Alston & Bird Consumer Finance Blog

Reverse Mortgages

HUD Issues Guidance on Appraisal Reviews and Reconsiderations of Value

What Happened?

Continuing its focus on appraisal bias, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) issued new guidance to Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) mortgagees regarding appraisal reviews and reconsiderations of value (“ROVs”).  On May 1, HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2024-07 (the “Letter”), announcing updates to the FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook (Handbook 4000.1), finalizing a proposal that outlines when a borrower may request an ROV and how the lender must respond.  The Mortgagee Letter includes substantially identical provisions applicable to FHA-insured forward and HECM (reverse) mortgage loans.

Why Is It Important?

Combatting appraisal bias has been a federal government priority since the 2021 announcement of the Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (“PAVE”).  As part of the PAVE efforts (as we previously reported), HUD published a draft version of the Letter (Borrower Request for Review of Appraisal Results) for public comment.  In the proposal, HUD sought comment on (among other issues) when material deficiencies in the appraisal process may merit a second appraisal and/or permit a borrower to request an ROV.  The Mortgagee Letter finalizes that proposed guidance, incorporating feedback received.

First, HUD has amended the criteria for determining whether a deficiency in an appraisal is “material.” In addition to having “a direct impact on value and marketability,” a material deficiency may be one that “indicates a potential violation of fair housing laws or professional standards related to nondiscrimination” (such as the USPAP Ethics Rule).  As an example of such deficiency, the amended Handbook will include “statements related to characteristics of a protected class,” unless the consideration is permitted by fair housing laws.

Second, HUD has clarified that when the nature of a material deficiency is such that the appraiser cannot resolve it, the underwriter may forgo communication with the appraiser before ordering a second appraisal.  If a mortgagee orders a second appraisal because of material deficiencies, it must report the deficient appraisal to the relevant state regulator (the appraisal board or equivalent).

Third, HUD has updated its requirements for appraisal review as they relate to the criteria for determining the acceptability of a property.  As in its proposed version, the Letter requires a mortgagee to ensure that its underwriters “review the appraisal and determine that it is complete, accurate, and provides a credible analysis of the marketability and value of the Property.”  The mortgagee must also ensure that as part of such review, the underwriter is able to identify appraisal deficiencies, including discriminatory practices.  The underwriter must remediate such deficiencies by: (a) requesting that the appraiser provide a correction, explanation, or substantiation (as appropriate); (b) requesting an ROV; and/or (c) ordering a second appraisal.

Fourth, HUD has added ROV requirements to its general property acceptability criteria.  When communicating with an appraiser regarding an ROV, the Letter requires the underwriter to: (a) include a description of the areas in the appraisal report and the additional information that require a response from the appraiser; (b) provide, as available, detailed information, data, or relevant comparables; (c) only include comparables that are relevant as of the appraisal’s effective date; and (d) include a maximum of five alternate comparables.  The appraiser must include his or her response in a revised version of the appraisal, and the mortgagee may not charge the borrower for costs associated with the ROV process.

Further, the Letter requires each mortgagee to establish a process for a borrower-initiated ROV request (which an underwriter must assess for applicability, and relevance and appropriateness of information, before communicating to the appraiser).  The Letter requires a mortgagee’s process for borrower-initiated ROVs to include: (a) the provision of a disclosure regarding the process, both at application and upon delivery of the appraisal report to the borrower; (b) specification in such disclosure of the process for submitting an ROV request, including any requirements for or limitations on supporting information; and (c) the establishment of protocols for communication with the borrower regarding the request throughout the ROV process.

Finally, the Letter requires a mortgagee to include in its Quality Control Plan standards for both the appraisal review and the ROV process.

What Do I Need to Do?

Mortgagees of FHA-insured loans have until September 2 to implement the Letter’s requirements (for FHA case numbers assigned on or after that date). However, given that early adoption is permitted, lenders should review the new requirements against their current practices to ensure these requirements are appropriately incorporated into a mortgagee’s policies and procedures and its vendor management oversight program (to the extent the mortgagee utilizes appraisal management companies).

