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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB discusses mortgage financing risk options in current environment

Federal Issues CFPB Mortgages Interest Rate Consumer Finance HMDA

Federal Issues

On December 21, the CFPB reported that higher mortgage interest rates have led to increased monthly payments and higher debt-to-income ratios for borrowers. According to a recent Bureau analysis of quarterly HMDA data, some interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have risen as high as seven percent and are at levels higher than what has been seen for nearly 20 years. The Bureau reported that in response to increasing interest rates, financial service providers are offering alternative financing options to provide opportunities for consumers to access lower rates, including adjustable-rate mortgages, temporary buydowns, home equity lines of credit and loans, and loan assumptions where a homebuyer assumes responsibility for the remaining balance of a home seller’s mortgage with the original loan terms. Explaining the various risks associated with these offerings, the Bureau warned consumers that they should understand the costs associated with cash-out refinances and risks related to alternative sales transactions (e.g., contract-for-deeds or land contracts, rent-to-own arrangements, and equity-sharing arrangements), which may sound appealing in a higher interest rate market but may “lack the protections of traditional mortgages, including the ability to build and access home equity, foreclosure protections, or even basic disclosures that allow for comparison shopping.”