The bank is training the group as a way to increase lending without losing control of quality, according to Brad Blackwell, head of portfolio lending for the San Francisco-based lender. The group will review loans including those with terms that prevent them from qualifying for protections provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, under new rules, he said.
Wells Fargo, responsible for about one in five U.S. mortgages last year, is pushing the initiative to compete for clients seeking non-conventional loans such as those with interest-only payments. That segment will be increasingly sought-after at a time when rising interest rates are curbing borrowing demand and banks are facing the biggest regulatory overhaul since the Great Depression.
“As rates continue to rise and refinancing volume continues to contract, lenders are going to be looking for a way to keep their staffs busy,” said Erin Lantz, director of mortgages at Zillow Inc.
Congress directed the CFPB, formed as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, to create the qualified mortgage rule after banks were blamed for helping spark the 2008 credit crisis by giving mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them. The regulations provide a measure of legal protection to banks that meet guidelines and expose them to legal liabilities if the loans charge high fees or require total debt payments exceeding 43 percent of the borrower’s income.
“What you see happening on Jan. 10 is the most sweeping re-regulation of mortgage finance that I’ve seen,” said Pete Mills, senior vice president of residential policy at the Mortgage Bankers Association, whose home loan career started in 1983.
Unlike the loose lending practices of the last decade, most lenders now approve borrowers only after fully documenting their incomes and assets. At a time when government-backed loans account for 90 percent of the market, non-qualified mortgages can’t be insured by the Federal Housing Administration or sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the government-controlled enterprises that package home loans into bonds.
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