Ever wonder whether your mortgage banking attorney is really top-flight instead of just OK? Then ask your attorney what's required to open branch offices in New Jersey and Nevada. [??] That so-so lawyer will tell you both states require lenders to have a physical office. The first-class one will go on to tell you that the two states define "office" differently. In liberal Nevada, you can get by with a shared office in an executive suite; but in New Jersey, you'll need a separate entrance, a listing on the directory and your own lease. [??] Technically, the counsel delivered by that merely OK attorney is correct--as both states have a brick-and-mortar requirement--but he hasn't done anywhere near the job a great attorney would. [??] Robert Lotstein is one of those mortgage banking attorneys who strives to go above and beyond. His quest to build a standout mortgage banking practice led to the formation of Lotstein Buckman LLP 15 years ago. The Washington, D.C-based law firm focuses on residential mortgage banking, and in a rather bold move this specialty law practice put its entire knowledge base online when it created iComply[R], a nationwide, subscriber-based, online compliance resource.
The goal of iComply is to boil down every mortgage banking law to its real-life application. It's not enough to know that a particular state allows prepayment penalties. Your firm must also know how much it can charge and how long the prepayment penalty period may last.
The iComply online database includes laws, statutes, cases, regulations and ordinances relating to residential mortgage banking first, second, open and closed-end loans. It covers origination through servicing for jurisdictions as small as cities, or as expansive as county, state or federal issues.
The value of iComply goes beyond simply reporting new rules and laws, because it contains analysis to help mortgage bankers of all sizes understand how a particular issue will affect their businesses. Its two versions--one for bankers and one for brokers--ensure that firms with different business structures get tailored, real-world interpretations of the laws and regulations that influence their businesses.
Using iComply, subscribers can instantaneously check the rules governing thousands of everyday mortgage banking activities such as prepayment limitations, wet closings or what constitutes a high-cost loan. The site also includes state and federal disclosure forms as well as other forms that mortgage bankers need, and interpretation of the rules they must follow.
Want to read the statute yourself in addition to the iComply analysis? Click on one of the 15,000 documents in the iComply library or 66,000 footnotes in the system, and you'll be linked to the source document.
"We're attorneys--we like to document," quips Lotstein, iComply's president and Lotstein Buckman's managing partner.
It's not easy being compliant
The mortgage banking compliance field may be a narrow one, but it's deep. It takes as many as eight attorneys and several paralegals to keep track of an endless stream of new proposals and changes made to the plethora of existing laws and regulations governing mortgage banking.
Beyond tracking laws, there's the added task of explaining exactly what legislators and regulators mean. For instance, 30 states now require individuals working in mortgage banking to be licensed, says Joseph Young, an iComply paralegal. Each of those 30 states has its own idea about which individuals should be licensed.
If your firm wants to open a branch in 12 of those states, you can use iComply to instantly construct a multistate matrix giving the broad requirements for licensing in chart form. In fact, the ability to create on-the-fly nationwide surveys that are customized to the user's needs and show how states treat mortgage issues is one of the hallmarks of iComply, according to Amber Ried-Barrett, an iComply attorney. …