U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL April 18, 2013 MEMORANDUM NO: 2013-LA-1802 Memorandum TO: Charles S. Coulter Deputy Assistant Secretary for Single Family Housing, HU Dane M. Narode Associate General Counsel for Program Enforcement, CACC FROM: Tanya E. Schulze Regional Inspector General for Audit, Los Angeles Region, 9DGA SUBJECT: Pulte Mortgage LLC, Englewood, CO, Allowed the Recording of Prohibited Restrictive Covenants INTRODUCTION The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General (OIG), conducted a limited review of loans underwritten by Pulte Mortgage LLC. 1 We selected the lender based on the results of an auditability survey, which determined that Pulte Mortgage allowed prohibited restrictive covenants to be filed against Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured properties. The objective of our review was to determine the extent to which Pulte Mortgage failed to prevent the recording of prohibited restrictive covenants with potential liens in connection with FHA-insured loans closed between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2011. HUD Handbook 2000.06, REV-4, provides specific timeframes for management decisions on recommended corrective actions. For each recommendation without a management decision, please respond and provide status reports in accordance with the HUD Handbook. Please furnish us copies of any correspondence or directives issued because of the review. 1 FHA identification number 05369 Office of Audit (Region 9) 611 West Sixth Street, Suite 1160, Los Angeles, CA 90017 Phone (213) 894-8016, Fax (213) 894-8115 Visit the Office of Inspector General Web site at www.hudoig.gov. The Inspector General Act, Title 5 United States Code, section 8L, requires that OIG post its publicly available reports on the OIG Web site. Accordingly, this report will be posted at http://www.hudoig.gov. METHODOLOGY AND SCOPE We reviewed 332 2 loans underwritten by Pulte Mortgage with closing dates between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2011. We conducted the audit work from the HUD OIG Phoenix, AZ, Office of Audit between June 2012 and January 2013. To accomplish our objective, we • Reviewed prior HUD OIG audit reports with findings that included lenders allowing prohibited restrictive covenants; 3 • Reviewed relevant FHA requirements set forth in 24 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 203 and HUD Handbooks 4000.2 and 4155.2; • Reviewed a HUD OIG legal opinion pertaining to restrictive covenants; • Reviewed a HUD management decision discussing prohibited restrictive covenants; • Reviewed prior reviews conducted by the HUD Quality Assurance Division; • Discussed the prohibited restrictive covenants with Pulte Mortgage officials; and • Obtained and reviewed FHA loan data downloaded from HUD’s Single Family Data Warehouse 4 and Neighborhood Watch systems. 5 We analyzed the Single Family Data Warehouse data as of May 31, 2012, and separated the data into two categories: (1) loans that had gone into claim status and (2) loans that were still active. We selected a 100 percent review of the claim loans, 260 loans total, and elected to review a highly stratified attribute statistical sample of the 9,730 active loans. The stratified sample of the 72 loan samples was randomly selected and weighted by means of a computer program in SAS® using a seed value of 7. To meet the audit objective, we also • Requested and received copies of the lender’s FHA lender files for the loans selected for review; • Attempted to contact some borrowers for loans on which HUD paid a claim and interviewed a borrower; 2 260 claim loans and 72 statistically selected active loans 3 Audit report numbers 2009-LA-1018, 2010-LA-1009, and 2011-LA-1017 4 HUD’s Single Family Data Warehouse is a collection of database tables structured to provide HUD users easy and efficient access to single-family housing case-level data on properties and associated loans, insurance, claims, defaults, and demographics. 5 Neighborhood Watch is a Web-based software application that displays loan performance data for lenders and appraisers by loan types and geographic areas, using FHA-insured single-family loan information. 2 • Conducted Internet research, identified and queried applicable county recorder offices, and searched Accurint 6 to obtain and review recorded documents related to the sampled FHA-insured mortgages; and • Compiled and summarized the loan data with corresponding prohibited restrictive covenants. For the audit sample, the percentage and number of loans with unallowable restrictive covenants were computed based on the weighted sampling results and extended to the population using the “surveyfreq” procedure provided by SAS®. We used a 15-strata sample design to control for potential bias that might arise from varying rates of price escalation and varying resale demand based on population density. Of the selected samples, 11 had disallowed covenants, which projects to 15.78 percent, or 1,535 loans. To account for the statistical margin of error, we subtracted the standard error (3.754) times a t-score of 1.67. As a result, we can be 95 percent confident that at least 925 of the 9,730 loans had similar problems with unallowable restrictive covenants. We relied in part on and used HUD computer-processed data to select the claim and active loans reviewed for prohibited restrictive covenants. Although we did not perform a detailed assessment of the reliability of data, we performed a minimal level of testing and determined that the data were sufficiently reliable for our purposes. We conducted our work in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards, except that we did not consider the internal controls or information systems controls of Pulte Mortgage. We did not follow standards in these areas because our objective was to identify the extent to which Pulte Mortgage allowed prohibited restrictive covenants and how that affected the FHA single-family insurance program risk. To meet our objective, it was not necessary to fully comply with the standards, nor did our approach negatively affect our review results. BACKGROUND Pulte Mortgage is a nonsupervised direct endorsement lender 7 headquartered in Englewood, CO. It received this FHA mortgage insurance program status in 1983. Its affiliated builders, Pulte Homes and Del Webb, were sellers of the properties discussed in this review memorandum. FHA, created by Congress in 1934, is the largest mortgage insurer in the world aimed at helping low- and moderate-income families become homeowners by lowering some of the costs of their mortgage loans. It is also the only government agency that operates entirely from its self- generated income from mortgage insurance paid by homeowners and costs the taxpayers 6 Accurint LE Plus accesses databases built from public records, commercial data sets, and data provided by various government agencies. 