balance sheet or a separate footnote for adjusted net worth to VA Central Office (264) for review. The same minimum financial requirements described in § 36.4352(b)(5) must be maintained and verified annually in order to be recertified for automatic authority.

(2) Processing annual lender data. The VA regional office having jurisdiction for the lender's corporate office will mail an annual notice to the lender requesting current information on the lender's personnel and operation. The lender is required to complete the form and return it with the appropriate annual renewal fees to the VA regional office.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a), 3702(d))

(e) Lender fees. To participate as a VA automatic lender, non-supervised lenders of the class described in 38 U.S.C. 3702(d)(3) shall pay fees as follows:

(1) $500 for new applications;

(2) $200 for reinstatement of lapsed or terminated automatic authority;

(3) $100 for each underwriter approval;

(4) $100 for each agent approval;

(5) A minimum fee of $100 for any other VA administrative action pertaining to a lender's status as an automatic lender;

(6) $200 annually for certification of home offices; and

(7) $100 annually for each agent renewal.

(f) Supervised lender fees. Supervised lenders of the classes described in paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2) of 38 U.S. Code 3702 participating in VA's Loan Guaranty Program shall pay fees as follows:

(1) $100 fee for each agent approval; and

(2) $100 annually for each agent renewal.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a) and 3703(c)(1))

(g) LAPP fees. Lenders participating in VA's Lender Appraisal Processing Program shall pay a fee of $100 for approval of each staff appraisal reviewer.

[73 FR 6310, Feb. 1, 2008. Redesignated at 75 FR 33705, June 15, 2010, as amended at 80 FR 34319, June 16, 2015]