HUD Seeks Comment on Proposed Notice to Change HECM for Purchase Program to Expand Funding Sources and Interested Party Contributions

A&B Abstract:

On October 24, 2023, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) published, for public comment, a Federal Register Notice (“Proposed Notice”) to implement changes to the Federal housing Administration’s (“FHA”) Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (“HECM”) for Purchase program. The Proposed Notice expands the list of acceptable funding sources and permits additional interested party contributions to satisfy the borrower’s monetary investment requirement. Under the Proposed Notice, the FHA would also remove existing restrictions that prohibit the borrower from accepting cash from a seller or another person or entity that financially benefits from the HECM for Purchase transaction. HUD is seeking comment from interested members of the public on the Proposed Notice. The period for public comment ends on November 24, 2023.


The HECM for Purchase program allows mortgagees to originate HECM for Purchase transactions to purchase a 1-to-4 family dwelling unit, one unit of which will serve as the borrower’s principal residence. The program requires borrowers to contribute substantial liquid assets to meet the negotiated contract sales price for the property plus standard origination fees and charges.

In 2009, the FHA published Mortgage Letter 2009-11 (“ML 2009-11”) which prohibited certain funding sources for the investment:

  • sweat equity;
  • trade equity;
  • rent credit; and
  • cash or its equivalent, in whole or in part, received from the seller or any other person or entity that financially benefits from the HECM for Purchase transaction, or any third party or entity that is reimbursed, directly or indirectly, by the seller or any other person or entity that financially benefits from the HECM for Purchase transaction.

In addition, ML 2009-11 prohibited seller contributions (or “seller concessions”) in any HECM for Purchase transaction. “Seller concessions” are the use of “loan points, interest rate buy-downs, closing cost down payment assistance, builder incentives, gifts or personal property given by the seller, or any other party involved in the transaction.” These limits are meant to redirect expenses customarily paid by the seller or other interest parties to the borrower.

In 2017, the FHA codified the requirements for the HECM for Purchase program, and other program changes, and also codified three permitted funding sources for the borrower’s required money investment (the “Final Rule”):

  • Cash on hand;
  • Cash from the sale or liquidation of the borrower’s assets; and
  • HECM proceeds.

The Final Rule also changed the funding source restrictions to permit interested party contributions to pay for:

  • fees required to be paid by the seller under state or local law;
  • fees that are customarily paid by the seller in the locality of the subject property; and
  • purchase of the Home Warranty policy by the seller.

The Proposed Notice

The Proposed Notice would permit interested parties to contribute up to six percent of the sales price and expand the list of permitted interested party contributions.

Under the Proposed Notice, an “interested party contribution” would be defined to mean a payment by an interested party or combination of parties, toward the borrower’s origination fees, other closing costs including any items paid outside of closing, prepaid items, and discount points. “Interested Parties” refers to sellers, real estate agents, builders, developers, mortgagees, third-party originators, or other parties with an interest in the transaction.

Under the Proposed Notice, the six percent limit on interest party contributions may be applied towards but may not exceed the cost of:

  • origination fees;
  • other closing costs paid outside of closing (e.g., credit report and appraisal);
  • prepaid items;
  • discount points;
  • interested party payment for permanent and temporary interest rate buydowns; and
  • payment of the initial mortgage insurance premium.

Additionally, the Proposed Notice would also permit the following additional funding sources to satisfy the borrower’s monetary investment:

  • premium pricing;
  • gifts;
  • disaster relief grants; and
  • employer assistance.

This would be the first time that premium pricing is permitted for use in the HECM for Purchase program. Under the Proposed Notice, borrowers would be able to receive a credit from the mortgagee or third-party originator to reduce their closing costs in exchange for a certain initial mortgage interest rate.

Premium pricing credits from the mortgagee or third-party originator would be excluded from the six percent limit if the mortgagee or third-party originator is not the seller, real estate agent, builder, or developer. The interested party contributions for the various fees permitted under 24 C.F.R. § 206.44(c)(1) will also be excluded from the six percent interested party contribution limit. The FHA will also exclude the satisfaction of a Property Assessed Clean Energy (“PACE”) lien or obligation against the property by the property seller from the definition of an interested party contribution in the HECM for Purchase program.


