I originated mortgages full time for 5 years in the early 2000s. I worked for both mortgage brokers, who place loans with 3rd party lenders, and, as they are termed in New York, mortgage bankers, who are direct lenders. Up until recently, it was hard for a guy off the street to distinguish between the two- the mortgage application verbiage used and process, to the borrower, was pretty much the same. Even as a loan officer, I saw enormous parallels: the qualifying software was the same, and the rates and pay structure were similar. We either earned money on the front end paid directly by the borrower, often referred to as “points,” or were paid on the back end by the lender in the form of a Yield Spread Premium (YSP) for brokers or a Service Release Premium (SRP) for bankers. The nomenclature differed, but the net effect was the same: the higher the interest rate, the higher the commission (premium).
When the Subprime Meltdown hit in 2007 and the Financial Crisis hit in 2008, mortgage brokers carried the PR chum bucket for bad loans. Even though Ameriquest, Countrywide and dozens of other major players who were direct lenders failed, it was mortgage brokers, and their yield spread premiums that were often the culprit in both the cyber world and polite company. There were arguments over the true purpose of the YSP.
The banking industry and major media, in their best mad as hell voices, lobbied hard for YSP to be outlawed, and this past week, they succeeded. Yield Spread Premiums are now against the law.
From the Fed:
Today, lenders commonly pay loan originators more compensation if the borrower accepts an interest rate higher than the rate required by the lender (commonly referred to as a “yield spread premium”). Under the final rule, however, a loan originator may not receive compensation that is based on the interest rate or other loan terms. This will prevent loan originators from increasing their own compensation by raising the consumers’ loan costs, such as by increasing the interest rate or points. Loan originators can continue to receive compensation that is based on a percentage of the loan amount, which is a common practice.
As with many governmental “solutions,” this is outwardly politically expedient but will only hurt the public in the end. Why? Because the playing field is now completely tilted in the favor of large lenders, who keep their version of YSP. Smaller lending entities who previously dealt with brokers will be elbowed out of market share, and mortgage brokers now play by rules so severely tilted against them that they will go out of business. The baby has been thrown out with the bathwater, because brokerages, for all their flaws, were serving a need the bigger banks would often not.
The Service Release Premium, the banker’s equivalent to the Yield Spread Premium, is still legal. Direct lenders get to play by their own rules now. Whether you agree with the YSP or not, banks still have the back end option with SRP. Brokers, who often had the capacity to place a loan with literally dozens of lenders, do not. Whatever abuse there was with YSP is still available to lenders in the form of SRP. The lobbyists saw to that. It wasn’t enough that YSP was required to be disclosed on the HUD-1 while the bankers SRP was not; they had to kill it, and cut the jugular of brokers. Who needs competition?
Here’s how it plays out for the borrowers in 2011: If you have good credit and are a W-2 employee, you can call your own shots the same way it has always been. But if you are self employed, have less than great credit, or need a niche product in our diverse society, you’ll have no mortgage broker to find that specialty loan. Instead, you’ll have your choice between a large, monolithic lender’s single portfolio and a small community bank, both of whom will scoop the cream off the top and throw the rest back, with the exception of their Community Reinvestment Act requirements. There will be no mortgage broker to find your niche product because they won’t be able to operate profitably.
Banks already adjusted to the stupid things they were doing 5 years ago. Underwriting a loan now is as hard as it ever was prior to the Federal Housing Administration’s genesis in the 1930s. We are rapidly heading toward a world where large big box lenders will be like huge telecoms, with consumers choosing either their loan portfolio or renting. Smaller community banks will be there for well credentialed people, and ironically, the folks who screamed about killing those evil brokers who were opening doors the big banks wouldn’t open, will lament their extinction. Who loses? You. Big banks just did an end around past their most egregious offenses and the government played Washington General defense for us.