7 A nonsupervised lender is a HUD-FHA-approved lending institution that has as its principal activity the lending or investment of funds in real estate mortgages and is not a supervised lender, a loan correspondent, a governmental institution, a government-sponsored enterprise, or a public or State housing agency and has not applied for approval for the limited purpose of being an investment lender. 3 nothing. FHA mortgage insurance encourages lenders to approve mortgages for otherwise creditworthy borrowers that might not be able to meet conventional underwriting requirements by protecting the lender against default. However, according to HUD-FHA requirements, the lender has the responsibility at loan closing to ensure that any conditions of title to the property are acceptable to FHA and that the mortgaged property will be free and clear of all liens other than the mortgage. Lenders are responsible for complying with all applicable HUD regulations and in turn are protected against default by FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund, which is sustained by borrower premiums. In the event of homeowner default, the FHA fund pays claims to participating lenders. To this end, lenders have a responsibility to ensure that the FHA fund is protected by approving only those loans that meet all eligibility requirements. The FHA fund capital reserve ratio has a congressional mandate of 2 percent. However, based on the 2012 annual report to Congress on the FHA fund, 8 its capital reserve ratio had fallen below zero to a negative 1.44 percent. A U.S. Government Accountability Office report on the FHA fund stated, “If the [capital] reserve account were to be depleted, FHA would need to draw on permanent and indefinite budget authority to cover additional increases in estimated credit subsidy costs.” 9 Therefore, the FHA fund would no longer run on only self-generated income. We reviewed a legal opinion 10 from OIG’s Office of Legal Counsel regarding the seller’s restriction on conveyance of FHA properties. Counsel opined that the recorded agreements between the seller and borrowers would constitute a violation of HUD statutes, regulations, or handbook requirements. In its opinion, the Office of Legal Counsel specifically stated that 24 CFR 203.41(b), pertaining to consent by a third party, appears to violate HUD’s regulations. In this case, the seller is considered a third party. Additionally, we obtained a HUD management decision on the recommendations of a prior OIG audit 11 not related to Pulte Mortgage. In the decision, HUD agreed that the execution of prohibited restrictive covenants is a violation of Federal regulations and FHA requirements and considered the violation a serious deficiency, stating that loans with prohibited restrictive covenants are ineligible for FHA insurance. RESULTS OF REVIEW Pulte Mortgage did not follow HUD requirements regarding free assumability and liens when it underwrote loans that had executed and recorded agreements between Pulte Homes and the FHA borrower, containing prohibited restrictive covenants and liens in connection with FHA-insured properties. This noncompliance occurred because Pulte Mortgage did not exercise due diligence and was unaware that the restrictive covenants recorded between the sellers and the borrowers violated HUD-FHA requirements. As a result, we found 1,106 FHA-insured loans (181 claim 8 Annual Report to Congress, Fiscal Year 2012 Financial Status, FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund 9 U.S. Government Accountability Office testimony, GAO-12-578T, Mortgage Financing, FHA and Ginnie Mae Face Risk-Management Challenges, issued March 29, 2012 10 The legal opinion was previously obtained during the review of a separate lender (2011-LA-1017) for a similar restriction contained in the FHA purchase agreement. 11 Audit report 2011-LA-1017 4 loans and 925 active loans) with a corresponding prohibited restrictive covenant with a potential lien recorded with the applicable county recording office, and Pulte Mortgage placed the FHA fund at unnecessary risk for potential losses. Claim Loan Review Results We identified and reviewed all 260 claim loans underwritten by Pulte Mortgage, 12 limited to loans closed between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2011. In our review of the applicable county recorders’ documents, we identified unallowable restrictive covenants corresponding to 181 of the 260 claim loans with properties in Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada. Of the 181 loans, 82 resulted in actual losses 13 to HUD totaling more than $9.9 million (see appendix C, table 1), and 99 resulted in claims paid totaling more than $11.8 million, but the properties had not been sold by HUD (see appendix C, table 2). Active Loan Sample Results Additionally, we completed a random attribute statistical sample and selected 72 of 9,730 active loans within our audit period. In our review of the applicable county recorders’ documents of the sampled active FHA loans, we identified an unallowable restrictive covenant corresponding to 11 of the 72 sampled active loans with properties in Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada. The 11 loans were active with an unpaid principal balance of more than $2.3 million (see appendix C, table 3). Based on a highly stratified sample, designed to minimize error and accommodate varying rates of price escalation and varying demand based on population density, 15.78 percent of the 72 weighted loan samples contained restrictive covenants, which are not allowed by HUD rules. Therefore, we can be 95 percent confident that at least 925 of the 9,730 active loans in our audit period had similar problems with unallowable restrictive covenants (see Scope and Methodology). Restriction on Conveyance For each FHA loan, the lender certifies on the Direct Endorsement Approval for HUD/FHA- Insured Mortgage (form HUD-92900-A) that the mortgage was eligible for HUD mortgage insurance under the direct endorsement program (see lender certification excerpts below). 12 Based on HUD’s Single Family Data Warehouse as of May 31, 2012 13 The actual loss is the calculated amount of loss resulting from the sale of a HUD property. The loss is calculated based on the sales price - [acquisition cost + capital income/expense (rent, repair costs, taxes, sales expenses, and other expenses)]. 