Realty and mortgage brokers and associations that have been waiting for the Office of Management and Budget to comment on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act rule will have to wait a while longer for any information.

OMB’s comment letter was expected this week at the end of a 90-day review period; however, OMB, a White House office, has extended its review of the rule for another 30 days, at HUD’s request, according to HUD spokesperson Brian Sullivan.

“The RESPA rule currently under review is a complex document supported by an extensive economic analysis. As a result, HUD and OMB require additional time to explore all of the comments and questions raised by the review,” HUD said in a statement this morning.

RESPA is a set of federal regulations that proscribe certain disclosures for home mortgages and prohibit certain kickbacks in real estate transactions, among other requirements.

The federal housing department, a $32 billion public agency with 9,300 employees, submitted the finalized RESPA rule OMB in mid-December 2003, just a week or so after then HUD Secretary Mel Martinez resigned from the presidential cabinet-level post to campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

The initial draft of the proposal that HUD unveiled in June 2002 would have revamped the good faith estimate lenders use to disclose costs to borrowers and facilitated packaging of loan origination and settlement service fees. A number of industry groups voiced their dislike of the proposal, which netted an unprecedented 45,000 public comment letters.

The rule HUD submitted to OMB hasn’t been made public, so no one knows exactly what’s in it. More than 200 members of Congress last Friday sent a letter to OMB to protest that secrecy. The letter stated that the signatories support HUD’s efforts to improve the home-buying process, but disapprove of the way in which the agency submitted its finalized rule to OMB.


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