What is Predatory Lending?
Federal law does not define “predatory” lending, and states define abusive
lending differently, however, predatory lending usually involves practices that
strip equity away from a homeowner.
Many experts agree that it is the result of a company misleading, tricking, and
sometimes coercing someone into taking out a home loan (typically a home
equity loan or mortgage refinancing) at excessive costs and without regard to
the homeowner’s ability to repay. Victims who have trouble repaying a predatory
loan often face harassing collection tactics or are encouraged to refinance the loan at even
Predatory Lending is intended to achieve abnormally high returns by taking advantage of
consumers. The term typically is to describe a combination of unfair or abusive loan terms,
unscrupulous & misleading marketing, & high pressure lending tactics that limit
information or choices available to a consumer.
Who Are Victims Of Predatory Lending?
Reports indicate that predatory lenders target consumers they believe are in
need of cash or are otherwise vulnerable. Examples include older people who
need money for medical bills or home repairs; moderate and middle-income
consumers who need to pay off credit card bills or consolidate other debts, and
lower-income or minority communities where there may be limited competition
from more reputable lenders.
Knowing the Terms of Predatory Lending
What is Subprime Lending?
Subprime Lending refers to lending to borrowers who do not qualify for “prime” rates –
Subprime Lending tends to be done primarily by nondepository institutions, either finance
companies or mortgage companies that are not subject to routine regulatory compliance
audits and connected with regulated financial institutions. These subprime lenders generally
raise money directly from bond or equity markets and make subprime loans.
Subprime as opposed to prime rate is also known as B and C lending. Due to credit
blemishes, these borrowers would not qualify for conventional loans. (Some 35% of
subprime borrowers qualified for prime-rate loans even though they were sold high-interest,
high-fee loans by subprime lenders.)
One distinguishes predatory lending from subprime lending by the features of the loan
(predatory – high-interest; high-fees, etc.), and most importantly, by whether the borrower
understands the terms of the loan.
-1- September 2, 2011
What is Loan Flipping?
The lender encourages you to repeatedly refinance the loan and often, to
borrow more money. Each time you refinance, you pay additional fees and
interest points. That only serves to increase your debt.
You’ve had your mortgage for years and the interest rate is low and the
monthly payments fit into your budget, but you could use some extra money.
A lender calls to talk about refinancing and using the availability of extra cash as “bait”. They
say it’s time your equity in your home started working for you. You agree to refinance your
loan. After you made a few payments, the lender calls to offer you a bigger loan, say for a
vacation. If you accept the offer, the lender refinances your original loan and then lends you
additional money. In this practice, often called “flipping”, the lender charges you high
points and fees each time you refinance and it may increase your interest rate as well. If the
loan has a prepayment penalty, you will have to pay that penalty each time you take out a
new loan. You have the extra money, but a lot more DEBT. (Additional costs and fees and
now paying interest on those extra fees.)
What is Property Flipping?
Property flipping is an elaborate scam in which unsuspecting first-time homebuyers are sold
houses in serious states of disrepair for prices far above what the houses are actually
The typical “property flip” begins with an investor or real estate company
purchasing a distressed property for as little as a couple of thousand
dollars. After doing minimal cosmetic or even no work to the property, the
owner finds a buyer, frequently targeting low-income minority families.
The buyers have no agent representation of their own and no real estate
knowledge, putting them at the mercy of the seller/owner. The
seller/owner abuses this position by lying about the condition of the house,
promising to make visibly-needed repairs, setting the sales price at far above the
property’s actual value, and referring the buyer to a subprime lender or broker.
What is Equity Stripping?
The lender gives you a loan, based on the equity in your home, not on your ability to repay
based on your income. If you can’t make the payments, you could end up losing your home
as well as stripping you of your equity.
What is Bait & Switch?
The lender offers one set of loan terms when you apply, then pressures you to accept
higher charges when you sign to complete the transaction. In other words, a “teaser” rate
is offered to the borrower, but the lender switches the rate at the time of closing.
-2- September 2, 2011
What is Credit Insurance Packaging?