The Proposed Notice is an effort by the FHA to more closely align the HECM for Purchase program with its forward mortgage programs. If implemented, the Proposed Notice would likely make it easier for borrowers to meet their monetary investment requirement by expanding the list of funding sources and permitting interested party contributions. Lenders participating in the HECM for Purchase program should review the Proposed Notice and consider submitting a comment.

Consumer Finance State Roundup

The pace of legislative activity from this year’s current session can make it hard to stay abreast of new laws.  The Consumer Finance ABstract’s “Consumer Finance State Roundup” is intended to provide a brief overview of recently enacted measures of potential interest.  

During this current legislative session, the following three states have enacted measures of potential interest to Consumer Finance ABstract readers:

  • Colorado:  Effective August 8, 2023, Senate Bill 248 (2023 Colo. Sess. Laws 360) amends collection agency licensure requirements under the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  First, the measure amends Section 5-16-119 of the Colorado Revised Statutes to allow licensees to work from remote locations under certain conditions.  Specifically, the licensee must: (a) ensure that no in-person customer interactions are conducted at the remote location; (b) not designate the remote location as a business location to the consumer; (c) maintain appropriate safeguards for licensee data and consumer data, information, and records, including utilizing a secure VPN for secure access; (d) employ appropriate risk-based monitoring and oversight processes of work performed from a remote location that includes maintaining records of the monitoring and oversight processes; (e) ensure that consumer information and records are not maintained at a remote location; (f) provide appropriate employee training to ensure employees keep conversations confidential about and with consumers that are conducted from a remote location, and ensure that employees work in an environment that is conducive to ensure privacy and confidential conversations; and (g) ensure that consumer and licensee information and records are available for regulatory oversight and examination.  Second, the measure defines “remote location” as “a private residence of an employee of a licensee or another location selected by the employee and approved by the licensee.”
  • Colorado:  Effective June 7, 2023, House Bill 1266 (2023 Colo. Sess. Laws 440) amends the reverse mortgages provisions of the Colorado Revised Statutes to address an exception to repayment requirements of reverse mortgage transactions when a subject property is uninhabitable.  First, the measure defines the term “force majeure” in Section 11-38-102, describing certain criteria that would designate a subject property as uninhabitable as a principal residence of the reverse mortgage borrower.  Second, the measure amends Section 11-38-107 to create exceptions to repayment requirements of a reverse mortgage transaction when a home is not occupied due to a “force majeure”.   When the home is temporarily uninhabitable, the measure establishes that the reverse mortgage will not become due and payable to the lender (to the extent allowable by HUD’s regulations and policies), provided that all of the following conditions are met:  (a) the borrower must be engaged in repairing the home with the intent to reoccupy the home as a principal residence, or must sell the home; (b) the borrower must stay in communication with the lender while the home is being repaired and must reasonably respond to any lender inquiries; (c) the borrower must comply with all other terms and conditions of the reverse mortgage; and (d) the repairing or rebuilding of the home must not reduce the lender’s security.  Further, the amended section requires the lender to disclose these requirements to the borrower at closing.
  • Nebraska:  Effective June 7, 2023, Legislative Bill 92 amends various provisions of the Nebraska Revised Statutes, including the Nebraska Residential Mortgage Licensing Act (the “Mortgage Act”) and the Nebraska Installment Loan Act (the “Installment Act”).  First, the measure amends Section 45-735 under the Mortgage Act, to authorize the Department of Banking and Finance (“Department”) to adopt and promulgate rules, regulations, and orders to regarding the use of remote work arrangements conducted outside of a main office location or branch office by employees or agents, including mortgage loan originators, of licensed mortgage bankers, registrants, or installment loan companies.  (Current law prohibits a mortgage loan originator from conducting mortgage loan origination activities at any location that is not the main office of a licensed mortgage banker, registrant, or installment loan company, or a branch office of a licensed mortgage banker or registrant.)  Second, the measure amends the Installment Act by: (a) in Section 45-1002, adding definitions for the terms “consumer” and “loan”; (b)in Section 45-1003, adding a licensure requirement  for persons that are not financial institutions; and (c) in in Section 45-1006, permitting the Director of the Department to waive hearing requirements for any applicant that does not originate loans under the statute.
  • Texas:  Effective September 1, 2023, House Bill 219 adds provisions relating to lien release to Chapter 343 of the Texas Finance Code.  First, this measure requires that no later than the 60th day after receiving the correct payoff amount for a home loan from a mortgagor, a mortgage servicer or mortgagee must: (a) deliver to the mortgagor a release of lien for the home loan; or (b) file the release of lien with the appropriate county clerk’s office for recording in the real property records of the county.  Second, the measure requires a mortgage servicer or mortgagee to deliver or file the release of lien not later than the 30th day after receipt of the written request from the mortgagor, if on or before the 20th day after the date of the home loan payoff, the mortgagor delivers a written request to the mortgage servicer or mortgagee for the release of lien to be delivered to the mortgagor or filed with the county clerk.  Third, the measure requires a mortgage servicer or mortgagee to comply with these new requirements only if the entity has the authority to deliver or file a release of lien for the home loan. Fourth, in the event of a conflict between the new requirements and a home loan agreement entered prior to the measure’s effective date, the provisions of the home loan agreement would prevail.  Fifth, the measure provides relevant definitions, namely:  (a) that the terms “mortgage servicer”, “mortgagee” and “mortgagor” have the same meaning as under  Section 51.0001 of the Texas Property Code; and (b) the term “release of lien” means “a release of a deed of trust or other lien securing a home loan”.