5 The FHA insurance requirements, set forth in 24 CFR 203.41(b), state that to be eligible for insurance, the property must not be subject to legal restrictions on conveyance. Further, 24 CFR 203.41(a)(3) defines legal restrictions on conveyance as “any provision in any legal instrument, law or regulation applicable to the mortgagor or the mortgaged property, including but not limited to a lease, deed, sales contract, declaration of covenants, declaration of condominium, option, right of first refusal, will, or trust agreement, that attempts to cause a conveyance (including a lease) made by the mortgagor to: (i) Be void or voidable by a third party; (ii) Be the basis of contractual liability of the mortgagor for breach of an agreement not to convey, including rights of first refusal, pre-emptive rights or options related to mortgagor efforts to convey; (iii) Terminate or subject to termination all or a part of the interest held by the mortgagor in the mortgaged property if a conveyance is attempted; (iv) Be subject to the consent of a third party; (v) Be subject to limits on the amount of sales proceeds retainable by the seller; or (vi) Be grounds for acceleration of the insured mortgage or increase in the interest rate.” Additionally, 24 CFR 203.32 states that a “mortgagor must establish that, after the mortgage offered for insurance has been recorded, the mortgaged property will be free and clear of all liens other than such mortgage, and that there will not be outstanding any other unpaid obligations contracted in connection with the mortgage transaction or the purchase of the mortgaged property, except obligations that are secured by property or collateral owned by the mortgagor independently of the mortgaged property.” 14 Finally and of most significance, HUD Handbooks 4000.2, paragraph 5-1(B), and 4155.2, paragraph 6.A.1.h, both state that it is the lender’s responsibility at loan closing to ensure that any conditions of title to the property are acceptable to FHA. In essence, it is the duty of the lender to ensure that FHA loans approved for mortgage insurance are eligible and acceptable according to FHA rules and regulations. The restrictive covenants identified placed a prohibited restriction on the conveyance by a third party of the FHA properties, conflicting with the lender’s certification that the loans met HUD-FHA insurance requirements defined in 24 CFR 203.41(a)(3). It is also noteworthy that HUD Handbook 4155.1, paragraph 4.B.2.b, states, “FHA security instruments require a borrower to establish bona fide occupancy in a home as the borrower’s principal residence within 60 days of signing the security instrument, with continued occupancy for at least one year.” However, these security instruments would be between the lender and borrower, not a third party like the seller. Extra emphasis must be placed on the fact that the conveyance of the property during the occupancy period was limited by the seller, which 14 The CFR includes exceptions; however, the exceptions do not apply in this case. 6 violated HUD-FHA requirements 24 CFR 203.41(b) defined at 24 CFR 203.41(a)(3)(ii) and 203.41(a)(3)(iv). The following are excerpts from multiple versions of the recorded restrictive covenants found between the seller, a third party to the FHA loans, and borrowers. Version 1 Version 2 Version 3 Version 4 7 Version 5 Version 6 The above examples illustrate the language contained in the restrictive covenants identified; specifically, that the property cannot be conveyed without limitations imposed by the seller until the occupancy period is over, which is contrary to the HUD-FHA free assumability requirements defined in 24 CFR 203.41(a)(3)(ii) and 203.41(a)(3)(iv), respectively. A distinction to be made is that the restrictive covenants, while ineligible, do not necessarily prevent FHA from obtaining clear title in the event of foreclosure and conveyance. This distinction does not, however, alter the material fact that the loans should not have reached the point of foreclosure and conveyance as they were not eligible for FHA mortgage insurance. We also identified potential lien language, which stipulated monetary damages to the seller in the event of a breach in the agreement (see versions 1-3 above). A breach of the contract would include the borrower’s conveying or transferring the property during the specified occupancy period, which is contrary to 24 CFR 203.32. Pulte Mortgage officials stated the prohibited restrictive covenants were allowed because they believed that the documents with the restrictive covenants, which contain an owner occupancy requirement, were consistent with FHA requirements. Therefore, they allowed the use of sellers’ restrictive covenants on FHA properties. Based on this information, we concluded that Pulte Mortgage did not exercise due diligence, demonstrated by its failure to ensure that language in the recorded property agreements was appropriate and followed HUD rules and regulations. Materiality Consistent with prior HUD findings, we determined the existence of unallowable restrictive covenants to be a significant, material deficiency. In prior reviews, HUD identified unallowable restrictive covenants as a violation of Federal regulations and FHA requirements, considering the violations a material serious deficiency, stating that loans with prohibited restrictive covenants were ineligible for FHA insurance. For the active loans reviewed, HUD determined that indemnification was appropriate if the lender could not provide adequate support indicating a termination of any restrictive language. Our recommendations are made in the same regard. The FHA loans identified in this memorandum were determined to be ineligible for FHA insurance; therefore, any loss or claim tied to the loans identified represents an unnecessary loss to HUD’s FHA insurance fund. As with any underwriting review, deficiencies identified, such as overstated income and understated liabilities, do not have to be the reason an FHA loan went into default or claim for HUD to seek indemnification. Rather, the deficiencies are used as 8 evidence that the loan should not have been FHA-insured. In the same regard, the audit memorandum identifies a significant material deficiency that deemed the identified loans ineligible for FHA insurance, thereby warranting recommendations for indemnification of the loans identified. According to the FHA Emergency Fiscal Solvency Act of 2013, 15 indemnification should be an appropriate remedy when HUD has suffered a loss tied to a loan that was not originated or underwritten appropriately. It states that if the HUD Secretary determines that the mortgagee knew, or should have known, of a serious or material violation of the requirements established by the Secretary, such that the mortgage loan should not have been approved and endorsed for insurance, and HUD pays an insurance claim with respect to the mortgage, the Secretary may require the mortgagee to indemnify HUD for the loss, irrespective of whether the violation caused the mortgage default. This pending legislation illustrates Congress’ specific intent to protect the FHA mortgage insurance fund and ensure its solvency by providing HUD with the appropriate tools and remedies. Impact and Risk for Losses We identified 1,106 loans (181 claim loans and 925 active loans) within our audit period that had unallowable restrictive covenants on the FHA-insured properties. The third-party agreements, which contained the prohibited restrictive covenants preventing free assumability of the property and potential liens between the seller and borrowers, violated HUD-FHA requirements defined in 24 CFR 203.41(a)(3) and 203.32, respectively, thereby materially impacting the insurability of the questioned