Nationwide Title Clearing (NTC) Encourages Congress to Recommend “Safe Harbor” For Proposed QM Rule

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The Palm Harbor, Fla.-based company, which is a leader in the post-closing mortgage industry, believes that the “Safe Harbor” alternative of the Qualified Mortgage Rule will not severely limit American families from having access to safe and affordable mortgages when legislation is ruled upon after the Presidential election.

Nationwide Title Clearing

We are committed to providing feedback to help avoid excessively burdensome legislation and regulation for mortgage lenders and servicers because those kinds of restrictions ultimately have a negative impact on homeowners

Two alternatives currently under consideration by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will determine the availability of affordable mortgages to many American families. Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc. (NTC), a leader in the post-closing mortgage industry and an advocate for best practices and regulations that standardize its industry and benefit homeowners, feels that there is one clear choice to help consumers realize the dream of homeownership while simultaneously protecting lenders.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) established minimum underwriting standards for mortgages and prohibited the origination of home loans unless the lender first confirms, using exact standards, that the borrower can repay the mortgage. Lenders that do not fulfill this requirement will be potentially liable for the life of the loan. However, Congress also recognized that properly underwritten loans should not be saddled by this additional liability, and permitted the CFPB to define a class of loans known as “Qualified Mortgages” (QM).

The proposed rule offers two potential options for constructing the QM – a “safe harbor” or a “rebuttable presumption of compliance”. Only one will be adopted in the final rule, and a decision is expected by the CFPB after the November presidential election. (1) NTC believes that Congress should encourage the CFPB to implement the QM as a safe harbor to ensure that a large number of American families will not be cut off from access to safe and affordable mortgages.

There are vast differences between the two alternatives. (2)

•Under a legal safe harbor, if the creditor has originated a loan by following the guidelines under the QM, there will be certain protections from litigation. Under a safe harbor, litigation will only consider whether the QM guidelines have been met.

•A rebuttable presumption of compliance means that, although the lender is assumed to have assured the consumer’s ability to repay the mortgage, the consumer can still sue for reasons outside the normal underwriting process, which places a burden of proof on the lender to prove in court that it met the QM guidelines, and potentially allows for opinions by judges on what should have been considered in the underwriting process. Under a rebuttable presumption of compliance with Qualified Mortgages, the consumer can also litigate against a lender using their lack of ability to repay the mortgage as a foreclosure defense, even if the lender followed the underwriting guidelines issued by the CFPB.

“With a safe harbor, costs will be reduced for qualified borrowers and it will decrease the chance that lenders will leave the market,” said John Hillman, NTC’s CEO. “Under the rebuttable presumption of compliance, lenders will be apt to be ultra conservative in originating loans, potentially making homeownership less affordable to many Americans… [A rebuttable presumption] also means the costs of the resulting litigation will ultimately be paid for by all borrowers through increases in all loan rates to account for the future potential litigation.”

A strong legal safe harbor provides the best way of achieving congressional intent to balance consumer safeguards with access to credit, Hillman explained. Otherwise, a severe shortage of affordable mortgage credit to middle class families could occur.

Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc. says it will continue to advocate for legislation and regulations that will standardize the real estate market and mortgage industry for the benefit of homeowners.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with members of Congress and their staff to identify and incorporate industry best practices into a new, national standard for residential mortgage servicing,” Hillman said. “We are committed to providing feedback to help avoid excessively burdensome legislation and regulation for mortgage lenders and servicers because those kinds of restrictions ultimately have a negative impact on homeowners.”


About Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc.
Headquartered in Palm Harbor, Fla., Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc. (NTC) was founded in 1991 and has since grown to become the nation’s leading national post-closing services provider for the residential mortgage industry. In addition to supporting lenders, servicers and investors, including eight of the top 10 residential mortgage servicers in the country, the company’s land records and document experts are able to track and fulfill county document requirements for close to 3,600 recording jurisdictions nationwide. NTC specializes in providing property reports, lien release and assignment services, final document tracking, document retrieval, imaging and other custom business solutions. For more information, visit the company’s website at

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Diane D. Stein
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