The Mortgage Bankers Association is asking for a tweak to Federal Housing Administration timelines for re-inspecting homes in a pending sale during natural disasters.
At the heart of the MBA's concern is the Department of Housing and Urban Development's interpretation of policy that determines when lenders can re-inspect homes.
HUD requires re-inspections to be done after the end of Federal Emergency Management Agency incident periods and if those periods are lengthy, closing delays can be excessive, according to the MBA, which noted that incident periods related to recent hurricanes in Florida and Texas have not ended yet.
While some incident periods span a matter of days, more recent ones connected with larger hurricanes have gone on for weeks and often get reopened or extended, according to the MBA.
"Because FEMA incident periods can run anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months (and often get reopened or extended), many borrowers are needlessly delayed from completing transactions, even where there is no damage to the home," said MBA President and CEO David Stevens in a letter sent to HUD Secretary Ben Carson this week.
To avoid excessive closing delays, the association is asking HUD to allow re-inspections to be done after the start date of a FEMA incident period rather than after it ends, something that is more in line with government-sponsored enterprises and the Department of Veterans Affairs policy, according to Stevens.
"We have reviewed the policies of both the GSEs and the VA, and it appears that only HUD ties its re-inspection requirement to the end date of the FEMA incident period," Stevens said. "This is an area where we believe HUD alignment with GSE standards would seem to make common sense."
Freddie Mac's policy for Harvey and Irma calls for lenders to re-inspect as soon as possible to the extent that it is feasible and the lender can mitigate enough risk, said Lisa Tibbitts, a spokeswoman for Freddie Mac.
Stevens is a former FHA commissioner.