loans, making the loans ineligible for FHA insurance. Additionally, the borrowers in the restrictive covenant agreements were restricted in their ability to rent, lease, sell, or otherwise convey the FHA properties. By allowing the restrictive conveyance agreements on FHA properties that at minimum appeared to hinder free assumability, Pulte Mortgage may have forced borrowers with decreasing financial capability to remain in their property longer than they would have otherwise. As a result, Pulte Mortgage’s failure to exercise due diligence placed the FHA fund at unnecessary risk for potential losses by approving ineligible properties for FHA insurance and restricting borrowers’ ability to rent, lease, sell, or otherwise convey the FHA properties and included language for remedies if the contract was breached. Of most significance, insuring properties that are not eligible for mortgage insurance increases the risk to an FHA fund that is already facing dangerously low levels of funding. For the 192 loans identified, HUD would not otherwise see a loss on the uninsurable FHA loans, as they would not have been approved for FHA insurance and would not be the responsibility of the FHA fund. For the 82 claim loans identified as ineligible for FHA insurance, HUD suffered a loss it should not have otherwise suffered. 15 Pending legislation, House Resolution 1145, sponsored by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Congressman Michael E. Capuano on March 13, 2013. It was reintroduced under the 113th Congress after the 112th Congress referred it to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. 9 Conclusion Pulte Mortgage did not follow HUD requirements regarding free assumability and liens when it underwrote loans that had executed and recorded agreements between sellers and the FHA borrower, containing prohibited restrictive covenants and liens in connection with FHA-insured properties. We identified 1,106 loans (181 claim loans and 925 active loans) within our audit period that did not meet the requirements for FHA insurance, thereby rendering them ineligible for FHA insurance. Pulte Mortgage’s failure to exercise due diligence allowed prohibited restrictive covenants with the potential for liens on the FHA-insured properties, which rendered the loans uninsurable. These uninsurable loans placed the FHA fund at unnecessary risk for potential losses because HUD would not otherwise see a loss on loans not insured by the FHA fund. Of the 192 (181 claim loans and 11 sampled active loans) loans reviewed where a prohibited restrictive covenant was found, 82 resulted in an actual loss to HUD of more than $9.9 million. Another 99 of these loans had claims paid totaling more than $11.8 million. The remaining 11 loans found with prohibited restrictive covenants had a total unpaid mortgage balance of more than $2.3 million with an estimated loss to HUD of more than $1.3 million (see appendix C). RECOMMENDATIONS We recommend that HUD’s Associate General Counsel for Program Enforcement 1A. Determine legal sufficiency and if legally sufficient, pursue civil remedies (31 U.S.C. (United States Code) Sections 3801-3812, 3729, or both), civil money penalties (24 CFR 30.35), or other administrative action against Pulte Mortgage, its principals, or both for incorrectly certifying to the integrity of the data or that due diligence was exercised during the origination of FHA-insured mortgages. We recommend that HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Single Family Housing require Pulte Mortgage, after completing recommendation 1A, to 1B. Reimburse the FHA fund for the $9,909,292 in actual losses resulting from the amount of claims and associated expenses paid on 82 loans that contained prohibited restrictive covenants and liens (see appendix C, table 1). 1C. Support the eligibility of $11,865,597 in claims paid or execute an indemnification agreement requiring any unsupported amounts to be repaid for claims paid on 99 loans for which HUD has paid claims but has not sold the properties (see appendix C, table 2). 1D. Analyze all FHA loans originated, including the 11 active loans identified in this memorandum, or underwritten beginning January 1, 2008, and nullify all active restrictive covenants or execute indemnification agreements that prohibit it from submitting claims on those loans identified. The 11 active loans with prohibited 10 restrictive covenants had a total unpaid mortgage balance of $2,385,747, which carries a potential loss of $1,359,876 16 that could be put to better use (see appendix C, table 3). 1E. Follow 24 CFR 203.32 and 203.41 by excluding restrictive language and prohibited liens for all new FHA-insured loan originations and ensure that policies and procedures reflect FHA requirements. 16 The potential loss was estimated based on HUD’s 57 percent loss severity rate, multiplied by the unpaid mortgage balance. The 57 percent loss rate was the average loss on FHA-insured foreclosed-upon properties based on HUD’s Single Family Acquired Asset Management System’s “case management profit and loss by acquisition” as of December 2012. 11 Appendix A SCHEDULE OF QUESTIONED COSTS AND FUNDS TO BE PUT TO BETTER USE Recommendation Funds to be put Ineligible 1/ Unsupported 2/ number to better use 3/ 1B $9,909,292 1C $11,865,597 1D $1,359,876 Total $9,909,292 $11,865,597 $1,359,876 1/ Ineligible costs are costs charged to a HUD-financed or HUD-insured program or activity that the auditor believes are not allowable by law; contract; or Federal, State, or local policies or regulations. 2/ Unsupported costs are those costs charged to a HUD-financed or HUD-insured program or activity when we cannot determine eligibility at the time of the audit. Unsupported costs require a decision by HUD program officials. This decision, in addition to obtaining supporting documentation, might involve a legal interpretation or clarification of departmental policies and procedures. 3/ Recommendations that funds be put to better use are estimates of amounts that could be used more efficiently if an OIG recommendation is implemented. These amounts include reductions in outlays, deobligation of funds, withdrawal of interest, costs not incurred by implementing recommended improvements, avoidance of unnecessary expenditures noted in preaward reviews, and any other savings that are specifically identified. If HUD implements our recommendations to indemnify loans not originated in accordance with HUD-FHA requirements, it will reduce FHA’s risk of loss to the fund. See appendix C for a breakdown, by FHA loan number, of the funds to be put to better use. 12 Appendix B AUDITEE COMMENTS AND OIG’S EVALUATION Ref to OIG Evaluation Auditee Comments Comment 1 13 Comment 1 Comment 2 Comment 3 Comment 3 Comment 1 Comment 4 Comment 1 Comment 5 Comment 3 Comment 1 14 Comment 6 Comment 7 Comment 3 Comment 8 15 Comment 3 Comment 9 Comment 3 Comment 6 Comment 7 Comment 10 16 Comment 11 Comment 1 17 Comment 12 Comment 13 Comment 12 Comment 1 Comment 14 Comment 1 18 Comment 1 Comment 