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Notice

Proposed Collection; Comment Request

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AGENCY:

Federal Housing Finance Agency.

ACTION:

60-Day notice of submission of information collection for approval from Office of Management and Budget.

SUMMARY:

In accordance with the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is seeking public comments concerning an information collection known as the “American Survey of Mortgage Borrowers,” which has been assigned control number 2590-0015 by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). FHFA intends to submit the information collection to OMB for review and approval of a three-year extension of the control number, which is due to expire on July 31, 2019.

DATES:

Interested persons may submit comments on or before July 29, 2019.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments to FHFA, identified by “Proposed Collection; Comment Request: `American Survey of Mortgage Borrowers, (No. 2019-N-04)'” by any of the following methods:

  • Agency Website: www.fhfa.gov/​open-for-comment-or-input.
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. If you submit your comment to the Federal eRulemaking Portal, please also send it by email to FHFA at RegComments@fhfa.gov to ensure timely receipt by the agency.
  • Mail/Hand Delivery: Federal Housing Finance Agency, Eighth Floor, 400 Seventh Street SW, Washington, DC 20219, ATTENTION: Proposed Collection; Comment Request: “American Survey of Mortgage Borrowers, (No. 2019-N-04)”.

We will post all public comments we receive without change, including any personal information you provide, such as your name and address, email address, and telephone number, on the FHFA website at http://www.fhfa.gov. In addition, copies of all comments received will be available for examination by the public through the electronic comment docket for this PRA Notice also located on the FHFA website.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Saty Patrabansh, Manager, National Mortgage Database Program, Saty.Patrabansh@fhfa.gov, (202) 649-3213; or Eric Raudenbush, Associate General Counsel, Eric.Raudenbush@fhfa.gov, (202) 649-3084, (these are not toll-free numbers), Federal Housing Finance Agency, 400 Seventh Street SW, Washington, DC 20219. The Telecommunications Device for the Hearing Impaired is (800) 877-8339.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Need For and Use of the Information Collection

FHFA is seeking OMB clearance under the PRA for a collection of information known as the “American Survey of Mortgage Borrowers” (ASMB). The ASMB is an annual, voluntary survey of individuals who currently have a first mortgage loan secured by single-family residential property. The 2018 survey questionnaire consisted of 93 questions designed to learn directly from mortgage borrowers about their mortgage experience, any challenges they may have had in maintaining their mortgage and, where applicable, in terminating a mortgage. It requested specific information on: the mortgage; the mortgaged property; the borrower's experience with the loan servicer; and the borrower's financial resources and financial knowledge. FHFA is also seeking clearance to pretest future iterations of the survey questionnaire and related materials from time to time through the use of focus groups. A copy of the 2018 survey questionnaire appears at the end of this notice.

The ASMB is a component of the “National Mortgage Database” (NMDB) Program, which is a joint effort of FHFA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The NMDB Program is designed to satisfy the Congressionally-mandated requirements of section 1324(c) of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act.[1] Section 1324(c) requires that FHFA conduct a monthly survey to collect data on the characteristics of individual prime and subprime mortgages, and on the borrowers and properties associated with those mortgages, in order to enable it to prepare a detailed annual report on the mortgage market activities of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) for review by the appropriate Congressional oversight committees. Section 1324(c) also authorizes and requires FHFA to compile a database of timely and otherwise unavailable residential mortgage market information to be made available to the public.

As a means of fulfilling these and other statutory requirements, as well as to support policymaking and research regarding the residential mortgage markets, FHFA and CFPB jointly established the National Mortgage Database Program in 2012. The Program is designed to provide comprehensive information about the U.S. mortgage market and has three primary components: (1) The NMDB; (2) the quarterly National Survey of Mortgage Originations (NSMO); and (3) the ASMB.

The NMDB is a de-identified loan-level database of closed-end first-lien residential mortgage loans that is representative of the market as a whole, contains detailed loan-level information on the terms and performance of the mortgages and the characteristics of the associated borrowers and properties, is continually updated, has an historical component dating back to 1998, and provides a sampling frame for surveys to collect additional information. The core data in the NMDB are drawn from a random 1-in-20 sample of all closed-end first-lien mortgage files outstanding at any time between January 1998 and the present in the files of Experian, one of Start Printed Page 24784the three national credit repositories. A random 1-in-20 sample of mortgages newly reported to Experian is added each quarter.

