Call it an early litmus test: There's a real estate issue pending before the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that should provide important insights into just how protective of consumers' interests this fledgling new agency intends to be. Will it accommodate the big banks when their interests clash with the public's right to know where money is flowing in a financial transaction? Or will it come down on the side of ordinary consumers' right to full disclosure? The latter was certainly the spirit surrounding the creation of the CFPB by Congress last year in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. But there are disturbing signs that, at least in one key area affecting homebuyers and real estate professionals' wallets, the CFPB may be tilting toward the banks. The issue involves disclosure of appraisal charges on the HUD-1 settlement form. The CFPB is working on a replacement for the HUD-1 -- soon to be renamed the Settlement Disclosure Form, or SDF -- and r...
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