blocked from taking actions that would help it ameliorate a low rating. The revised manual is part of a broader
effort under Keith Noreika to tie CRA compliance examinations more closely to the community-serving purposes
of CRA. Read the revised manual.
APPRAISAL QUALIFICATIONS BOARD ISSUES NEW PROPOSAL TO
COMBAT APPRAISER SHORTAGE
As lenders continue to raise concerns about a lack of certified appraisers, particularly in rural areas, the Appraisal
Qualifications Board has released a fourth exposure draft of a proposal to change the qualification criteria for real
property appraisers. Comments on the proposal are due by January 12.
Importantly, the AQB proposed to remove college degree requirements for licensed residential appraisers and
provide alternatives to the bachelor’s degree requirement for certified residential appraisals. The proposal also
outlines an alternative track for licensed residential appraisers to become certified without obtaining a bachelor’s
degree. In addition, it would reduce the number of field hours needed from 2,000 to 1,000 for licensed appraisers
and 2,500 to 1,500 for certified appraisers.
ABA has previously called for changes to the appraiser qualifications as part of its ongoing effort to address the
appraiser shortage in rural areas, and welcomed the proposal. View the proposal.
UNIVERSAL RESIDENTIAL LOAN APPLICATION TO INCLUDE
LANGUAGE PREFERENCE QUESTION
The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced on October 20 that it will include a language preference
question on its updated Universal Residential Loan Application. The question will allow borrowers to specify if
they wish to communicate in a language other than English and identify their preferred language. The new URLA
form – which FHFA plans to issue this later this year – will go into effect beginning in July 2019 and will be
mandatory for loans made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beginning in February 2020.
In response to numerous concerns raised by ABA and other industry groups about the legal risks that such a
question would pose for lenders, FHFA included additional disclosure language intended to inform borrowers that
their loan transaction is likely to be conducted in English, and that communications may not be available in their
language of choice. The text also states that the language designation is for information collection purposes only,
and is not intended to create an expectation that the lender will proceed with the transaction in the borrower’s
In addition, the text includes information on the language services available to borrowers and directs them to
various language access resources. Fannie and Freddie will also make available an optional disclosure in
several languages informing borrowers of language resources, FHFA said.
ABA expressed disappointment over FHFA’s decision to move forward with the question and remains concerned
that the inclusion of the question will raise questions of liability under rules not promulgated by FHFA and for
which FHFA cannot provide safe harbor or alleviate concerns through disclosures. ABA will continue to analyze
the text in the coming days to determine if those concerns will be adequately addressed. View the question
URLA’s Language Preference Question Will Receive ECOA Safe Harbor from CFPB
Speaking at an industry conference on October 23, FHFA Director Mel Watt defended the decision and said that
the CFPB intends to provide a safe harbor under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. While he acknowledged the
concerns raised by many in the industry about the legal risk that including such a question would pose for
lenders, Watt said that FHFA worded the question to emphasize to borrowers that their loan transaction would
likely be conducted in English, and that indicating a preferred language does not create an expectation that the