1 Comment 15 Comment 1 Comment 16 Comment 17 Comment 1 19 Comment 15 Comment 1 Comment 15 Comment 18 20 Comment 17 Comment 18 Comment 1 Comment 1 Comment 5 21 Comment 19 Comment 1 Comment 1 Comment 14 Comment 11 Comment 5 22 Comment 20 Comment 3 Comment 21 23 Comment 21 Comment 22 Comment 3 Comment 23 Comment 3 Comment 3 Comment 9 Comment 1 Comment 15 Comment 6 Comment 3 24 Comment 15 Comment 1 Comment 6 Comment 24 Comment 1 Comment 9 Comment 20 25 Comment 9 Comment 1 Comment 19 Comment 5 Comment 18 Comment 24 Comment 1 Comment 15 26 Comment 11 Comment 9 Comment 18 Comment 3 Comment 1 Comment 3 Comment 6 Comment 5 Comment 3 Comment 3 Comment 6 Comment 11 27 Comment 11 28 Comment 25 Comment 9 Comment 3 Comment 1 Comment 3 Comment 1 29 OIG Evaluation of Auditee Comments Comment 1 We disagree with Pulte Mortgage’s assessment of the OIG review. Specifically, we disagree with Pulte Mortgage’s interpretation of FHA requirements. These assessments include: • The prohibited restrictive covenants tracked FHA’s own underwriting requirements by discouraging “flippers” from fraudulently misrepresenting their occupancy intentions and did so in a manner entirely consistent with FHA guidelines; • The prohibited restrictive covenants were consistent with and did not violate FHA regulations; and • The restrictive covenant language contained in the agreements signed by the seller and borrower “tracks” the language in the “FHA Mortgage Form” 17 that would make it viewed as permissible or compliant with FHA regulations. To clarify, the audit memorandum findings do not take exception with the owner occupancy language. Pulte Mortgage, throughout its response, attempted to equate the prohibited owner occupancy language between the borrower and seller with FHA regulations. A violation would not have occurred had the cited agreements merely required a one year occupancy requirement. What Pulte Mortgage did not address is that the prohibited restrictive covenants identified go beyond merely requiring owner occupancy, and actually placed restrictions on the mortgage deed that violate FHA regulations. The audit memorandum discussed the agreement being between a third party to the mortgage, the seller, and the borrower as well as the agreement containing provisions for damages to the seller in the event of a breach, which violated 24 Code of Federal Regulation 204.41 and 203.32 respectively. By Pulte Mortgage’s own admission, the seller “would agree not to enforce the Provision…” The fact that the buyer must get the seller’s permission is a violation of 24 CFR 203.41(a)(3)(iv), the seller being considered a third party. Any reference in Pulte Mortgage’s response to tracking or adhering to FHA guidelines is incorrect. The regulations under 24 CFR 203.41(a)(3), for free assumability of the property, emphasize the prohibition of a restriction where the conveyance of a property be subject to the consent of a third party, in this case the seller, and that such a document cannot be the basis of contractual liability of the borrower for breach of an agreement not to convey. The findings and related examples illustrate the agreements in question are between the seller and borrower and include provisions for damages to the seller if the borrower conveys 17 The “Supplement B” contained in Pulte Mortgage’s response contained a poor copy of the “FHA Mortgage Form” and therefore was omitted from inclusion in appendix B of this audit memorandum. However, relevant excerpts were included below. 30 the property during the occupancy period, which clearly violate HUD FHA requirements. The violations make each identified loan ineligible for FHA mortgage insurance. A significant, material distinction exists; the “FHA Mortgage Form” cited by Pulte Mortgage is the mortgage note between the lender and borrower, whereas the prohibited restrictive covenant discussed in the audit memorandum is between the seller, a third party to the mortgage, and the borrower. Additionally, the “FHA Mortgage Form” cited does not contain language that creates a basis of additional contractual liability of the borrower for breach of the agreement not to convey, see excerpt of Section 5 below. Start of “FHA Mortgage Form” – Between Borrower and Lender Section 5 of “FHA Mortgage Form” 31 We would like to clarify that the “FHA Mortgage Form” section 9, “Grounds for Acceleration of Debt” paragraph (a) are limited by regulations issued by the Secretary and paragraph (b) is subject to applicable law and with prior approval of the Secretary. In both these instances the “FHA Mortgage Form” discusses acceleration of debt at the approval of the Secretary rather than the creation of an additional liability to the seller that is found in the restrictive covenants recorded with applicable counties. Section 9(a) of “FHA Mortgage Form” Section 9(b) of “FHA Mortgage Form” Comment 2 To clarify, the audit memorandum does not, at any point, state that prohibited restrictive covenants were put in place for “pernicious reasons.” Rather, the memorandum reports on OIG’s findings, based on specific audit objectives, that violations did in fact occur. Comment 3 We strongly disagree with Pulte Mortgage’s assertion that the OIG memorandum serves to threaten tens of millions of dollars in indemnity claims, solely because Pulte Mortgage provided mortgages to these homeowners. We also disagree with Pulte Mortgage that the OIG’s recommendations to FHA for reimbursement and indemnification and a referral to HUD Office of Enforcement are completely without merit. The basis for indemnification is in the OIG determination, consistent with HUD’s prior findings, that prohibited restrictive covenants are a material, statute violation. Losses tied to loans that should not have been FHA- insured should appropriately be reimbursed to the FHA mortgage insurance fund or indemnified. The OIG recommendations are addressed to HUD for appropriate action, fulfilling a public obligation to ensure HUD funds are safeguarded and spent appropriately. See also comment 1. 