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New Mortgage Rules to Be Finalized Oct. 22

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Three years later, the government is finally set to reveal its new requirements for mortgages, and much has changed in the interim.

The government is set to finalize the final piece of its post-bubble mortgage regulations on Oct. 22, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.

The regulations will include broad exemptions for banks and other issuers of mortgage-backed securities, and will not include any kind of down payment requirement, which was part of the government’s original (and highly controversial) proposal.

A Win for Industry Groups

When the government first announced its mortgage regulations back in 2011, the intention was to avoid another housing bubble through tighter standards for mortgage lending and stricter requirements on banks.

If lending institutions wanted government guarantees via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the regulations stipulated, their loans would require a 20 percent down payment from borrowers; either that, or the lender would have to hold 5 percent of the loan’s risk. So either through higher standards on lenders or “skin in the game” requirements on banks, another housing bubble would fail to materialize.

The regulations, though, proved hugely controversial with real estate trade groups, and in the ensuing three years, lobbying efforts have convinced government regulators to reform the rules to the anticipated levels.

A SEC-Style Qualifier

Still, a fail-safe of sorts has been put in place, in the event that the mortgage regulations prove too lax.

The SEC, according to the Journal, disagreed with the looser direction of the government’s regulations, and the agency won a concession in the form of a two-year reevaluation; once the regulations go into effect, the government will review the rules in two years (and every five years after that), to ensure that they are still regulating mortgages in a responsible manner.

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