Massachusetts Enacts Emergency COVID-19 Measure Addressing Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Moratoria, Forbearance, Evictions, Reverse Mortgage Counseling

A&B Abstract:

On April 20, 2020, Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, signed into law HB 4647 (2020 Mass. Acts 65), an emergency measure, effective immediately, providing for mortgage forbearances and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency. This measure also waives the in-person counseling requirement for reverse mortgage loans.  This law follows guidance issued by the Division of Banks on March 25, 2020, setting forth the Division’s expectations of mortgage servicers to provide relief to borrowers adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The emergency measure requires a creditor or mortgagee to grant a forbearance on a mortgage loan for residential property if the borrower submits a request to the servicer affirming that the borrower has experienced a COVID-19 hardship, subject to the following terms:

  • the forbearance shall not be for more than 180 days;
  • no fees, penalties or interest beyond the amounts scheduled and calculated as if the borrower made all contractual payments on time and in full under the mortgage contract shall accrue during the forbearance;
  • a payment subject to the forbearance shall be added to the end of the term of the loan, unless otherwise agreed to by the borrower and mortgagee;
  • a borrower and mortgagee are not prohibited from entering into an alternative payment agreement for the mortgage payments subject to forbearance;
  • the mortgagee must not furnish negative mortgage payment information to a consumer reporting agency related to forborne mortgage payments; and
  • a creditor or mortgagee is not required to grant this forbearance if the borrower’s request is made after the expiration of this provision of the emergency measure (the sooner of 120 days from its effective date or 45 days the Governor’s COVID-19 emergency declaration has been lifted).

For purposes of this section, “residential property” includes real property located in the commonwealth, on which there is a dwelling house with accommodations for 4 or fewer separate households that is the borrower’s principal residence; excluding investment property, property taken, in whole or in part, as collateral for a commercial loan, and property subject to condemnation or receivership.

This forbearance provision is similar to a federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) forbearance, with some notably differences.  First, this provision is not limited to federally backed mortgage loans.  Second, the forborne payments are to be tacked on to the end of the mortgage term unless otherwise agreed to by the parties.  Last, the terms differ in two respects.  First, unlike the CARES Act, Massachusetts does not require an additional 180 extension of the forbearance.  Second, the requirement for a servicer to offer a forbearance will remain in effect until the Governor’s COVID-19 emergency declaration is lifted, which at this point is unknown.


