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Mortgage Broker Standards

Posted by  on Apr 16, 2009
 
Mortgage brokers must comply with standards set by law in order to charge a fee to a borrower. The fees must meet an additional threshold, that the combined rate and costs may not exceed a lower percentage, without being deemed a "High Cost Mortgage". An excess would trigger additional disclosures and warnings of risk to a borrower. Further, the mortgage broker would have to be more compliant with regulators. Costs are likely lower due to this regulation.

Mortgage bankers and banks are not subject to this cost reduction act. Because the selling of loans generates most lender fees, servicing the total in most cases exceeds the high cost act. Whereas mortgage brokers now must reduce their fees, a licensed lender is unaffected by the second portion of fee generation. This is due to the delay of selling the servicing until after closing. Therefore, it is considered a secondary market transaction and not subject to the same regulation.

Predatory lending runs unregulated in the mortgage services industry. Consumers are often victims of predatory lending according to CNN. The main concern is that mortgage brokers and lenders whilst operating legally, are dishonestly finding loopholes in the law to obtain additional profit. The main culprit is a little known fee called Yield spread premium, which is a cash rebate wholesale lenders pay to brokers for charging a borrower a higher interest rate than they qualify for.

The top wholesale institutions are Federal National Mortgage Association, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, commonly referred to as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, respectively. Loans must comply with their jointly derived standard application form guidelines so they may become eligible for sale to larger loan services or investors. These larger investors could then sell them to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to replenish warehouse funds. The goal is to package loan portfolios in conformance with the secondary market to maintain the ability to sell loans for capital. If interest rates drop and the portfolio has a higher average interest rate, the banker can sell the loans at a larger profit based on the difference in the current market rate. Some large lenders will hold their loans until such a gain is possible.

The selling of mortgage loans in the wholesale or secondary market is more common. They provide permanent capital to the borrowers. A "direct lender" may lend directly to a borrower, but can have the loan pre-sold prior to the closing. Few lenders are comprehensive. That is, few close, keep, and service the mortgage loan. The term is known as portfolio lending, indicating that a loan has been made from funds on deposit or a trust.

Another unethical practice involves inserting hidden clauses in contracts in which a borrower will unknowingly promise to pay the broker or lender to find him or her a mortgage whether or not the mortgage is closed. Though regarded as unethical by the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, this practice is legal.

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