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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Acting Director Mick Mulvaney addressed REALTORS® during the Regulatory Issues Forum at the 2018 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo this week, discussing the agency’s changing enforcement policy, as well as real estate-related regulation.

“The regulation by enforcement answer is really simple: We aren’t doing it anymore,” said Mulvaney. “It’s a fairness issue. If you’ve done something for so long and the government wants to change the rules, shouldn’t the government have to tell you they are changing the rules before they fine you?

“We are not out to make you look like a bad guy if you are not,” Mulvaney said. “We are out to enforce the law, not become the law.”

In January, the CFPB announced it is asking for input on its role, encouraging feedback on its operations and purpose. The agency has issued many Requests for Information (RFIs) in the months since.

“I need information from you folks, from consumers, from everyone who has a dog in the fight to provide insight,” said Mulvaney.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently submitted comments on Consumer Investigative Demands and associated processes used by the Bureau to gather facts during an investigation to pursue potential violations of federal consumer financial laws.

“NAR is encouraged by the new direction of the Bureau under Director Mulvaney’s leadership, specifically, plans to decrease unnecessary regulatory burdens in line with the current administration,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “NAR has been supportive of legislation that promises to reduce burdensome requirements, including for smaller creditors, to facilitate increased lending, and we are hopeful such changes will move through Congress soon.”

Mulvaney additionally addressed college debt and homeownership, stating, “We don’t have a magic wand to make a pile of student loan debt go away. What we can do is make sure that consumers are educated before they take on that debt.”

A discussion followed that included Phil Schulman, partner at Mayer Brown, and Tim Wilson, CEO/president of Prosperity Home Mortgage. Schulman, Wilson and other panelists agreed that the CFPB should be headed up by a bipartisan commission comprised of five members, as opposed to a director—a change NAR supports, as well.

“We should never rely on a single individual to enforce the law; you shouldn’t have to trust me not to abuse my authority,” Mulvaney said.

The discussion also touched on the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), with Schulman and Wilson both hopeful for more clarity with the change in CFPB leadership.

“We need guidance, and we should be knocking on the door of the CFPB about several issues, one of the most pressing being co-advertising between agents and lenders,” said Schulman. “This is a practice that has been going on for more than 10 years, and the CFPB has provided no guidance on how to do so in compliance with RESPA.”

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