On June 5, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced several changes to streamline the state’s mortgage licensing requirements and processes, and new mortgage-related resources. The DFS also is proposing additional changes to the state’s mortgage licensing regulations.

Uniform State Test

The DFS announced that it will adopt the Uniform State Test (UST) for mortgage loan originators (MLOs) effective September 2, 2014. The UST will replace the current state-specific test for New York. Further, any MLO that passed the UST even prior to the effective date will satisfy the testing requirements for MLOs in New York starting on September 2, 2014. Adoption of the UST will not change the current educational requirements for MLOs in New York.

Transitional Licensing

Effective immediately, DFS is offering transitional licensing for MLOs currently licensed in other states and seeking licensure in New York. Specifically, individuals can now apply for a New York license prior to being employed with a New York licensed entity. This eliminates the previous delay in obtaining licensure until after one had been employed by such an entity, thus resulting in an inability to actually perform work in New York pending approval. Now, applicants can apply and have their application fully processed prior to being hired by a New York licensed entity so there is no delay in the ability to start working once hired and affiliated with the new employer.

Revised Processes and New Resources

The DFS also announced several changes to its practices and procedures, and new resources for industry participants.

  • Streamlined applications review process. The DFS has reorganized its internal workflows to eliminate excess layers of review of license applications and approvals. DFS also will now send a single letter to applicants identifying all items missing from an application package, which will reduce back-and-forth with the DFS and hopefully expedite application processing.
  • Dedicated Mailboxes to Answer Questions. The DFS has created encrypted inboxes dedicated to particular topics. This change is intended to remove the burden from licensees and applicants seeking the right person to answer a question. Instead, DFS will staff the inboxes and will find the appropriate person to answer a given question. The DFS has committed to provide responses within one business day in most cases. For mortgage bankers or mortgage banker applicants, the address is mortgage.banker@dfs.ny.gov; for mortgage brokers or applicants, the address is mortgage.broker@dfs.ny.gov; for mortgage loan servicers or applicants, the address is mls@dfs.ny.gov; and for mortgage loan originators or applicants, the address is mlo@dfs.ny.gov.
  • Electronic Submissions. TheDFS will now accept all application materials at the four email addresses listed above and will acknowledge receipt of documents. Where the DFS needs originals of certain documents, it will accept online submission first, and the original can follow by mail. DFS is also accepting materials by secure file transfer and will soon be accepting materials through a secure online portal.
  • Elimination of “Placeholder Applications.” Effective immediately, an applicant for a mortgage license may no longer file a placeholder application. Instead, when an application is filed, the DFS will review it and write a letter in response identifying any missing information. The applicant will then have 30 days to address these missing items or the application will be deemed withdrawn and the fee forfeited.
  • Dedicated Webpage. A new section of the DFS website, www.dfs.ny.gov/mortgage, will serve as a comprehensive resource center. It includes (i) information regarding new proposed regulations; (ii) step-by-step directions on how to apply for a license to become a mortgage banker, mortgage broker, mortgage loan servicer, or mortgage loan originator; (iii) information about how and when to apply for a change of control of a regulated entity, and how to apply for a new branch location, and more; and (iv) links to updated forms.
  • New Guidebooks. The DFS announced that it soon will issue comprehensive guidebooks that help companies and individuals apply for and maintain a license. Thee guidebooks will be made available on the mortgage webpage.

Additional Proposed Changes

The DFS also proposed to amend in several ways the mortgage licensing provisions of the New York Code of Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) as well as several General Supervisory Policies and Procedures.

The proposed changes would clarify the requirement that mortgage license applicants must have direct experience or several enumerated qualifications to obtain licensure. Specifically, the proposed regulations would require an applicant to demonstrate that “they are, or have in their employ, a qualifier who is a licensed mortgage loan originator” with the requisite qualifications and experience.

The proposal also would provide for situations in which an applicant may have fewer than three executive officers. Specifically, with respect to mortgage banker applications, the proposed regulations would require personal information from either three executive officers, or if there are not three such officers, two officers and the compliance officer. With respect to mortgage broker applicants that do not have three such officers, personal and financial information would be required of all executive officers.

The DFS also proposes to require applicants to submit, among other materials, business plans that outline marketing strategy, products, target markets and operating structure, as well as a compliance program summary and a fair lending plan. The regulations also would provide new treatment of incomplete applications, which under the proposal would be considered withdrawn after 30 days of failure to provide outstanding documents and information.

The proposed regulations grant the superintendent authority to require applicants to attend, via phone or in person, a meeting for conferral of licenses and to review regulatory requirements associated with holding such licenses.

Finally, the DFS proposes to repeal Part 413 of the NYCRR and Supervisory Procedure mb 106, which provide authority and establish the application process for mortgage brokers to act as FHA mortgage loan correspondents.

Comments in response to the proposed regulations are due 45 days from publication in the State Register.