For purposes of foreclosure of “residential property,” as that term is defined above, the emergency measure  imposes a foreclosure moratorium, meaning a mortgagee (or a person acting in the name of a mortgagee) is prohibited from:

  • causing a notice of foreclosure sale to be published;
  • exercising a power of sale;
  • initiating a judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure process; or
  • filing a complaint to determine the military status of the borrower under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Vacant or abandoned properties are expressly excluded from this foreclosure moratorium.  The foreclosure moratorium became effective immediately and expires after the sooner of 120 days or 45 days after the COVID-19 emergency declaration has been lifted.  This moratorium appears broader than the moratorium imposed under the CARES Act in that it likely will extend beyond the CARES Act’s moratorium of May 18, 2020 and that it is not limited to “federally backed” loans. Note, most residential mortgage foreclosures are nonjudicial in Massachusetts and begin by sending a delinquent borrower a notice of default and right to cure as required by Mass. General Laws chapter 244, Section 35A.  It is likely that such notice could be viewed as initiating a foreclosure, and thus not allowed during this foreclosure moratorium.


 With respect to evictions, the emergency measure provides as follows:

  • notwithstanding any law, rule, regulation or order to the contrary, a landlord or owner of a property shall not, for purposes of a “non-essential eviction” for a residential dwelling unit, terminate a tenancy or send any notice requesting or demanding that a tenant vacate the premises;
  • a landlord shall not impose a late fee for non-payment of rent for a residential dwelling unit;
  • a landlord shall not furnish rental payment data to a consumer reporting agency related to the non-payment of rent if, not later than 30 days after the missed rent payment, the tenant provides notice and documentation to the landlord that the non-payment of rent was due to a COVID-19 financial impact;
  • subject to certain conditions, a lessor who received rent in advance for the last month of tenancy pursuant to Mass. Gen. Law chapter 186, § 15B, may access and utilize the funds received in advance for certain enumerated uses; and
  • nothing in the emergency measure shall be construed to relieve a tenant from the obligation to pay rent or restrict a landlord’s ability to recover rent.

Related to residential dwelling units, a “non-essential eviction” is an eviction: (i) for non-payment of rent, (ii) resulting from a foreclosure, (iii) for no fault or cause, or (iv) for cause that does not involve allegations of: (a) criminal activity that may impact the health and safety of other residents, health care workers, emergency personnel, persons lawfully on the property or general public, or (b) lease violations that may impact the health and safety of other residents, health care workers, emergency personal, persons lawfully on the subject property or the general public. The Massachusetts executive office of housing and economic development has authority to issue emergency regulations to implement this section and develop forms for notice and documentation to a landlord that the non-payment of rent was due to COVID.  Also note that the measure contains similar restrictions for landlords of small business premises and limits the ability of a court, sheriff or others to process or enforce non-essential evictions.

Temporary waiver of In-Person Counseling for Reverse Mortgage

Massachusetts is temporarily waiving the in-person counseling requirement set forth in Mass. Gen. Law chapter 167E, § 7A and chapter 171, § 65C1/2 for reverse mortgage loans during the state-declared COVID-19 emergency and until such emergency has been lifted.  In lieu of in-person counseling, the requirement is satisfied by a written certification from a counselor with a third-party organization indicating that a borrower has received counseling via a synchronous, real-time videoconferencing or telephone counseling, provided that the counselor is approved by the executive office of elder affairs for purposes of such counseling.  The measure does not specifically address the reverse mortgage counseling regulation set forth in 209 CMR 55.04. However, given that the regulation is provided under the statutory authority cited above, there is reason to believe that it should also be covered by this temporary waiver.


In addition to ensuring compliance with the federal CARES Act, mortgage servicers need to monitor newly enacted state measures responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and develop policies and procedures to ensure compliance.

New York Enacts HECM Law

A&B ABstract:

Effective March 5, 2020, New York Assembly Bill 5626 (“AB 5626”) regulates the origination and servicing of the federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) home equity conversion mortgages (“HECMs”).

Significant Impact to Mortgage Lenders and Servicers

With the stated purpose of providing “new regulations on reverse mortgage products pertaining to the marketing, origination, and management” of HECMs, AB 5626 will expand New York’s reverse mortgage law to apply to HECMs.  The following provides a brief summary of AB 5626’s substantive provisions:


The measure applies to an “authorized lender,” as defined in section 280 of the Real Property Law. Under current law, authorized lenders of proprietary reverse mortgage loans are subject to additional approval by the Superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services. It is unclear if such additional approval will now be required to originate or service HECMs.

