Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Rancid Truth - Mortgage Lenders Make More Commissions By Screwing The Borrower

From California's North County Times:

California mortgage brokers, most of whom are licensed by the state Department of Real Estate, are legally obligated to act in the best interest of the borrower.
"However, there is no enforcement mechanism in place to ensure that they (do so)," said Paul Leonard, director for the California office of the Center for Responsible Lending. Leonard told a state banking commission earlier this year that mortgage brokers "have strong incentives to make abusive loans that harm consumers, and no one is stopping them."

A mortgage broker's incentive "is to close the loan while charging the highest combination of fees and mortgage interest rates the market will bear," a 2004 study prepared by Harvard University's Joint Center of Housing Studies concluded.

Brokers can earn higher commissions -- up to 3 percent instead of the typical 1 percent -- by having customers buy loans with interest rates that are higher than market rates, with prepayment penalties charged if the loan is paid off before a certain date, and with little or no verification of the borrower's income, known as "stated income" loans. That's the difference between a $12,000 and a $4,000 commission on a $400,000 loan.

But why will the home finance market bear high fees AND high mortgage interest rates? How can structuring loans that promote perpetual financial serfdom be acceptable to the borrower? How can reckless underwriting practices as well as tried and true "bait and switch" tactics be acceptable to loan consumers?

The answer is the 21st century financial retardation of the American consumer. Sure, one can certainly blame mortgage lenders and realtors for all of the hell breaking lose in real estate. It's almost too easy to do so - much in the same way one might blame ants for showing up at a picnic.

Compensation schemes like the ones described above might make one's blood boil, but the truth is that none of these incentives would ever be that attractive or effective, if the American consumers fueling the insanity weren't so incredibly illiterate when it comes to their own money.

We are approaching the middle of 2007 and millions of American home borrowers (not homeowners) are now paying the price with personal bankruptcy and home foreclosure - harsh lessons to learn that will likely affect their financial lives for years to come.


Morgan said...

This is sad but true, basically the scum-of-the-earth brokers (and bank employees for that matter) try to charge points on the front plus sell an inflated interest rate to make yield spread premium on the back of the loan from the lender. Max Fees is what those with no souls call it.

Anonymous said...

Unethical and corruption is the name of the game