Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another Reason Not to Bail Out those Mortgages

From the New York Times:

IT’S NOT JUST THE LENDERS There has been plenty of talk about “predatory lending,” but “predatory borrowing” may have been the bigger problem. As much as 70 percent of recent early payment defaults had fraudulent misrepresentations on their original loan applications, according to one recent study. The research was done by BasePoint Analytics, which helps banks and lenders identify fraudulent transactions; the study looked at more than three million loans from 1997 to 2006, with a majority from 2005 to 2006. Applications with misrepresentations were also five times as likely to go into default.

Many of the frauds were simple rather than ingenious. In some cases, borrowers who were asked to state their incomes just lied, sometimes reporting five times actual income; other borrowers falsified income documents by using computers. Too often, mortgage originators and middlemen looked the other way rather than slowing down the process or insisting on adequate documentation of income and assets. As long as housing prices kept rising, it didn’t seem to matter.

In other words, many of the people now losing their homes committed fraud. And when a mortgage goes into default in its first year, the chance is high that there was fraud in the initial application, especially because unemployment in general has been low during the last two years.

When Congress and the Executive Branch figure out exactly how much taxpayer money to devote to people who made poor financial decisions, can we at least agree to rule out assistance to those who made material misrepresentations in their loan applications?

That's not the behavior the federal government ought to be encouraging.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely disagree with you. I work in a law firm and have seen dozens of foreclosures, all of which were sub-prime, high interest loans. In every single case, the appraiser inflated the value of the property by going over a mile to "fish" for property which sold at a higher price, and ignored comps in close proximity to the home. If the appraisal was done correctly, there would be no loan. Additionally, brokers were getting "YSP's" (yield spread premium) and not advising the borrower. Lenders changed applications on borrowers without notifying them as well. I am sure there are a "few" people who fudged their applications or income out of desperation, but the F.B.I. in Tampa said they get 50-75 calls a day re: mortgage fraud and predatory lending. So please get your facts straight - the appraisers, brokers and lenders are primarily the ones who caused this foreclosure mess and they should pay for it.