How the CFPB Protects Buyers in Real Estate. Common Questions Answered.

History of the CFPB. It started with professor Elizabeth Warren, who taught and specialized in bankruptcy. Yes, the same Elizabeth Warren who became a US Senator and sought the Democratic nomination for President. She called for the creation of a new independent federal agency to focus on regulating consumer financial products targeted at American households like credit cards and mortgages to name a few.[1]   Her goal was to: move away from legal jargon, be more coherent and consumer-oriented, and have financial products reviewed under one (1) single independent agency. Her timing was just right because, in 2010, the subprime mortgage market collapsed, $10 Trillion in household wealth was wiped out, and in that aftermath Obama’s administration asked Congress to establish an agency to ensure consumer protection. [2]

So What is the CFPB?   The Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as an independent financial regulator within the Federal Reserve System.[3] It moved 18 existing federal statutes to the CFPB to administer including the Truth-In-Lending Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and vested the CFPB with potent investigative and enforcement powers including seeking restitution, disgorgement, injunctive relief, and civil penalties of up to a $1Million a day! The CFPB pursues unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices; Writes rules; Supervises companies; Enforces laws outlawing consumer finance discrimination; Gives financial education; and Monitors new risks to consumers.[4] In the past 10 years, the CFPB obtained $11 Billion in penalties ($1 Billion from Wells Fargo for charging too much for mortgage interest rate-lock extensions, and adding insurance costs and fees into auto loans).[5]

CFPB is the watchdog for: (1) Mortgage Companies; (2) Credit Reporting; (3) Personal Loans; (4) Debt Collection; (5) Credit Repair Services; (6) Personal Consumer Reports; (7) Credit Cards; (8) Pre-paid Cards; (9) Checking Accounts; (10) Savings Accounts; (11) Vehicle Loans; (12) Leases; (13) Student Loans; (14) Payday loans; (15) Title Loans; (16) Money Transfers; (17) Virtual Currency; (18) Check Cashing; (19) Currency Exchange; (20) Cashier’s/ Traveler’s checks; and (21) Debt Settlement.[6] Complaints can be filed against companies and individuals with CFPB online, and the CFPB can be called at (855) 411-CFPB (2372) for more information.

Is the CFPB a valid Agency or has it been Abolished? On June 29, 2020, the United States Supreme Court decided Seila Law, LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, putting the CFPB in the hotseat of whether it would be dismantled. The case revolved around a law firm providing debt-related legal services was issued a subpoena from the CFPB in order to investigate the firm’s business practices, the law firm refused to comply, objecting that the CFPB’s entire existence was unconstitutional as its structure violated the Separation of Powers. The Supremes agreed in part, but offered a resolution to fix the CFPB’s ill-formed structure stating,

“In organizing the CFPB, Congress deviated from the structure of nearly every other independent administrative agency in our history. Instead of placing the agency under the leadership of a board with multiple members, Congress pro­vided that the CFPB would be led by a single Director, who serves for a longer term than the President (i.e. 5 years) and cannot be removed by the President except for inefficiency, neglect, or malfeasance. The CFPB Director has no boss, peers, or voters to report to.” … “Such an agency lacks a foundation in historical practice and clashes with constitutional structure by concentrating power in a unilateral actor insulated from Presidential control. We therefore hold that the structure of the CFPB violates the separation of powers. … The agency may therefore continue to operate, but its Director, in light of our decision, must be removable by the President at will.”

Questions answered by the CFPB as it pertains to Real Estate. Remembering that the CFPB is consumer oriented, so it has a wealth of information. The following questions have been answered by the CFPB as common questions that occur in real estate transaction but unfortunately their website is not well organized by topic. I have re-organized them for easy reference as it pertains to obtaining a loan for real estate transactions:

DISCLAIMER:  Topics discussed are general concepts, not intended to constitute legal advice, accuracy, nor completeness, and may not be relied upon as such; consult an attorney or accountant.  The author Randy Gilbert, J.D. is neither an attorney nor an accountant.  FTIC is a national award winning title insurance company known for its white glove customer service and “No Junk Fee Guarantee.” ®

[1] Seila Law, LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Pg. 8

[2] Seila Law, LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Pg. 8

[3] Seila Law, LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Pg. 9

[4] The Bureau.

[5] Wells Fargo Hit With $1 Billion In Fines Over Home And Auto Loan Abuses

[6] CFPB Complaint.