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FHFA’s Watt Defends URLA Language Preference Update

Phil Hall
Oct 24, 2017
The Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General (FHFA OIG) has issued a report stating that former Director Mel Watt misused his position to force a romantic relationship on a female colleague

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt used his appearance at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Annual Convention to defended his agency's decision to include a new language preference question in the upcoming Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA).
 
In a speech delivered yesterday at the convention, Watt acknowledged that many mortgage professionals previously raised an objection to this change in the URLA. But he insisted that it was necessary to fully serve the wide diversity of mortgage borrowers.
 
“We all agree that it is important for every borrower to understand the terms of their loan,” he stated. “The question, therefore, was how best to improve the process of meeting these objectives.”
Watt added that there were two main factors that fueled the decision to include a language preference choice in the URLA came down to two factors.
 
“First, we concluded that the final wording of the question will set the right borrower expectations and appropriately mitigate legal concerns for lenders,” Watt said. “The wording of the question emphasizes that the mortgage transaction is likely to be conducted in English, explains that mortgage resources may not be available in languages other than English and explains that a borrower's indication of a different preferred language does not mean the lender agrees to communicate or transact in the borrower's preferred language.”
 
The second reason, Watt added, was that this was the first URLA update in 20 years and another update was not likely in the near future.
 
“We concluded that this was the right time to start having borrowers make this important information available to lenders and that making this change now will reduce the prospect of another expensive retooling of Enterprise and industry systems in the future,” Watt said. “In the long run, I think we will all find that both the decision and the timing of it will be beneficial.”

 
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