32 The recorded prohibited restrictive covenants impacted the insurability of the reviewed loans. Pulte Mortgage had a duty to ensure loans it approved for FHA insurance were in accordance with all FHA rules and regulations. The FHA loans identified were determined to be ineligible for FHA insurance; therefore, any loss or claim tied to the loan presents an unnecessary loss to HUD’s FHA insurance fund. As with any underwriting review, deficiencies identified, such as overstated income and understated liabilities, do not have to be the reason an FHA loan went into default or claim for HUD to seek indemnification. Rather, the deficiencies are used as evidence that the FHA loan should not have been FHA-insured. In the same regard, the audit memorandum identifies a significant material deficiency that deemed the identified loans ineligible for FHA insurance; thereby warranting recommendations for indemnification of the loans identified. As outlined in the audit memorandum, we specifically addressed the materiality of the findings. The OIG takes all potential and appropriate corrective actions into account when developing audit recommendations and those recommendations are addressed to HUD, not Pulte Mortgage, for corrective action. For clarification, recommendation 1A recommends HUD’s Associate General Counsel for Program Enforcement to determine legal sufficiency for civil action. It is OIG’s responsibility to refer violations that may rise to the level that may warrant civil action to the HUD’s Office of Program Enforcement for its consideration. It is that office’s responsibility to evaluate the violations and determine what, if any, civil action is warranted. Treble damages are not stated anywhere in the recommendation or audit memorandum. Pulte Mortgage’s assertion that neither the homebuyers nor the FHA insurance fund was harmed is incorrect. The prohibited restrictive covenants all carried the potential to harm FHA buyers. The scope of our audit was narrow and specific, to identify the presence of unallowable restrictive covenants and to determine if those restrictions violated HUD rules and regulations. To that end, we concluded that there were prohibited restrictive covenants, which violated Federal statute and were not eligible for FHA insurance; therefore, any loss or claim tied to the loans identified represents an unnecessary loss to HUD’s FHA insurance fund. Based on our conclusions, it was our duty and obligation to HUD and other stakeholders, including the American public, to recommend HUD take necessary, appropriate action. In HUD’s prior actions, it also deemed the deficiency significant enough to warrant indemnification. We believe the recommendations contained in the audit memorandum are fair, consistent, and appropriate given the materiality of the OIG finding. Therefore, the recommendations remain unchanged. Comment 4 Pulte Mortgage’s statement that the audit memorandum’s interpretation of FHA regulations is so inappropriately aggressive that FHA’s own documents would violate the OIG’s reading of its terms, is incorrect and without merit. We 33 identified a specific situation, compared the restrictive language found to FHA regulations, and determined the recorded agreements violated HUD FHA regulations. HUD’s Office of Single Family Housing has made a similar determination in similar situations. See comments 1 and 15 for detailed explanations. Comment 5 Pulte Mortgage is incorrect in assuming that restrictive covenant agreements were acceptable because FHA conducted post-endorsement reviews. Such assumptions are dangerous and should never be a substitute for reviewing and applying the actual FHA regulations. These reviews were not necessarily all inclusive in scope and may not have included methodology to search public records for documents recorded in conjunction with the FHA-insured loans. Comment 6 To clarify, the audit memorandum does not state that Pulte Mortgage “acted knowingly or with reckless disregard resulting in a false, fraudulent, or fictitious claim to FHA” as implied by the Pulte Mortgage’s response. See also comment 2. Comment 7 Pulte Mortgage stated that no further actions are needed because the provision term in the prohibited agreements has expired for these loans and is no longer offering loans with the prohibited restrictive covenants. We acknowledge Pulte Mortgage’s efforts to address the audit memorandum findings. HUD will review the adequacy of Pulte Mortgage’s corrective actions and analysis during the audit resolution process to determine if it was sufficient to satisfy the audit recommendations. The findings cited restrictive covenants with an occupancy period of twelve months; however, there is a possibility that longer occupancy periods related to other loans exist. Although the loans in question have an expired agreement, the presence of the restrictive covenant should have prevented them from reaching the point of receiving FHA mortgage insurance. Recommendations 1B, 1C, 1D, and 1E of the audit memorandum first seek reimbursement for the ineligible loans with an actual known loss, support or indemnification for those with claims but no known loss, to nullify active loans with such restrictions or indemnify said loans, and finally to follow 24 CFR 203.32 and 203.41 by excluding restrictive language and prohibited liens for all new FHA-insured loan originations and ensure that policies and procedures reflect FHA requirements. See also comment 3. Comment 8 To clarify we reviewed public records for 332 loans (260 claim loans and 72 statistically sampled active loans) and found that, of these, 192 (181 claim loans and 11 statistically sampled active loans) had unallowable restrictive covenants. The 11 statistically sampled active loans were projected to the universe of active loans (see Methodology and Scope section of the audit memorandum), resulting in an estimated 925 active loans with similar issues. Therefore, we reported that there were 1,106 loans (181 claim loans and 925 active loans) with unallowable restrictive covenants. 34 Comment 9 We disagree with Pulte Mortgage that it is unreasonable to expect that it would treat these as a violation of FHA requirements because of the unclear nature of the regulations in question and FHA’s own documents. FHA regulations at 24 CFR 203.41 and 203.32 specifically prohibit restrictive covenants as identified in the audit memorandum. Additionally, HUD has previously determined that prohibited restrictive covenants were serious, material deficiencies that deemed FHA loans ineligible for mortgage insurance. Whether intentional or not, Pulte Mortgage, as the underwriter, is responsible for ensuring the loan and its title instruments meet all HUD rules and regulations. As stated in the audit memorandum, HUD Handbooks 4000.2, paragraph 5-1(B), and 4155.2, paragraph 6.A.1.h, both state that it is the lender’s responsibility at loan closing to ensure that any conditions of title to the property are acceptable to FHA. In essence, it is the duty of the lender to ensure that FHA loans approved for mortgage insurance are eligible and acceptable according to FHA rules and regulations. We also disagree that the requirements were unclear and that the FHA documents were consistent with the agreements between the seller and borrower, see comment 1. Comment 10 Pulte Mortgage’s conclusion that, because there is no evidence that the builder/seller actually exercised its right under the agreement, therefore, no remediation is necessary is not material to the issues identified in the audit memorandum because violating 24 CFR 203.41 and 302.32 rendered the loans ineligible for FHA insurance. To that end, the recommendations specifically address the deficiencies identified, utilizing appropriate remedial options available to HUD and OIG. See also comment 3. Comment 11 OIG acknowledges Pulte Mortgage’s explanation of intent and history. However, this does not lift the burden from Pulte Mortgage to ensure all FHA loans approved for FHA mortgage insurance adhere to all FHA