Credit insurance is insurance linked to a specific debt or loan which will pay off that
particular debt if the borrower loses the ability to pay either because of sickness (credit
health insurance), death (credit life insurance), or losing their job (credit unemployment
insurance). The lender adds credit insurance to your loan, which you may not need.
What is Steering?
Deliberately putting borrowers with good credit into loans with high interest rates – away
from more affordable options. A good percentage of borrowers are unknowingly moved into
the subprime bracket.
What are Balloon Payments?
Basically, it is a lump-sum payment that may be required when the plan ends. It
is the final payment of a mortgage, which is larger than the regular payment.
Mortgages with balloon payments are arranged so that after making a certain number of
regular payments (often 5 to 7 years worth, sometimes 15), the borrower must pay off the
remaining loan balance in its entirety, in one “balloon payment”. About 10% of subprime
loans have balloon payments.
What are High/Excessive Fees?
High or excessive fees are usually inflated origination & broker fees; inflated and “junk fees”.
What are Home Improvement Scams?
A home improvement contractor arranges the mortgage loan for repairs, often charging the
borrower for incomplete or shoddy work. Some contractors work together with lenders and
brokers to take advantage of homeowners who need to make repairs. They get the
homeowner to take out a high-interest, high-fee loan to pay for the work, and then the
lender pays the contractor directly. Too often, the work is not done properly or even at all.
Get several bids from different home improvement contractors. Don’t get talked into
borrowing more money than you need.
Check with the Attorney General’s office to see if they have received any complaints
about the contractor.
Don’t let a contractor refer you to a specific lender to pay for the work. Shop around with
different lenders in order to make sure that you are getting the best possible loan.
Make sure any check written for home improvement is not written directly to the
contractor. It should be in your name only or written to both you and the contractor, and
you should not sign over the money until you are satisfied with the work they have
-3- September 2, 2011
What is Packing?
Lenders charge excessive, duplicative and often unjustified fees that constitute
from 5% to 20% of the total loan amount. Another form of packing is when the
lender sells the borrower unnecessary credit life or credit disability insurance,
and finances the premiums over the life of the loan.
What is Mandatory Arbitration?
Some predatory lenders include mandatory arbitration clauses in their home loans. Signing
these means giving up your right to sue in court if the lender does something you believe is
Charging Higher Interest Rates?
While the higher interest rates charged by subprime lenders are
intended to compensate lenders for taking a greater credit risk, too
many borrowers are unnecessarily paying higher interest rates.
Borrowers with perfect credit are regularly charged interest rates 3 to 6 points
higher than the market rates; with some subprime lenders, there simply is no lower rate, no
matter how good the credit. According to a rate sheet used by the Associates in the spring
of 2000, their lower interest rate for a borrower with excellent credit and a low loan-to-value
ratio was over 10% and during a similar period household borrowers with excellent credit
were seeing rates above 11%. And for borrowers with imperfect credit, rates are frequently
much higher than even somewhat blemished credit would reasonably warrant, as well as for
what the industry describes as standard rates for B, C, or D borrowers.
Aggressive & Deceptive Marketing – the Use of Live Checks in the Mail?
Much of the competition between lenders in the subprime industry is not based on
the rates or terms offered by the different lenders, but on which lender
can reach and “hook” the borrower first. Predatory lenders employ a
sophisticated combination of “high tech” and “high touch” methods, using
of multiple lists and detailed research to identify particularly susceptible
borrowers (minority, low-income, and elderly homeowners) and then mailing,
phoning, and even visiting the potential borrowers in their homes to encourage
them to take out a loan.
One of the methods used routinely and successfully by predatory lenders such as
Household is the practice of sending “live checks” in the mail to target homeowners. The
checks are usually for several thousand dollars and the cashing or depositing of the check
means the borrower is entering into a loan agreement with the lender.
-4- September 2, 2011
What is Yield Spread Premiums?
A yield spread premium is compensation from a lender to a mortgage broker
for the broker’s success in getting the borrower to accept a higher interest
rate or more fees than the lender would have given the borrower at their
standard or “par” rate. Yield spread premiums create an obvious incentive
for brokers to make loans with the highest interest rates and fees possible,
regardless of whether the borrower could qualify for better terms.
Who Is At Risk From Predatory Lending Practices?
