3 On Your Side: Consumer Watchdog Issues New Mortgage Rules

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – New federal rules were announced Thursday, designed to protect consumers from taking out home loans that they can’t afford. The new rules are an attempt by the government to curb risky mortgages.

A few years ago, it seemed like all you had to do was have a heartbeat and a bank would loan you hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a house. Fast forward to now, and it’s like pulling teeth to get a mortgage. These new rules seek out a middle ground by protecting both banks and consumers.

For the first time, federal regulators are laying out rules aimed at ensuring that mortgage borrowers can afford to repay the loans they take out. The rules unveiled by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau impose some new obligations and restrictions on lenders.

Among them:

  • Lenders will be required to verify and inspect a borrower’s financial records to ensure that they have sufficient assets or income to pay back the loan.
  • There will be limits on things like teaser rates that adjust upwards, large “balloon payments” that must be made at the end of the loan period, and interest-only loans.
  • The new rules also discourage lenders from saddling borrowers with debt payments totaling more than 43 percent of the person’s annual income including existing debts like credit cards and student loans.

Many of the rules will take effect beginning next January. But some will be rolled out over time, among them, a cap on how much debt consumers may take on.

For more information, visit: www.consumerfinance.gov.

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