Financial Assessment is taking effect now – were your loan officers and underwriters prepared for the impact of this major change in our thinking?

This post will be about Reverse Mortgages and the upcoming implementation of financial assessment. While I direct it to HECM originators and underwriters, you can probably rest assured it will end up on the agency or CFPB’s future “check lists” for use during an audit. So, what is a financial assessment?

Financial Assessment

Effective April 27th, 2015, all HECM borrowers will be submitted to a soft underwriting procedure called the “financial assessment”. It is a review procedure developed by FHA with input from the Industry. It requires the originator to be more savvy when collecting the initial data and requires the underwriter to review the borrower’s financial situation and certify to HUD that the borrower is “HECM-worthy”, and that the borrower’s financial profile is such that it becomes unlikely the HECM would default and become a liability to the FHA fund down the road somewhere.

Credit will be scrutinized more closely. In addition to federal or other liens and problems with prior mortgages, the underwriters will now screen at an enhanced level looking for borrower patterns of financial irresponsibility regarding use of credit, payment of taxes, maintenance, and insurance.  Title histories will be scrutinized more closely for unusual changes in ownership. And as always occupancy will remain a key issue for underwriter comfort level.

While this assessment does not rise to the level of a full underwrite it is certainly much more involved than what our borrowers have had to satisfy in the past.

Underwriters, you know your additional responsibilities. You read  ML 14-21, 14-22, and HUD’s Financial Assessment Guide . But what about you originators?

You guys are going to have to  ask more questions, dig deeper into credit, verify more, and educate more. If you don’t, your borrower will hear it all from the counselor, and FUD will ruin your prospects.

Because I also originate loans, I just completed my first round with financial assessment. It was manageable. Your attitude is a big part of how you deal with this change.

I am available for a one hour webinar with yourself or your staff, to review this new development and provide some guidance especially to the MLO. All you have to do is call the number above. Affordable training done by a licensed compliance attorney who actually originates HECM loans, go figure huh.

Don’t lose business where you can avoid it. And don’t originate loans that don’t meet the new guidelines, because that disappoints your senior and upsets the guy who pays the bills.

That’s it for now. If you need me, just let me know.

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