The Ethics of Predatory Lending in the Housing Industry
The real estate industry is thriving with approximately sixty-eight percent of all Americans being homeowners. With low interest rates, 1st time home buyer down payment assistance programs, and government funded educational opportunities (i.e. the Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati), the real estate and mortgage lending industries will continue to flourish. However, there are some unethical lending practices that are threatening the housing industry as a whole.
Those involved in the mortgage lending process have some duty to the borrower. They are expected to perform their specific duties in an ethical manner and have some form of direct or indirect contact with the client. Banks (Prime Market): Banks are lenders who generally handle all facets of the lending process through their own institution. They function differently from brokers in that they usually only service those clients with good credit ratings/scores of 700 or more. Mortgage Brokers (Sub-prime Market): According to HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, mortgage brokers are involved in about sixty percent of all mortgage loan transactions. Brokers try to find the best loan for their clients by shopping their loan applications around to lenders who are willing to accept the clients credit package. Brokers generally service clients, known as B-C-D credit clients, with ratings/scores of 650 and below. In some instances, a major problem for borrowers is that a broker may work in the best interest of the lender as well. Furthermore, in some states they can act as brokers and lenders. Brokers can be considered dual agents. Brokers (1) originate loans using "table funding" provided by a pre-arranged buyer of the loan (2) originate loans using a line of credit from a bank/financial institution (3) originate loans using their own funds (4) bring the borrower and lender together in a transaction that they do not originate. Real Estate Agents: In most cases, Realtors refer borrowers to a lender or mortgage broker. They are paid a percentage of the sales price of a home. The seller pays a Realtors fee. Closing Agent: Closing agents perform property title searches and prepare documents for the actual closing of the sale of a home. Most closing agents are lawyers. The borrower pays for the closing agents fees. Mortgage Servicer: A servicer collects monthly mortgage payments and holds money in an escrow account to pay for property taxes and homeowners insurance. Mortgage Insurance Companies: Mortgage insurance companies are generally used if the borrowers down payment are less than twenty percent of the purchase price of the home. This is called PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). The cost of private mortgage insurance is included in a buyer's monthly payment.
What is happening is that there are some unethical lending practices that are threatening the housing industry as a whole. The concern involves the practices of some sub-prime lenders. These practices are considered to be "predatory" on consumers. Sub-prime lenders offer home loans (Equity Loans & 1st Time Home Purchase Loans) to moderate to lower income families. These clients are considered to be high credit risk borrowers, also know as B-C-D credit clients. Interest rates and other loan terms generally cost more than those paid by clients served by prime lenders with better credit records (A credit clients). Sub-prime borrowers end up paying more simply because the risk of loan repayment is fundamentally higher than that of a prime market borrower. These predatory practices include, but are not limited to:
Extremely high interest rates, discount points, closing costs, and broker fees.
Borrowers with inadequate income, receiving loans that they will default on.
Flippingoccurs when someone makes a new loan to refinance an already existing loan.
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