Does the New URLA Do a Disservice to Veterans?

Dave Stevens talks with VAREP's G2 Varrato on how proposed changes impact veterans

There have been a variety of proposed revisions to the Uniform Residential Loan Application. Work done under the regime of FHFA Director Mel Watt has continued under Director Mark Calabria. One striking change has some Veteran housing groups concerned.

VAREP, the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals, is an active community of thousands of veterans working in the real estate industry with 46 chapters spanning 21 states. They have been vocal on ensuring access and opportunity for veterans to help with housing and homeownership.

One such Veteran is G2 Varrato (G2 is childhood nickname), the National Legislation Committee Director at VAREP. G2 reached out to Mortgage Media to highlight concerns in the revised proposes URLA.

It’s pretty simple really, just look at the side by side sections of the former proposed form and the current proposed version:

In the former version on the left, the question of military service appears in the top section, just below basic borrower information. It’s prominent and required before signature.

The newest version has it is at the very end of the document, below the borrower’s signature and attestations, where it could appear as an afterthought and not required for acknowledgement by the borrower.

Why is this so important to veterans? G2 states that VAREP is concerned that many Veterans buying perhaps their first home after or during service may not be aware of the benefits of the VA program that they can take advantage of. If they lack experience with home purchasing, and if the loan officer they are working with doesn’t do many VA loans (or perhaps avoids them for some reason), then Veterans may be denied the opportunity to get one of these loans.

G2 argues that having it in the top section promotes more borrowers to ask, and motivates more loan officers to offer the VA program.

He further suggests that by moving it below the borrowers signature and attestation, it may never actually get completed by the borrower. Having it located at the end, next to the HMDA data collection questions, may simply result in the lender filling in the blanks, removing the borrower from even being aware that the questions exist, potentially eliminating the opportunity to learn about veteran benefits in the home buying process.

States G2: “It makes no sense for me, a veteran, to sign off on a document stating ‘I have been given full disclosure of a document’ when I have not been fully disclosed.”

VAREP members met with staff from FHFA during the drafting of the previous version of the proposed application, but the revisions are viewed as a slap in the face to Veteran real estate professionals who specialize in this area and work to represent those that have sacrificed and may be doing so now for their country.

What happens next? Veteran supporters and advocates can make their voices heard by notifying the FHFA, the VA, and their members of congress. Clearly the move was not meant to intentionally eliminate opportunity for US military veterans and active service members, but the intent may not help with the impact to these potential homebuyers.

 

David H. Stevens, CMB, is former SVP of Single Family at Freddie Mac, former EVP at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, former President and COO of the Long and Foster Realty Companies, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and FHA Commissioner, former CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association