Open-End Lines of Credit Under the New HMDA Rules

I wrote previously about the new HMDA rules, and how they are changing our vocabulary a bit. The new vocabulary includes new, broader definition of what’s included in HMDA, and that’s how it’s expanding the scope of HMDA. Some loans that were previously not covered by HMDA now are covered, such as HELOCs.

Here’s a quick refresher/reference of what’s covered under the old and new rules:

  • Old HMDA: Home purchase loans, home improvement loans, and refinancings.
  • New HMDA: “Covered loans,” meaning closed-end mortgage loans and open-end lines of credit, not otherwise exempt.

Let’s look at the open-end lines of credit definition because it is a bit clunky and awkward. “Open-end lines of credit” have their own special meaning under the new HMDA rules, and the rules refer to and semi-incorporate the definition of “open-end credit” in Reg. Z (TILA).

Under HMDA, an open-end line of credit is an extension of credit that:

  1. Is secured by a lien on a dwelling, and
  2. Is an open-end credit plan as defined under Reg. Z, but without regard to whether the credit is
    1. consumer credit,
    2. extended by a creditor, or
    3. extended to a consumer.

(12 CFR § 1003.2(o))

Just looking at that definition requires some mental gymnastics, not to mention simultaneous references to two different regulations, just to determine whether or not a loan is HMDA reportable or not. So I’m going to try to combine the rules for a slightly simpler, easier to reference rule. But first, what’s an “open-end credit” plan under Reg. Z?

Under Reg. Z, “open-end credit” means consumer credit extended by a creditor under a plan which:

  1. The creditor reasonably contemplates repeated transactions;
  2. The creditor may impose finance charges on an outstanding balance; and
  3. The credit extended to the consumer during the term of the plan (up to a limit set by the creditor) is generally made available to the extent that any outstanding balance is repaid.

(12 CFR § 1026.2(a)(20).

Reg. Z and HMDA have their own distinct definitions for terms, hence the part about disregarding the Reg. Z definitions of “consumer credit,” “creditor,” and “consumer.” So HMDA, in the final part of its definition, is trying to a Reg. Z definition without all the other Reg. Z terminology as well.

Ugh…

But you can essentially substitute “consumer credit” for just “credit,” and “creditor” for “financial institution,” and “consumer” with “applicant” and plug it back into the HMDA definition for open-end line of credit.

So to put it together into one HMDA rule, for HMDA an open-end line of credit is an extension of credit that:

  1. Is secured by a lien on a dwelling, and
  2. Is credit extended by a financial institution which,
    1. The institution reasonably contemplates repeated transactions;
    2. The institution may impose finance charges on an outstanding balance; and
    3. The credit extended to the applicant during the term of the plan (up to a limit set by the creditor) is generally made available to the extent that any outstanding balance is repaid.

Some final notes: I didn’t go into the first part of the HMDA definition because it’s fairly self-explanatory, but it’s very important and distinguishes between a HMDA reportable line of credit and a non-reportable line. This goes to the new dwelling-secured standard of HMDA.

Also the last requirement for the credit being generally available during the term of the plan means the plan must have a reusable line, even if it has a termination date. (See 12 CFR § 1026.2(a)(20)—Official Interpretation 5). This means the total credit lent under the plan is theoretically unlimited for the term of the plan as long as the borrower continues to repay the credit used.

Finally, for real estate, open-end real estate mortgages must be evaluated independently under the definition regardless of what it’s called in the industry. “The fact that a particular plan is called an open-end real estate mortgage, for example, does not, by itself, mean that it is open-end credit under the regulation.” (See 12 CFR § 1026.2(a)(20)—Official Interpretation 7.) In other words, don’t be fooled by a name; just because something may be called an “open-end mortgage” doesn’t meet it necessarily meets the regulatory definition for open-end credit.

Bryan T. Noonan, Esq.
Regulatory Compliance Consultant
SPILLANE CONSULTING ASSOCIATES, INC.
501 John Mahar Highway, Suite 101
Braintree, MA  02184
781-356-2772
781-356-2837 (fax)
www.scapartnering.com

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