regulations. See also comment 1. Comment 12 During the audit, the OIG auditors determined the restrictive covenants were in violation of HUD FHA regulations. The internal legal opinion cited by Pulte Mortgage was used only as additional support that restrictive covenants are unallowable and violate FHA rules and regulations. The legal opinion was obtained and reviewed after we conducted our own analysis and came to our own conclusion that HUD requirements were violated by the execution and recording of the restrictive covenants. Comment 13 We agree with Pulte Mortgage; the audit memorandum has been revised to reflect the citation as 24 CFR 203.41(b). Comment 14 We disagree with Pulte Mortgage’s statement that the cause included in the audit memorandum was quite a different assertion than that initially offered by the OIG in its draft finding outline. The cause included in the finding outline provided to Pulte Mortgage stated, “This occurred because Pulte Mortgage officials believed that the documents with the restrictive covenants, which contain an owner 35 occupancy requirement, were consistent with FHA requirements and would in- turn help protect FHA from fraud.” However, we simplified the cause in the audit memorandum to state, in part that Pulte Mortgage “was unaware that the restrictive covenants recorded between the sellers and the borrowers violated FHA requirements.” Additionally, Pulte Mortgage commented in its response that our statement that Pulte Mortgage was “unaware” that the restrictive covenants were a violation was a mischaracterization. A Pulte Mortgage official clarified that in its opinion it was reasonable to believe that the provisions were permissible under 24 CFR 203.41 and it offered the loans for insurance in good faith. As a result, we have revised the audit memorandum “Restriction on Conveyance” section to incorporate more of the original language from the finding outline and the clarification provided by a Pulte Mortgage official. Pulte Mortgage was notified that the finding outline was a working document and the draft form was presented as a courtesy to enhance open communication and keep Pulte Mortgage informed of the OIG’s progress and tentative conclusions in advance of the draft audit memorandum. The “Supplement A” contained in Pulte Mortgage’s response contained a copy of a working document that was not intended for an external audience and therefore has been omitted from inclusion in appendix B of this audit memorandum. Comment 15 Pulte Mortgage’s logic is flawed and does not appear to understand or make the distinction that the prohibited agreements in question are between the borrower and seller, a third party, and not between the borrower and lender. It is incorrect and inappropriate for Pulte Mortgage to compare two clearly different agreements. See also comment 1. Comment 16 Pulte Mortgage did not appropriately apply the FHA regulations. The exceptions at 24 CFR 203.512, as discussed in its response, do not apply. Comment 17 Pulte Mortgage presented hypothetical scenarios that are not relevant to the facts of OIG’s findings. The audit memorandum presented specific instances that violated FHA regulations, as determined separately by HUD and OIG. See also comments 1 and 15. We disagree with the Pulte Mortgage’s statement that the restrictive covenants did not create an actual or potential lien. Examples of the prohibited restrictive language included in the agreements in question were included in the body of the audit memorandum. Merriam-Webster dictionary describes a lien as follows: “In law, a charge or encumbrance on property for the satisfaction of a debt or other duty. Common law developed two kinds of possessory lien: the specific (a lien on the specific property involved in a transaction) and the 36 general (a lien for the satisfaction of a balance due, not confined to a specific property involved in a transaction)…” Therefore, one could reasonably conclude from the prohibited restrictive covenant language of the buyer owing damages to the seller in the event of a breach or the seller’s right to repurchase as a lien, which violated 24 CFR 203.32. We do not disagree with the Pulte Mortgage’s assertion that typically a lien gives the right to the creditor to foreclose and take possession of the property in question if the debt is not satisfied; however, by definition that it is not required. Therefore, the discussion of potential liens will remain in the audit memorandum. Comment 19 The intention behind 24 CFR 203.41(b) is not in question. The audit scope focused solely on Pulte Mortgage and its practices and was not an internal review of HUD and its regulations and policy decisions. The prohibited restrictive covenants identified violated FHA regulations, thereby rendering them ineligible for FHA insurance. To that end, the intention behind the regulations do not change that what occurred did not meet the stated requirements for insurance. See also comments 1 and 3. Comment 20 We acknowledge Pulte Mortgage’s efforts to take corrective actions and adhere to FHA rules and regulations. Any actions taken should be directed to HUD during the audit resolution process, including providing supporting documentation. See also comment 7. Comment 21 We agree with Pulte Mortgage and acknowledge that the FHA Reform Act of 2010 was never finalized. However, this legislation has been updated and was reintroduced to the U.S. House of Representatives and is now known as the “FHA Emergency Fiscal Solvency Act of 2013.” This legislation clearly indicates the U.S. Congress’ specific intent to protect and ensure the fiscal solvency of the FHA mortgage insurance fund. The audit memorandum has been updated accordingly and reflects the new, updated pending legislation. As a result, there was no need to include Pulte Mortgage’s “Supplement C” in appendix B of the audit memorandum, which contained the progress of the FHA Reform Act of 2010. Comment 22 We disagree with Pulte Mortgage’s statement that the OIG’s position is that any technical breach may serve as a basis for indemnification. The OIG reviews each situation independently and makes determinations on specific facts and merits. In this specific circumstance, the conditions for free assumability of the loan, as well as no additional liens outside the mortgage (with some exceptions noted in the CFR), were required to be met for the loan to be eligible for FHA mortgage insurance. We disagree that indemnification should only be utilized for traditional underwriting deficiencies (overstated income, understated liabilities, etc.). This interpretation opens a wide door for violations other than your typical underwriting deficiencies and sets a bad precedent to violating lenders. Therefore, in OIG’s assessment, indemnification is an appropriate remedy in these instances 37 because it provides the remedy of alleviating any loss or potential loss on the loans from impacting the FHA mortgage insurance fund, as would be the case if the loans were not insured. Ultimately, the