Restarting Mortgage Finance: Step 1

Recently the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a much anticipated rule that finally gets the ball rolling on reform of the mortgage finance industry. Investors fled the market following the housing bust, reducing the flow of financing to borrowers. Likewise, many homebuyers were sold mortgage products that were untenable, resulting in damaged credit and lost savings. Transparency, verification and documentation are keys to restoring confidence from investors and homebuyers. The majority of the market will benefit from the new QM rule, but a subset of the market will likely face higher prices or lose access to financing all together.

The Qualified Mortgage rule, or QM, lays out basic requirements for lender underwriting. In short, the originator of the loan must verify all sources of income and assets and verify that the borrower has the ability to repay the mortgage (ATR). A number of loan types are prohibited from receiving the QM statu,s including those with negative amortization (balloon payments), interest-only features, as well as those with durations greater than 30-years. Finally, there is a cap on fees that lenders can charge of 3% (with an exception for loans under $100,000) and the back-end debt to income ratio (DTI) must be less than or equal to 43%.

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