Return of the Predatory Lending Rip-Off

June 19, 2013
U.S. News & World Report 
mortgage lending news

Subprime mortgage-style greed is again rearing its ugly head, as illustrated by industry-backed bills H.R. 1077 and S. 949, writes Jim Lardner, communications director at Americans for Financial Reform. The proposals, he explains, would "re-legitimize" lender kickbacks that encouraged brokers to promote dangerous and deceptive loans, especially in low-income areas and minority neighborhoods. The Federal Reserve Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have moved to implement rules to end this system of compensation, at the same time brokers and lenders are trying to promote the proposed Consumer Mortgage Choice Act. Both the House and Senate versions would exempt broker kickbacks from a "qualified mortgage" rule stipulating that broker payments from either borrowers or lenders may not exceed 3 percent of the loan. Lardner argues that the proposed legislation would open up opportunities for more of the aggressive and indiscriminate mortgage lending that preceded the market collapse. Subprime lenders often used a form of broker commission known as a yield spread premium (YSP), which essentially rewarded brokers for charging borrowers with a needlessly expensive or risky loan. YSPs often led to bad mortgages; a late 2011 report by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) found that such predatory lending practices were a strong predictor of foreclosure. CRL also found that about 25 percent of all Latino and African-American borrowers had either been foreclosed on or fallen into serious delinquency, compared to fewer than 12 percent of white borrowers.
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