View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.

For Release on Del ivo it

Statement by

Philip C. Jackson, Jr.

Member, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

before the

Committee on Banking, Housing
and Urban Affairs

U.S. Senate

September 15, 1975




Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to present the
views of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on
proposals to amend the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of
1975.

The Board has interest in this legislation as an agency with

responsibilities over creditors and to consum ers, as an organization
with concerns for monetary conditions in the nation, and, finally, as
a regulator under the Truth in Lending aspects of the real estate
settlement procedures required under the Act.

It is this final m atter—

the Truth in Lending aspects of real estate settlement procedures— on
which I would like to concentrate during this testimony.
The RESPA Act has been in effect only a very short time.

The

Board does not know if the reports of lenders claiming substantial in­
creases in administrative costs under the required procedures are
correct.

Nor do we have any factual evidence whether o r not RESPA

has reduced closing costs to consum ers, or whether it is likely to do
so in the future.
Implementation of RESPA required coordination between the
Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Board of Governors
to assure that the basic requirements of the Truth in Lending Act administered

under Board supervision would be incorporated into RESPA procedures:.
Tho Board and 1IUD have done so. During the course of this coordination
and the early stages of the Act's implementation, the Board has become
aware of several instances of needless complexity and procedural problems
with the Act.
First, as the Committee knows, all consumer credit grantors,
including those in the mortgage market, have operated under Truth
in Lending procedures for the past six years.

Creditors have developed

forms which are in almost universal operation to meet the requirements
of that Act, and to fit the needs of each lender-borrower transaction.
RESPA mandated that existing forms on real estate credit transactions
be replaced by standard forms.

Because of the complexity and variety

of real property ti’ans actions, it was extremely difficult to develop a
standard RESPA form which was easily applicable to all transactions.
Standardization required lenders to change procedures and adapt to the
now required forms. It required industry personnel to be retrained in
new Truth in Lending procedures.

Lenders report that this change has

proved costly, without better disclosures on the cost of credit to consumers
as a result of the change. Therefore, the Board would recommend that
ere Jiiors be permitted to use, for such Truth in Lending disclosures, any
form moeting the requirements of the Truth in Lending statute, or at the
creditor's option, the present uniform disclosure statement contained in
RE SPA forms.




-

3-

Second, the Board has long supported requirements that a
prospective borrow er be given proper information in advance on which
he can make decisions on his credit and closing costs—especially on
such a m ajor undertaking as the purchase of real estate.

RESPA

requires that Truth in Lending be disclosed twice: once in advance
of settlement and again on the day of settlement. The Board recommends
to the Congress that it amend the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
to require that the Truth in Lending disclosures be furnished only to the
borrow er one time, in advance of the date of settlement, and not require
that they be duplicated at the time of closing.

Truth in Lending disclosures

received on the day of settlement are too late to serve any shopping function.
The Board believes that these minor changes will not adversely affect
consumers but will reduce the amount of effort necessary to give consumers
adequate disclosure as to the facts concerning their credit transaction,
while avoiding unnecessary duplication.

M oreover, such disclosures

need not be made to the seller, in the Board's opinion.
Finally, the Board urges the Congress to repeal entirely the
provisions of Section 409 of P .L . 93-495 which amended the Truth in
Lending Act to require advance disclosure of closing costs.

The Committee

will recall that this Act was passed October 28, 1974, prior to the en­
actment of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures A ct.




We feel that the




- ‘

1-

previsions of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act supplanted
the need for Section 409 disclosure and therefore, Section 409 is no
longer necessary.
While there are some transactions which are not covered by the
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act to which Section 409 disclosure
of closing costs would be applicable, such as some home improvement
transactions, there is real doubt of the value of advance disclosure of
closing costs in such situations for several reasons.

First, closing

costs are usually not a material factor in total consumer costs in such
transactions. Second, these transactions are usually subject to the 3day right of rescission under Truth in Lending because they are secured
by real estate which is the primary residence of the borrower.

Con­

sequently, if the consumer does not like the credit deal proposed, he can
cancel it.

Finally, the time framework within which such transactions

take place is usually so short that disclosure delays may be detrimental
to the consumer's interest.
The Board is currently in the process of implementation of
Section 409, having waited until final RESPA procedures were completed
in order to avoid public confusion between the two disclosure requirements.
In a broader context, the Board has earlier expressed concern
that legislation purporting to assist consumers may actually harm




consumers by imposing burdens on the creation of borrow er-lender
relationships.

Such harm might come from creation of requirements

which are so complex as to eliminate some lenders from consumer
markets, thus

reducing the competition for the consum er's business.

Another harm could arise from increasing the cost of creating proper
borrow er-lender relationships.

Since lenders must in the final analysis

make investments based on net return after administrative costs, any
increases in administrative costs of lenders in competitive markets are
ultimately passed on to the consumer either directly o r indirectly.
Reports from others give the Board concern that the Real Estate
Settlement Procedures Act may be creating both of the problems
which I have described.