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Mortgage Servicers: VA Issues Guidance Regarding Noncompliance in Processing VA Assumptions

BY: Anoush Garakani
Single family house on pile of money.

A&B Abstract:

On December 20, 2023, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-23-27 (the “Circular”) to remind holders and servicers of VA-guaranteed loans about their obligation to process assumptions and how the VA will address non-compliance with its assumption requirements. The Circular became effective immediately upon issuance.

The Circular

Holders and servicers of VA-guaranteed loans are responsible for ensuring compliance with VA’s requirements, including those regarding the processing of loan assumptions. Indeed, in May 2023, the VA issued guidance clarifying its assumption procedures and emphasizing that assumptions are a fundamental feature of a VA-guaranteed loan and are to be processed in accordance with VA requirements. Notably, failure to comply with the VA’s requirements constitutes a defense against the VA’s obligation to pay a guaranty claim on the affected loan(s).

In the Circular, the VA notes that “certain holders have questioned whether they are required to process an assumption that meets VA’s requirements and can instead deny approval due to holder-imposed criteria (overlays) or other reasons. Examples include, but are not limited to, cases where:

  • a holder refuses to accept an assumption package;
  • a servicer with automatic authority accepts an assumption package but does not make a decision within 45 days;
  • a holder without automatic authority accepts an assumption package but does not forward to VA within 35 days;
  • a holder denies an assumptor’s application due to a holder overlay; and
  • a holder denies an assumptor’s application, VA approves the assumption on appeal, and the holder refuses to complete the assumption due to a holder overlay or other reason.”

The Circular warns holders and servicers that willful refusal to process an assumption package in accordance with VA statutes and associated regulations negatively affects Veterans’ ability to use their earned VA-guaranteed home loan benefits, including selling their home through an assumption, and that such a willful failure to comply constitutes a defense against VA’s liability on the guaranty.

VA Procedures for Noncompliance

The Circular sets forth the following procedures that the VA will follow to address noncompliance with its loan assumption requirements. If VA determines that a holder failed to process an assumption package in accordance with VA requirements, the VA will notify the holder of the failure to comply and direct the holder to timely remediate the failure. If, after 7 calendar days, VA is not satisfied that the holder is taking appropriate steps to process the assumption, or VA determines at any time that the servicer’s inaction may result in irreparable harm to the Veteran, the VA will take the following steps:

  • Insert a notation in the loan file that VA has asserted a defense against liability and will not pay any guaranty claim for the loan.
  • Notify the Government National Mortgage Association (“Ginnie Mae”) that VA has asserted a defense against liability and, as such, the guaranty payable on the loan has been effectively reduced to $0. Note that reducing the guaranty payable on the loan to $0 may render the loan defective and subject to cure, substitution, and/or buyout under Ginnie Mae guidelines.
  • If, after taking the steps described above, VA receives sufficient notice and evidence that the servicer completed the assumption, VA will remove the notation in the loan file and notify Ginnie Mae that VA has readjusted the guaranty payable on the loan back to the original amount.

Repeated Noncompliance

In addition, the Circular notes that repeated failure to process assumptions for VA-guaranteed loans may subject holders to additional measures such as:

  • additional examination and audit;
  • referral to VA’s Office of Inspector General for further investigation;
  • various penalties associated with false claims, program fraud civil liability, and other legal or administrative sanctions;
  • action pursuant to 38 U.S.C. § 3704(d), including VA’s refusal either temporarily or permanently to guarantee any loans made by such holder or barring such holder from servicing or acquiring guaranteed loans; and
  • notification to the public that VA has found the holder responsible for repeated, willful noncompliance with VA’s statutes and regulations.


Given that the VA is telegraphing its focus on ensuring compliance with the VA’s loan assumption requirements, now is a good time for holders and servicers to ensure that their compliance management systems are robust enough to ensure compliance with the VA’s loan assumption requirements.

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