Message from Division of Consumer Services Director Cindy Fazio

Consumer Services Director Cindy Fazio.

Welcome Spring!

I hope everyone is well and your businesses are thriving. It seems we are in headlong rush to a post-pandemic world. I see help wanted signs all over the place, a very welcome sign that other parts of the economy are coming back. The housing market continues to be strong and at least one economist predicts that will continue this year. "While inflationary pressure is growing, our latest forecast update suggests that in the near term interest rates will remain steady at borrower-friendly levels. In fact, despite the recent increases, mortgage rates remain near historical lows, which we expect will help maintain strong housing demand in 2021." Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae senior vice president and chief economist. Inman, Markets and Economy, April 19, 2021. What we have not seen yet is the end of the GSE (Fannie, Freddie, FHA) forbearances. Fingers crossed that folks can get back to work and transition back into regular bill paying.

At DFI, we continued to feel the housing market strength in more months of record numbers of mortgage loan originator applicants. We continue to receive healthy numbers of other business applications as well. We have also been busy on other fronts. If you have MLOs new to this important industry or MLOs who have been out of the industry for a while, please be sure they share your goals for safe and compliant products for consumers. We want happy consumers and thriving businesses.

Our agency five year mortgage re-accreditation time is here as well as Consumer Services’ first attempt at accreditation for our money services businesses (MSB) program.

If we are successful in obtaining MSB accreditation, we will be the third agency to achieve this accreditation. The CSBS Accreditation Program involves an in-depth review of our policies, procedures, and operations to determine if they meet the standards set forth by the Performance Standards Committee (PSC). The accreditation program involves a comprehensive review and verification of the critical elements that assure the ability of a state agency to discharge its responsibilities through an investigation of its administration and finances, personal policies and practices, training programs, examination policies and practices, supervisory procedures, and statutory powers.

Accreditation is important to us because it helps us standardize our processes, demonstrate our agency meets the standards for state supervision, share ideas and best practices for state regulation of financial services, and strengthens state financial regulation by meeting a shared set of principles. It also allows us to tap into knowledge and best practices that are shared across the states, which makes us better at our jobs and also leads to efficiencies and standards among the states, potentially streamlining some processes for you. Our review is the week of June 7, and we are looking forward to any feedback we receive through the process that will improve our practices when it comes to you – our licensees.

Very recently, we launched a new program to facilitate communication between DFI and entrepreneurs, start-ups, and so-called fintech companies, most using blockchain technologies and/or virtual currencies in their business models. We have a new web page site with tools for these innovative companies. The new site provides information on industry licensing and regulation; a guide for consumers; and a guidance for industry on partnerships with depository institutions.

Finally, see our Rulemaking Update for information on the rulemaking to implement SB 5077, the amendments to the acts that allow mortgage loan originators to work from home without that home being licensed as a company branch. All in all, it is business at the usual busy pace for us. Thank you for everything you do for Washington consumers and our economy. Now we just need some warm weather.