recommendations are directed to HUD for it to assessment and enter in to a management agreement during the audit resolution process with OIG on the appropriate course of action. See also comment 3. Comment 23 We acknowledge Pulte Mortgage’s admission that had it known the loans in question were in violation of FHA regulations it would have taken corrective actions. Unfortunately, the violations have already occurred, and need to be remedied. See also comment 9. Comment 24 We strongly disagree with Pulte Mortgage’s interpretation that the audit memorandum stated, “Pulte Mortgage falsely certified that loans with recorded Provisions that it offered for insurance were in compliance with FHA regulations.” Rather the audit memorandum states, “For each FHA loan, the lender certifies on the Direct Endorsement Approval for HUD/FHA-Insured Mortgage (form HUD-92900-A) that the mortgage was eligible for HUD mortgage insurance under the direct endorsement program.” Comment 25 We strongly disagree with Pulte Mortgage’s assertion that the audit memorandum demonstrates a failure to understand the purpose behind implementation of the prohibited agreements and the reasonability of the position that the prohibited agreements did not violate FHA regulations. Also, Pulte Mortgage’s response incorrectly attempts to explain HUD’s policy on implementing regulations and incorrectly interprets FHA regulations. Additionally, Pulte Mortgage inappropriately attempted to compare different agreements between the borrower and lender and the borrower and seller. As previously stated, the purpose behind the implementation of the restrictive covenants between the seller and borrower are irrelevant in light of the fact that ultimately the agreements violated 24 CFR 203.41 and 203.32, which rendered the loans ineligible for FHA insurance. See also comments 1, 9, and 15. 38 Appendix C SUMMARY OF FHA LOANS REVIEWED Table 1 - Actual loss to HUD Claim loan review results FHA loan Recommendation 1B – number actual loss to HUD 18 022-1927689 $ 71,373 023-2603944 146,239 023-2611680 143,523 023-2619967 105,390 023-2619996 288,390 023-2655731 80,896 023-2669181 116,573 023-2673344 105,125 023-2685324 105,459 023-2707816 129,494 023-2713580 69,467 023-2716167 92,088 023-2731482 130,236 023-2754772 110,901 023-2764894 114,485 023-2772117 118,331 023-2776246 136,992 023-2779167 84,883 023-2784325 109,780 023-2786411 76,201 023-2788697 159,438 023-2793680 56,021 023-2795810 89,038 023-2799953 174,561 023-2804376 75,844 023-2818776 133,341 023-2819969 97,437 18 The actual loss to HUD was obtained from HUD’s Single Family Data Warehouse in January 2013. 39 FHA loan Recommendation 1B – number actual loss to HUD 18 023-2820025 92,392 023-2821037 92,863 023-2823878 46,585 023-2823986 97,706 023-2830153 123,671 023-2830182 104,026 023-2838213 91,107 023-2848285 123,901 023-2851827 134,619 023-2855523 95,199 023-2858904 81,223 023-2879361 128,920 023-2880461 90,803 023-2884854 85,855 023-2886080 102,730 023-2908445 80,562 023-2933479 91,916 023-2943430 67,492 023-2985345 116,858 023-2996978 89,110 023-3014540 124,576 023-3018717 97,629 023-3039168 115,536 023-3047628 104,105 023-3180064 82,738 023-3311141 65,043 023-3617752 50,135 023-3814604 103,782 042-8042434 248,649 042-8084411 238,870 042-8516684 120,177 043-7466544 119,070 043-7525324 200,059 043-7573835 131,817 043-7621188 158,705 043-8056250 135,382 40 FHA loan Recommendation 1B – number actual loss to HUD 18 044-4321995 79,870 048-4640203 201,968 048-4842458 152,501 197-3761673 154,478 197-4087743 154,321 332-4483429 137,515 332-4575855 128,866 332-4616837 172,417 332-4656194 141,132 332-4656250 132,069 332-4658869 135,518 332-4661113 150,950 332-4661868 139,676 332-4664292 126,408 332-4666337 175,968 332-4676488 176,192 332-4707171 223,858 332-4751441 114,385 332-4814978 55,883 Total $ 9,909,292 41 Table 2 - Claims paid, loss unknown Claim loan review results FHA loan Recommendation 1C – claims paid number but no actual loss known 19 022-1916640 $ 81,755 022-1931001 75,076 022-2211768 111,328 023-2622908 74,215 023-2640369 121,060 023-2644672 133,163 023-2644689 120,447 023-2645757 104,755 023-2648333 101,088 023-2648385 110,176 023-2648697 230,330 023-2655879 90,050 023-2661687 139,912 023-2665978 123,096 023-2669826 76,752 023-2689858 116,664 023-2696193 108,419 023-2714983 114,959 023-2715908 50,784 023-2722711 113,753 023-2734131 160,272 023-2741062 105,275 023-2760699 101,583 023-2774600 103,158 023-2782528 231,783 023-2791883 98,691 023-2791940 95,971 023-2814853 163,847 023-2815474 141,753 023-2823905 62,077 023-2827580 160,797 023-2838140 132,185 19 The claims paid values were obtained from HUD’s Neighborhood Watch system in January 2013. 42 FHA loan Recommendation 1C – claims paid number but no actual loss known 19 023-2838852 53,391 023-2840150 80,894 023-2845339 144,238 023-2855779 112,981 023-2863559 87,940 023-2867176 159,626 023-2883690 114,664 023-2901742 135,712 023-2908320 78,745 023-2911870 94,981 023-2921849 104,673 023-2928252 53,339 023-2929156 70,648 023-2930472 87,070 023-2948654 144,373 023-2952108 127,160 023-2954217 106,100 023-2966402 83,424 023-2986022 136,581 023-3005512 108,400 023-3016456 76,045 023-3030123 106,730 023-3053515 91,570 023-3057631 81,538 023-3073981 64,161 023-3498004 95,981 023-3503349 70,451 023-3530032 98,071 023-3617492 117,504 023-3617979 93,973 023-3774368 74,322 042-8050561 180,298 042-8079927 170,132 042-8087657 233,413 042-8091572 129,761 042-8559877 93,586 43 FHA loan Recommendation 1C – claims paid number but no actual loss known 19 043-7447279 60,250 043-7500295 250,193 043-7523845 123,747 043-7573076 119,162 043-7577084 118,366 043-7757408 91,139 043-7805468 294,226 043-7989028 25,408 043-8084823 74,065 044-4334708 139,718 044-4346770 91,864 044-4357665 91,231 045-6707713 48,385 048-4743554 156,706 091-4315182 100,042 091-4382164 239,308 197-3785482 168,871 197-3877861 121,956 332-4529992 174,964 332-4531582 111,524 332-4550184 269,478 332-4565671 131,040 332-4586869 144,024 332-4612208 106,993 332-4641624 121,667 332-4644955 339,753 332-4666655 167,819 332-4666684 142,314 332-4708125 93,329 332-4942724 43,821 332-5008601 86,584 Total $ 11,865,597 44 Table 3 - Potential loss to HUD Active loan sample results Recommendation 1D – FHA loan Unpaid mortgage potential loss on active number balance 20 loans16 023-2612062 $ 245,959 $ 140,197 023-2848335 239,153 136,317 023-2971807 221,198 126,083 023-3439835 168,663 96,138 023-4056921 122,303 69,713 023-4113303 170,901 97,414 042-8555607 335,490 191,229 043-8367965 186,923 106,546 095-0847106 229,269 130,683 197-3785674 275,024 156,764 332-4950346 190,864 108,792 Total $ 2,385,747 $ 1,359,876 20 The unpaid mortgage balance for each loan was obtained from HUD’s Single Family Data Warehouse in January 2013. 45
Pulte Mortgage LLC, Englewood, CO, Allowed the Recording of Prohibited Restrictive Covenants
Published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General on 2013-04-18.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)