From the New York Times
The Obama administration plans to move quickly to tighten the nation’s financial regulatory system. Officials say they will make wide-ranging changes, including stricter federal rules for hedge funds, credit rating agencies and mortgage brokers, and greater oversight of the complex financial instruments that contributed to the economic crisis.
Aides said they would propose new federal standards for mortgage brokers who issued many unsuitable loans and are largely regulated by state officials. They are considering proposals to have the S.E.C. become more involved in supervising the underwriting standards of securities that are backed by mortgages.
None of this should be a surprise for regular readers of Raincityguide. I’ve been talking about tighter rules for mortgage brokers since 2001 and here on RCG for two years. Mortgage brokers will always argue that they are already tightly regulated. In some states, brokers have tougher regulations than consumer loan companies. Hey, wait a minute. Is President Obama going to let the consumer loan companies slide by without proposing tougher regulations for them as well? The top two largest predatory lending lawsuits were against consumer loan lenders Household Finance and Ameriquest. Both companies settled out of court and “admitted no wrongdoing” even though there was lots of evidence that their sales people were meticulously trained by management on how to do wrong.
Maybe tougher minimum sanctions and penalties are in order as well. We must also realize that these new regulations mean nothing without enforcement. I would rather see the states be in charge of enforcement than the federal government (well, with the exception of Florida where they have proven their supreme incompetence.) We need only to look at RESPA and the miserable job HUD has done trying to enforce this massive piece of regulation since 1975. So if it’s going to be up to the states, then the industry should prepare for a higher cost of doing business as a mortgage broker or consumer loan lender. This will be passed on to the consumer in the way of higher fees, rates, or both.