Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Qualified Mortgage (QM) - Lender Responsibility and Definition

Residential Mortgage Lenders primary purpose is to provide consumer loans secured by single family housing to facilitate acquisition for a consumer purpose.  Consumer purpose is housing the primary borrower, co-borrower, and or family.  Residential Mortgage Lenders have due care responsibility to ensure applicants can afford the loan for the term of the loan and it fits the applicants purpose.
Commercial Purpose loans secured by residential zoned property (Rental Properties, Industrial, and general purpose) should be handled by a small business lender that is tasked to originate this type of credit facility.
IMO: Just because a Residential Non-Qualified Mortgage product is offered for a residential consumer purposes is not a justification for a licensed or registered residential mortgage professional to sell it.  Licensed Mortgage Loan Originators (NMLS and State License Compliant Mortgage Loan Originators) and Registered Bank Mortgage Employees (Bank Employees whose job is to Originate Mortgages and is not Licensed) should be a fiduciary for the consumer and ensure they recommend the right product.  Mortgage product recommendations should only be made after understanding the client's needs through an interview process and ensuring the client can afford the loan today and for the term of the loan.  In the future all Bank and Non-Bank Mortgage Professionals will be licensed to the same standard which will ensure all consumers have consistent protection when shopping for their mortgage.
This trust and due care is the key to referrals and the key to longevity in this business. 
In its simplest form, Qualified Mortgages (QM) meet the following requirements:
> A loan that meets the requirements of GSEs, FHA, VA, or USDA and can be sold in the primary secondary market
> Consumer has a documented and verified ability to repay
Starting January 10, 2014, you must assess the borrower’s ability to repay all term residential mortgage loans. All QMs are presumed to comply with this requirement. As described below, a loan that meets the product feature requirements can be a QM under any of three main categories:
Mandatory product feature requirements for all QMs
  1. Points and fees must be less than or equal to 3% of the loan amount (amounts less than $100k, higher % thresholds are allowed);
  2. No negative amortization, interest-only, or balloon loans that increase risk (BUT NOTE: balloon loans originated until January 10, 2016 that meet the other product features are QMs if originated and held in portfolio by small creditors);
  3. Maximum loan term is less than or = 30 years. 
Three main categories (CFPB Definition) 
1. General definition of QMs

Any loan that meets the product feature requirements with a debt-to-income ratio of 43% or less is a QM

2. "GSE-eligible" category of QMs
Any loan that meets the product feature requirements and is eligible for purchase, guarantee, or insurance by a GSE, FHA, VA, or USDA is QM regardless of the debt-to-income ratio (this QM category applies for GSE loans as long as the GSEs are in FHFA conservatorship and for federal agency loans until an agency issues its own QM rules, or January 10, 2021, whichever occurs first).
3. Small creditor category of QMs  
If you have less than $2B in assets and originate 500 or fewer first mortgages per year, loans you make and hold in portfolio are QMs as long as you have considered and verified a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio (though no specific DTI limit applies).

I truly hope our industry learned from the last recession that mortgages are a cornerstone of the US economy.  We make a difference every day and should govern the products we offer consumers with due care at the fore front.  Today we are seeing a similar trend to 2006 - 2009 when the industry evolved product features to target a broader category of borrower to increase origination volume.  I believe there are some products that are needed for borrowers that are not currently participating in today's mortgage market; however, we need to ensure industry risk remains low.   

Cal Haupt
Chairman and CEO
Southeast Mortgage of Georgia, Inc.

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