The NMDB also draws information on mortgages in the NMDB datasets from other existing sources, including the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data that are maintained by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), property valuation models, and data files maintained by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and by federal agencies. FHFA obtains additional data from the quarterly NSMO, which provides critical and timely information on newly-originated mortgages and those borrowing that are not available from any existing source, including: The range of nontraditional and subprime mortgage products being offered, the methods by which these mortgages are being marketed, and the characteristics of borrowers for these types of loans.[2]

While the NSMO provides information on newly-originated mortgages, the ASMB solicits information on borrowers' experience with maintaining their existing mortgages, including their experience maintaining mortgages under financial stress, their experience in soliciting financial assistance, their success in accessing federally-sponsored programs designed to assist them, and, where applicable, any challenges they may have had in terminating a mortgage loan. This type of information is not available from any other source. Beginning in 2016, the ASMB questionnaire has been sent out annually to a stratified random sample of 10,000 borrowers in the NMDB. In 2018, the ASMB had an 18.7 percent overall response rate, which yielded 1,793 survey responses.

When fully processed, the information collected through the ASMB will be used, in combination with information obtained from existing sources in the NMDB, to assist FHFA in understanding how the performance of existing mortgages is influencing the residential mortgage market, what different borrower groups are discussing with their servicers when they are under financial stress, and consumers' opinions of federally-sponsored programs designed to assist them. This important, but otherwise unavailable, information will assist FHFA in the supervision of its regulated entities (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks) and in the development and implementation of appropriate and effective policies and programs. The information will also be used for research and analysis by CFPB and other federal agencies that have regulatory and supervisory responsibilities/mandates related to mortgage markets and to provide a resource for research and analysis by academics and other interested parties outside of the government.

As it has done in the past, FHFA expects to continue to sponsor focus groups to pretest possible survey questions and revisions to the survey materials. Such pretesting ultimately helps to ensure that the survey respondents can and will answer the survey questions and will provide useful data on their experiences with maintaining their existing mortgages. FHFA uses information collected through the focus groups to assist in drafting and modifying the survey questions and instructions, as well as the related communications, to read in the way that will be most readily understood by the survey respondents and that will be most likely to elicit usable responses. Such information is also used to help determine how best to organize and format the survey questionnaire.

B. Burden Estimate

This information collection comprises two components: (I) The ASMB survey; and (II) the pre-testing of the survey questionnaire and related materials through the use of cognitive testing. FHFA conducted the survey annually from 2016 through 2018. Although the ASMB is nominally an annual survey, the decision as to whether the ASMB will be conducted in 2019 and thereafter depends upon the availability of funding and on assessments as to whether there is a continuing need for the type of data collected through the survey. For purposes of these burden estimates, however, FHFA assumes that it will conduct the survey once annually over the next three years and that it will conduct two rounds of pre-testing on each set of survey materials.

FHFA has analyzed the total hour burden on members of the public associated with conducting the survey (5,000 hours) and with pre-testing the survey materials (24 hours) and estimates the total annual hour burden imposed on the public by this information collection to be 5,024 hours. The estimate for each phase of the collection was calculated as follows:

I. Conducting the Survey

FHFA estimates that the ASMB questionnaire will be sent to 10,000 recipients each time it is conducted. Although it expects that only about 1,800 of those surveys will be returned, FHFA has calculated the burden estimates below as if all of the surveys will be returned. Based on the reported experience of respondents to earlier ASMB questionnaires, FHFA estimates that it will take each respondent 30 minutes to complete each survey, including the gathering of necessary materials to respond to the questions. This results in a total annual burden estimate of 5,000 hours for the survey phase of this collection (1 survey per year × 10,000 respondents per survey × 30 minutes per respondent = 5,000 hours).

II. Pre-Testing the Materials

FHFA estimates that it will sponsor two focus groups prior to conducting each annual survey, with 12 participants in each focus group, for a total of 24 focus group participants. It estimates the participation time for each focus group participant to be one hour, resulting in a total annual burden estimate of 24 hours for the pre-testing phase of the collection (2 focus groups per year × 12 participants in each group × 1 hour per participant = 24 hours).

C. Comment Request

FHFA requests written comments on the following: (1) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of FHFA functions, including whether the information has practical utility; (2) the accuracy of FHFA's estimates of the burdens of the collection of information; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

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Dated: May 23, 2019.

Kevin Winkler,

Chief Information Officer, Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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Footnotes

2.  OMB has cleared the NSMO under the PRA and assigned it control no. 2590-0012, which expires on April 30, 2020.

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BILLING CODE 8070-01-P

[FR Doc. 2019-11182 Filed 5-28-19; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8070-01-C