Making Mortgages More 'Vanilla'
September 11, 2009
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan says mortgage-disclosure forms will be revamped to help borrowers better understand loan terms and the costs associated with the transaction. The reforms will enhance transparency and make the process simpler, as borrowers will be offered "plain vanilla" 30-year fixed mortgages first. They would have to opt into more complicated financial products and be alerted to the risks. "They days of fine print, amorphous language and an avalanche of papers [could soon] come to an end," declares John Taylor of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. The reforms also would ban yield-spread premiums -- commissions paid to brokers by lenders for selling mortgages with costly terms -- and either eliminate or restrict prepayment penalties, as well as require mortgage originators to retain at least a 5 percent stake in all of their loans. While some observers are concerned that the changes would boost mortgage rates by 0.5 percentage points, others believe such a cost is minimal compared to the price of the current mortgage crisis.
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