Spring Ahead With the 2009 Mortgage Reform Bill - By: Leslie Eskildsen

Description : Finally, a reform bill that puts the responsibility where it belongs - back in the lap of the lender. By toughening some of the old rules, and adding rules that should have been there in the first place, this bill makes the lender more accountable when it comes to negotiating a mortgage.

The ominous sounding "Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009" introduced by the House Services Committee is moving ahead after a successful 45-19 vote. It still needs be cleared by Senate and signed by the president before being enforced.

If it seems that this bill is moving quickly, it is. Over 2 million subprime mortgages are expected to reset to higher interest rates in the next 18 months, and this reform will be part of the action implemented to reduce the resulting national fallout.

Here are some of the highlights of this bill:

Licensing for mortgage brokers and bank loan officers will become standard.

Previously, larger incentives were paid out to mortgage brokers for securing higher rate or higher risk mortgages; with the new bill, no incentives can be attached to the interest rate or type of mortgage.

Mandatory quality control for mortgages on a national level will be enforced. Standard rules will include encouraging lenders to provide long term, fixed-rate loans with consistent market rates, instead of low interest introductory rates or negative amortization. It will also hold lenders accountable to find terms and rates that are appropriate for the individual borrowers and their ability to repay. Lenders will also be required to offer the option to choose a loan without a prepayment penalty. Mandatory arbitration clauses in most mortgages will also be removed.

If a borrower's rights were not considered according to the rules of this policy, they would be eligible to cancel their loan contract and receive a refund of all payments, fees and legal costs. If a borrower committed fraud or was untruthful about their situation when applying for a loan, they would not be eligible for the same recourse.

Lenders offering anything other than a 30-year fixed-rate loan, is required to maintain a minimum 5% investment in the loan until it is paid off. If it goes into default, they would own part of the loss. Today, lenders simply sell off the loans and walk away. The intention here is to discourage fly-by-night lenders or those offering low introductory rate sales or promotions to entice buyers. Many believe this will put a strain on the smaller mortgage companies, having to set aside securities to cover any potential losses.

Anyone considering refinancing will have to pass a "net tangible benefit" test that indicates that the borrower will be better off financially with the new loan.

Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, watch for the latest "Credit Card Reform Bill that recently squeaked through the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on a 12 to 11 vote. Although many believe this is an area in dire need of reform, there is the question that it will make it even harder for the average consumer to get credit approval.

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