Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Predatory Lending Regulations - (16) No Documentation Loans

The Attorney General is proposing new regulations under the Consumer Protection Act (M.G.L. 93A). The new regulations add new prohibited activities as provisions (15), (16), (17) and (18) under 940 C.M.R 8.06.

The proposed prohibited activity in (16) limits the mortgage lender's ability to make no-documentation or limited documentation loans. These types of loans were targeted at borrowers who had trouble documenting all of their income. Typically this type of borrower would be an independent contractor or small business owner. [CNN.Money background article]

On the dark side, I believe these borrowers were typically a contractor or business owner who did not do a good job tracking all of the cash they received and was hiding income from the taxman. I also think these loans were used for a borrower trying to get more of a mortgage than they would ordinarily be able to get using typical underwriting standards. The borrower would state that they had more income than they actually did. I never saw a good reason for this type of loan to exist other than to cheat the lender or the taxman.

The Washington Post does not paint a pretty picture on the use of these loans: The Lowdown on Low-Doc Loans.

Although the new regulation does not prohibit this type of loan, the regulation makes them very unappealing to lenders. The lender must deliver a statement with the borrower's income and a disclosure that the loan will be at a higher interest rate because of the "no-doc" option. Also, the lender needs to verify the employment and income when the stated income is "not reasonable for the occupation or experience of the borrower.. . ."

I do not know how a lender is supposed to determine what a reasonable income is for a person in a particular occupation with a particular level of experience. Effectively, a lender is leaving itself wide open for a claim under 93A if makes no-doc or limited doc loans in Massachusetts.

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