DS News

DS News Jan 2023

DSNews delivers stories, ideas, links, companies, people, events, and videos impacting the mortgage default servicing industry.

Issue link: http://digital.dsnews.com/i/1490081

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Page 49 of 83

48 DON'T WAIT FOR REGULATIONS Mortgage servicers need to embrace non-English-language support now. Quick Take By: Matthew Perez e United States is becoming increasingly multilingual. e U.S. Census Bureau estimates that in 2019, more than 67 million people spoke a language other than English at home, a 52% increase from 2000. Non-native speakers are also making up an increasingly signifi- cant proportion of homebuyers. According to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), in 2021 the His- panic homeownership rate increased (for the seventh consecutive year) to 48.4%. NAHREP expects 70% of new homes sold between 2020- 2040 to be purchased by Latino families. To accommodate borrowers with Limited En- glish Proficiency (LEP), mortgage servicers must build in processes to ensure fair and equal customer service throughout the life of the loan. Addition- ally, regulatory and legal pressure is building to ensure that LEP borrowers have equal access to customer support and default servicing options. Servicers should be familiar with the state laws, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) guidelines, and any new federal legislation related to language access for LEP borrowers. As mortgage servicers prepare for 2023, they must evaluate and improve their resources to better assist LEP borrowers. THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR LEP SERVICING Federal lawmakers have not passed any laws that specifically mandate the provision of non-English-language services to LEP borrowers during the mortgage servicing process. However, Congress has begun working on a bill that would establish language translation requirements for mortgage applications and servicing. While no action had been taken on the bill as of December 2022, the CFPB encourages servicers to provide greater language access for LEP borrowers. e Bureau made its position clear with its "Statement Regarding the Provision of Financial Products and Services to Consumers with Limited English Proficiency." In its statement, the CFPB said, "e Bureau encourages financial institutions to better serve LEP consumers while ensuring compliance with relevant Federal, State, and other legal require- ments," including fair lending laws. e CFPB and courts have been more active in enforcing fairness and equality for LEP consumers. e State Mortgage Regulators of 48 states entered into a settlement with PHH Mortgage Corporation regarding allegations of deficiencies in servicing, foreclosure, loan modification, and other loss mitigation processes. Under the settle- ment, PHH was required to develop/implement policies and procedures related to borrowers with LEP, to provide translation services, and, when evaluating borrowers for loss mitigation options, to accept hardship letters and state and federal government forms in non-English languages. EVALUATE CURRENT SERVICING OPTIONS AND RESOURCES FOR LEP CONSUMERS To improve support for LEP borrowers, mortgage servicers should start by reviewing e Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) Baseline Review Module 4: Fair Lending Risks Related to Mortgage Servicing. e Servicing Options for Consumers with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) section includes these (and other) key questions: • Does the entity offer servicing options for borrowers with limited English proficiency (LEP)? Are such options offered through live customer service? rough translated docu- ments? Please note the languages offered and servicing options provided. • Does the entity capture and track borrowers' indi- cated preferences to receive services in languages other than English? If so, please describe.

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