The rules are the latest effort by the consumer watchdog to improve the way homeowners interact with the mortgage industry at every step of the lending process. In the past eight days, the agency has handed down a series of guidelines that include requiring mortgage servicers to provide struggling homeowners with options to avoid foreclosure and curtailing harmful practices such as interest-only payments.
The agency issued another rule on Friday that requires lenders to automatically provide borrowers with a copy of the appraisal report used in the evaluation of their home-loan application.
The flurry of new rules codifies many conservative lending practices that have become commonplace in the aftermath of the financial crisis. They provide a framework that consumer groups say has been sorely missing in the housing market.
“These rules are about protecting people from predatory lending practices,” CFPB director Richard Cordray said in a conference call announcing the origination rules. “By adopting the loan-originator compensation rule, we are enhancing the efficiency of the mortgage market and working in the best interest of the American consumer.”
Still, some advocates worry that the rules will fall short of fully protecting consumers from unsavory practices. Banking groups, meanwhile, are concerned that implementing so many changes at once will drive up costs for lenders, and ultimately consumers.
For would-be homeowners, mortgage brokers and loan officers are there to help in obtaining a home loan. They can negotiate the terms of the loan and they are supposed to ensure that borrowers are placed in mortgages that they can afford.
But in the go-go days of the housing market, originators had incentives to push risky loans — such as those with interest-only payments —because they often came with the highest fees.
Under the CFPB’s new rules, mortgage brokers and loan officers can no longer be paid more if the borrower takes a loan with a higher interest rate, a prepayment penalty or higher fees — all features of subprime loans.
The agency also outlawed “dual compensation,” whereby brokers are paid by both the consumer and the lender for their services. Originators must be screened for felony convictions and undergo training to ensure they are knowledgeable about the rules governing the types of loans they originate.
Analysts say the origination rules coupled with restrictions on points — the upfront fees borrowers pay to brokers to reduce the interest rate on their loan — and other fees contained in the agency’s qualified mortgage rules issued last week will radically change the mortgage lending business.