On Tuesday, U.S. bank regulators submitted a proposal that would require lenders to originate mortgages with at least a 20 percent down payment if they want to repackage the loan to sell to other investors without keeping some of the risk on their books.  The bank regulators say this would create strong incentives for responsible lending and borrowing.

  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board and the Federal Reserve agreed to seek public comment on the proposal.  However, the rule is expected to have little near-term effect because loans sold to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA and VA loans would be exempt.  The U.S. government currently backs nearly 90 percent of home mortgages.
  • The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® oppose the proposal because the 20 percent down payment requirement is too high and would make it difficult for many people to purchase homes, causing further deceleration in the housing market.  Strong evidence shows that responsible lending standards and ensuring a borrower’s ability to repay have the greatest impact on reducing lender risk.
  • “We need to strike a balance between reducing investor risk and providing affordable mortgage credit,” said NAR President Ron Phipps.  “Better underwriting and credit quality standards have greatly reduced risk. Adding unnecessarily high minimum down payment requirements will only exclude hundreds of thousands of buyers from home ownership, despite their creditworthiness and proven ability to afford the monthly payment, because of the dramatic increase in the wealth required to purchase a home.”
  • Saving the necessary down payment has always been the principal obstacle to buyers seeking to purchase their first home. Proposals requiring high down payments will only drive more borrowers to FHA, increase costs for borrowers by raising interest rates and fees, and effectively price many eligible borrowers out of the housing market,” added Phipps.

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