“Although home foreclosures, mortgage delinquencies, and underwater mortgages have all declined steadily, they still affect millions of consumers who continue to feel the effects of the crisis. The pace of recovery has clearly been uneven around the country, particularly in communities of color,” said Richard Cordray, Director of the CFPB in a speech to mortgage servicers. “And I agree with Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt that the market is not yet supporting access to credit for the full spectrum of creditworthy borrowers; average credit scores for home purchase loans are still above the levels historically viewed as normal from past years.”
Cordray was not forthcoming with praise for the mortgage servicing industry during his speech on Tuesday, but instead spent most of his time highlighting work the CFPB has done in the past five years to revive the mortgage industry that was “devastated by the financial crisis.”
“We firmly believe that through our work in this area, the Consumer Bureau has played an important part in these developments,” said Cordray. “We know that sometimes you are focused only on one side of the equation, namely the compliance costs you have incurred in implementing the rules we issued. That is a fact, but it is an inevitable one. No economic sector that precipitates a global financial meltdown could possibly expect to escape far-reaching reforms, as the Congress so dictated.”
No economic sector that precipitates a global financial meltdown could possibly expect to escape far-reaching reforms, as the Congress so dictated.
-Richard Cordray, Director for the CFPB
The implementation of these rules has not be easy on servicers, and there has been some noted push back since their publication in 2014. Because of this, the CFPB revised and updated the servicing rules in August in hopes of working out the kinks and subsiding legitimate concerns. Cordray said that responses to these updated final rules indicate that consumers are finding the new initiatives helpful and easier to understand and subsequently leading to consumers who are less anxious and more satisfied with how things are being handled.
But the CFPB Director also said that the best way to insure consumer satisfaction is paying more conscious attention to what those consumers themselves have to say.
“We have now received more than one million consumer complaints, which we study to prioritize our own supervision and enforcement work,” said Cordray. “We have published more than 646,000 of them, along with data on company responses. We share this data not only to empower consumers and inform the public, but also so that companies can learn from the data and improve their own operations.”
“By closely analyzing complaint patterns, we can identify spikes in specific complaint types, emerging trends, issues with new and evolving products, and patterns across geographic areas, companies and consumer demographics,” he continued. “We urge you to be doing the same thing, not only with our complaints and the feedback you receive directly from your own customers, but also by reviewing complaints made about others in the same markets. This is data you can use to address current problems and prevent issues from arising in the future.”
Cordray finished his time telling the servicers that their efforts to grow their businesses were the key to rebuilding the housing industry and thus contributing strongly to the economic recovery rather than holding it back.
“We all are aware that the mortgage market has undergone dramatic change in the past decade,” said Cordray. “It has traveled a long and winding road from the irresponsible spree that sabotaged the world’s largest economy through a highly restrictive market that excluded many creditworthy applicants from qualifying for reasonable and responsible loans. Under our new rules, what is now emerging is a mortgage market in a steady recovery.”