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Flexibilities Move Forward

Pandemic Priorities Continue To Drive Industry Modernization

Bob Niemi
Insider
Bob Niemi
A busy mortgage broker works from home.

There’s been a lot of discussion on progress with state mortgage regulators on remote work and modernization of branch licensing. The pandemic provided both licensed mortgage companies and state regulators with real life remote work experiences. This understanding and MBA efforts have states reviewing regulations that mandate originators operate only from a licensed location. 

The Mortgage Bankers Association has been working with a team of licensing advocates to expand mortgage licensing flexibilities and allow the mortgage business to provide access to more homebuyers. The main pillars of the effort are removal of in-state brick and mortar branch requirements, remove commutable distance limits and repeal regulations requiring work only from a licensed location. 

In my last column, I mentioned Arkansas, Maryland, Vermont and Washington as states that have already taken action to amend regulation and provided expanded work from home. These four successes are a good start, but four more states have recently published their expanded remote work efforts.

Connecticut: On July 1, 2021, Commissioner Perez issued an order establishing requirements for conducting business from a remote location. The 100-mile commutable distance rule was also removed. Connecticut did include the need to maintain records identifying the dates and locations of authorized remote office activity along with other requirements consistent with previous state agency guidance on remote work during the pandemic.

Kansas: On June 30th the state issued public guidance to allow remote work with a plan to introduce language in 2022 legislative session to codify this policy that originators and processors are not required to only work from a licensed office. Like all state actions, CML-2021-1 should be reviewed in detail, but the guidance states that mortgage companies should be mindful of the best practices offered for remote workers during the pandemic.

Massachusetts: On July 12th, the Division of Banks provided guidance to formally authorize the continued option for personnel to operate remotely from non-licensed locations, but subject to nine conditions detailed in the memo. While eight aligned with previous requirements from other state flexibilities, information regarding the specific activities conducted by personnel via remote work must be maintained and available upon request by the Division was also included. We encourage you to review the Guidance to Licensees and Registrants Regarding Employee Remote Work for full details.

Texas: Texas passed House Bill 3617 which removes the previous requirement for mortgage companies under section 156 to maintain a physical office in Texas.  However, offices in Texas that conduct mortgage business will still need to be licensed. This goes into effect on September 1, 2021.

Keys state regulators have acknowledged the need to modernize and recognize how the mortgage world operates. The effort continues with several bills in the legislative process and more efforts to introduce branch licensing flexibility and allow remote work for all mortgage staff. These efforts began more than two years prior to the pandemic but will continue as advocacy pushes for modernization and increased access to credit. 

For more information and how you can advocate for flexibility in your state, visit 

www.mba.org/LicensingFlexibility/ 

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Banker August 2021 issue.
Bob Niemi
Bob Niemi

Bob Niemi is a senior advisor at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.

Published on
Sep 08, 2021
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