Our team looks for pragmatic solutions to the complex compliance challenges impacting financial service providers in all areas of consumer lending—mortgage, auto, student, and peer-to-peer. We advise originators, servicers, other service providers, and secondary market participants on the applicability and interplay of federal and state laws—and are there to defend them if things go astray.
In today’s financial services world, staying in compliance with the ever-expanding web of mortgage and consumer lending regulations is a daunting challenge. Alston & Bird’s Consumer Financial Services team is a preeminent group of lawyers who are focused on the regulation of consumer credit and real estate, with a broad emphasis on origination, servicing and secondary mortgage market transactions.
Every day, this team addresses the mortgage and consumer lending compliance challenges of major Wall Street financial institutions, federal- and state-chartered depository institutions, hedge funds, private equity funds, national mortgage lenders, brokers and servicers, mortgage insurers, governmental agencies, due diligence companies, vendors, ancillary service providers, and others.
Examples of our comprehensive approach and practical experience in regulatory and compliance matters include the following:
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, Consumer Protection Act and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulations
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and Regulation X
Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA) and Regulation Z
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), including the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) and Regulation V
Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) and Regulation Z (Section 32)
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and Regulation B
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, federal regulations and state privacy laws
Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) and Regulation C
FHA, VA and GSE rules and regulations
Homeowners Protection Act
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and state corollaries
Federal and state fair debt collection practices laws
State and local anti-predatory lending laws
Appraisals and alternate valuation products (broker price opinions (BPOs) and automated valuation products (AVMs))
National flood insurance
State licensing, registration and notification statutes, including Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) and Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (SAFE)
State doing-business statutes
Unfair and deceptive trade practices laws and various other consumer protection laws
Appraisals and Alternate Valuation Products We assist appraisal management companies (AMCs), appraisal firms, mortgage lenders and servicers, as well as AVM and BPO providers, with compliance issues and enforcement responses that arise in connection with appraisal and valuation matters, including licensing, compliance with Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines, TILA appraisal independent requirements (including customary and reasonable fees), and state appraisal, real estate broker and AMC laws.
Consumer Credit Products Our consumer credit product experience includes nearly every type of consumer credit product in the market today, including mortgage loans (forward and reverse), student loans, auto dealer paper, credit cards, installment loans, payday loans, boat/yacht loans and money transmission, check cashing and other licensed financial services.
FHA, VA and GSEs We have a wide breadth of experience helping clients navigate FHA and VA lending programs, including obtaining all levels of approval. We have routinely represented clients before HUD and the various other federal agencies with respect to mortgagee approvals, examinations and various other issues. Additionally, we frequently work with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-approved sellers and/or servicers and Ginnie Mae issuers to both help them obtain the approvals and to help navigate the regulatory obstacles in the GSE space.
Licensing Issues Our lawyers are supported by a veteran team of industry licensing professionals who obtain and maintain state licenses for a number of players in the financial services arena, including mortgage originators, purchasers of loans, loan servicers, student lenders and payday lenders. Our licensing experience includes obtaining de novo licenses for various financial services participants, as well as advising and licensing entities that purchase companies through stock or asset acquisitions.
Loan-Level Due Diligence Alston & Bird’s regulatory and compliance lawyers also routinely counsel the nation’s leading due diligence companies on the valuation of whole loans and various other financial products secured by real estate.
Originations We advise clients on all aspects of origination compliance for unsecured, personal property secured and first and subordinate lien forward and reverse residential mortgage loans, including applicable federal and state disclosure, marketing, affiliated business arrangement, loan originator compensation, branch arrangements, wholesale lending, usury and fee requirements.
Preemption We also possess experience in the legal issues governing federal and state bank regulations, including rate exportation issues, first mortgage preemption, alternative mortgage transactions and agency powers and procedures regarding professional liability claims. Furthermore, we have been instrumental in obtaining favorable opinions from federal bank regulators preempting state banking and consumer laws. Notable favorable preemption opinions include New York escrow accounts, anti-pass-through taxes, hazard insurance, loan-related fees and escrow account provisions of the California Unfair Trade Practices Statute.
Servicing and Debt Collection We advise mortgage servicers on federal, state and local law and industry requirements resulting from the Dodd-Frank Act, the creation of the CFPB and the enactment of the National Servicing Standards concerning fees, disclosures, loss mitigation, other substantive restrictions and the interplay with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and bankruptcy laws
Full Service Firm Capabilities
Our practice is aligned closely with the full interdisciplinary resources of Alston & Bird, including attorneys with experience in legislative and regulatory affairs, litigation, M&A, privacy and data security and secondary market transactions.
Legislative and Regulatory Affairs We prepare and submit comment letters and draft legislative proposals for clients and work with policymakers to implement legislative and regulatory changes. We recognize opportunities to educate regulators on business practices and the need for coordinated regulatory oversight to advocate for issues impacting the lending industry. We collaborate with our preeminent Legislative & Public Policy Group to provide sophisticated legislative and regulatory strategy advice.
Litigation We represent leading banks, financial institutions, CMBS special servicers and investment funds and advisers in a cross-section of high stakes litigation, from consumer finance to the capital markets.
Mergers and Acquisitions We have counseled numerous entities in the industry on various mergers and acquisitions, helping to structure the transactions and ensuring that all regulatory hurdles are cleared.
Privacy We advise the financial services industry in all aspects of federal and state privacy and data security laws with the support of our Privacy and Data Security Group.
Secondary Market Transactions We are the leading counsel to some of Wall Street’s largest secondary market players, advising them on the regulatory aspects of various transactions, including whole loan purchases and sales, securitizations, master servicing rights and agreements, subservicing rights and agreements, and warehouse lending transactions.