Advertising and Offering of Reverse Mortgages:

In addition to imposing new disclosure obligations and prohibiting an authorized lender or any other party from engaging in any unfair or deceptive practices in connection with the marketing or offering of reverse mortgage loans, AB 5626 prohibits using the words “government insured” or other similar language representing that reverse mortgage loans are insured, supported and sponsored by any governmental entity in any solicitation, or representing that any reverse mortgage loan is other than a commercial product.  This may prove challenging given that HUD characterizes its own HECM loan product as a “reverse mortgage insured by the U.S. Federal Government.”

Periodic Statements:

The measure requires an authorized lender to provide additional disclosures on the borrower’s periodic statement when the authorized lender administers payments for property obligations (such as tax payments or mortgage or homeowners insurance) and when those payments are derived from the proceeds of the mortgage.

Life Expectancy Set Aside (“LESA”): 

Under AB 5626, an authorized lender must provide notice to the borrower by telephone and first-class mail when the borrower’s home equity line of credit or LESA is depleted to ten percent or less of its value (and again when the borrower’s line of credit or LESA is depleted entirely).  The measure does not specify the timeframe for providing this notice.


The measure prohibits an authorized lender from making an advance payment for any obligation arising from the mortgaged real property and, if there is an insurance or tax default, the authorized lender may only pay those premiums and/or taxes which are in arrears.  It is unclear if this provision applies to borrowers who have established a LESA, as HUD’s HECM regulations require a mortgagee to make disbursements for property charges before the bills become delinquent.

Occupancy Defaults:

The measure addresses situations where an authorized lender seeks to foreclose on a HECM loan because the property is no longer the primary residence of, or occupied by, the borrower.

If the authorized lender does not receive any responses to mailings related to verification of the borrower’s primary residence and/or occupancy, prior to commencing any foreclosure proceeding the authorized lender must: (a) call the borrower (or, if the borrower cannot be reached by telephone, a designated third party specified by the borrower), and (b) visit the property, in person.  During such visit, the authorized lender or its agent must provide clear information as to who they are, that the visit pertains to the reverse mortgage, the reason for the home visit, and the telephone number to call for further information.

Further, the authorized lender must wait at least 30 days following such visit, in addition to any additional time or notice requirements specified by any other provision of law, before initiating a foreclosure action on the basis that the mortgaged property is no longer the primary residence of the borrower.  If the borrower contacts the authorized lender and provides proof of residence or occupancy after such visit, but before the commencement of a foreclosure action, the authorized lender is barred from initiating such foreclosure action.  Presumably, this provision would not require an authorized lender to violate privacy laws, debt collection laws (which may only permit the authorized lender to obtain contact information and not discuss the debt), or trespassing laws.

Inspection Fees: 

AB 5626 prohibits an authorized lender from charging the borrower any fee for the visit or inspection, including any and all inspections conducted by the authorized lender to verify the status of the reverse mortgage, or any suspected or actual default condition.

Closing Attorneys: 

The measure requires both the authorized lender and the borrower to be represented at closing by an attorney, and to have at least one attorney present to conduct the closing.  It is unclear who is responsible for the cost of the borrower’s attorney.


Failure to comply with the requirements of AB 5626 could result in significant penalties.  For example, any person injured by new Section 280-b of the Real Property Law (which the measure creates) or HUD’s HECM regulations may bring an individual action to recover treble actual damages plus the prevailing plaintiff’s reasonable attorney’s fees.  Moreover, compliance with the provisions is a condition precedent to bringing a foreclosure action; failure to comply is a complete defense to a foreclosure. Accordingly, AB 5626 could have a significant impact on mortgage lenders and servicers of HECMs.


By adding several new obligations on top of HUD’s existing requirements, this law may impose significant burdens on lenders and servicers.  We anticipate amendments to existing Banking Regulation Part 79 that, hopefully, will clarify many ambiguities.