FHFA Removes Preferred Language Question from URLA

By Nicole Schiavo. Earlier this month the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it had directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make several changes to the Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA), including the removal of a question asking applicants to indicate their preferred language.  This election, the announcement stated, will be part of a voluntary consumer information form instead of part of the standard URLA. 

In 2017, under different leadership and in response to pressure from consumer advocate groups, the FHFA announced it would include the language question on the updated standard form for mortgage lenders.  The FHFA Director at the time, Melvin L. Watt, stated that “[a]dding a preferred language question to the URLA will enable mortgage industry participants to connect [limited English proficient] borrowers to available language access resources.”  This announcement was met with pushback from the lending industry that expressed concerns surrounding translation expectations and additional legal risk for lenders. In its announcement earlier this month, the FHFA did not indicate the reason the language preference question is being removed from the revised URLA.

As a result of these new revisions, the FHFA is postponing the original February 1, 2020 deadline for the implementation of the redesigned URLA and instead plans to assess how the changes will affect the implementation timeline and provide a new implementation date soon.

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