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Washington, D.C. – The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today announced its decision to add a preferred language question to the redesigned Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA). This question will enable borrowers who prefer to communicate in a language other than English to identify that language. It also provides clear disclosures that the mortgage transaction is likely to be conducted in English and that language resources may not be available.
The addition of this question is part of a broader, multiyear effort that FHFA is undertaking with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to improve language access for limited English proficient (LEP) borrowers in the United States. Later this year, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will publish the final redesigned URLA, which also contains updates
announced in August 2016. Lenders may begin using the redesigned URLA in July 2019, but use of the redesigned form will not be mandatory for Enterprise loans until February 2020.
"In carrying out FHFA's statutory responsibility to support access to credit, FHFA has committed to improving the ability of all mortgage-ready borrowers to understand and participate fully in the mortgage process," said FHFA Director Melvin L. Watt. "Adding a preferred language question to the URLA will enable mortgage industry participants to connect LEP borrowers to available language access resources. This will support access to credit for a growing segment of the nation's housing finance market."
FHFA believes that the long-term goal of improving language access for LEP borrowers is in the interest of all segments of the mortgage market. The broader revision of the URLA – the first significant revision in more than 20 years – provides a good opportunity to begin capturing preferred language information and is an important step toward this goal.
Following robust stakeholder outreach and public feedback on its broader language access
Request for Input, FHFA has taken steps to address concerns raised about inclusion of a language preference question. These steps include adding disclosure language to the question to mitigate legal concerns raised by lenders, set appropriate borrower expectations about available language services, and inform borrowers about other language access resources. The Enterprises will also publish a separate disclosure translated into several languages that further informs borrowers about the nature of available language resources. Use of this disclosure will be optional for lenders.
Preferred Language Question for the Uniform Residential Loan Application
Media: Corinne Russell (202) 649-3032 / Stefanie Johnson (202) 649-3030Consumers: Consumer Communications or (202) 649-3811
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