Many times abusive or “predatory” lenders target people who are
strapped for cash – often preying on the elderly and people in lower
income groups. Homeowners can be tricked into taking out loans that
they cannot afford to repay. Some homeowners may even lose their
homes to foreclosure.
Subprime lenders target homeowners who are “cash-poor, but equity-rich”.
These homeowners are the main targets for predatory lenders. With limited or fixed-
incomes, many of these homeowners are “cash-poor” even though they are “asset-
rich”. When faced with large or unexpected bills for medical expenses or repairs on
their older homes, these elderly homeowners have little choice but to tap into their
home’s equity. The following is an example for the “perfect customer” according to an
ex-employee of one subprime lender:
Uneducated widow who is on a fixed income-hopefully from her deceased
husband’s pension and social security;
Who has her home paid off, is living off of credit cards, but having a difficult time
making payments; and
Who must make a car payment in addition to her credit card payments?
Many of these lenders, who are considered high-risk borrowers, are often low-income
and/or have poor credit. Typically, many are uneducated about financial issues.
Predatory lending can harm not only individuals, but financial institutions and
communities as well.
-5- September 2, 2011
To Determine If A Loan Is Predatory In Nature, Ask Yourself
Does your past credit history justify the high rate and fees
Is the loan being made on the basis of your ability to repay the
loan and not solely on the value of the property?
Have the loan’s terms been fairly represented & explained to
Does the type of loan & the loan services provided meet your
needs & interests?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, there is a possibility the loan is predatory
How to Spot a Predatory Loan
Abusive or predatory lending practices can include:
Monthly Payments You Can’t Afford - Making loans without regard to the borrower’s
ability to repay
Flipping - Repeatedly refinancing a loan within a short period of time and charging high
points and fees with each refinance
Rates & Fees - Charging excessive rates and fees to a borrower who qualifies for lower
rates and/or fees offered by the lender
Packing a loan with extra charges or products such as single premium credit insurance
products, and not adequately disclosing the inclusion, cost or any additional fees
associated with the insurance.
Aggressive & Deceptive Marketing through the use of “live check” in the mail – the
loan has an artificially high interest rate and monthly payment in order for the predatory
lender to be able to offer the homeowner an opportunity to refinance it, along with other
debts, into another loan.
Excessive prepayment penalties - Penalties for early pay-off of the loan
Negative Amortization – the monthly payment on the loan is insufficient to pay off
accrued interest and therefore increase the principal balance, resulting in a situation
where the borrower actually owes more than the amount originally borrowed.
Balloon Payments – This is a large payment usually at the end of the loan – Often after
a series of low monthly payments
Making Loans in Excess of 100% loan to value (LTV) – where the loan amount
exceeds the fair market (appraised) value of the home. This can be dangerous because
it makes it difficult for the borrower to refinance the loan or sell the house to pay off the
loan. In addition, if the borrower defaults on the loan, a foreclosure sale may not
generate enough to pay off the loan and the borrower could be subject to a deficiency
-6- September 2, 2011
The Tricks of Predatory Lending
#1 – Selling the Monthly Payment
When dealing with loans, it is a mistake to focus exclusively on the monthly
payment – it’s not the whole story.
What is the loan’s interest rate & other finance charges as shown by its
annual percentage rate (APR)?
How long will it last and how much will it cost in total payments?
Will the regular monthly payments pay it off, or is there one large balloon payment at the
Is there a risk of the interest rate going up, and how will that affect the monthly payment?
In addition, when comparing claims of savings over your current mortgage payments,
include the cost of setting aside the property taxes and home insurance if these costs are
currently part of your monthly payments.
#2 – Flipping by Repeated Financing
This trick usually targets a person who has already been overcharged by
the same lender or broker.
It is an offer to refinance a high cost/high rate loan at a slightly lower rate
than the one they arranged for the borrower within the past year or so.
The catch is that the borrower is again charged, or more likely
overcharged, for all Loan Origination fees, Broker Fees, Points, & Other
#3 – Growing the Debt
Just what is says – you borrow a small amount of money, and then the lender
approaches you about borrowing MORE money.
Home Improvement Scams are good at growing the debt.
#4 – Equity Stripping
The lender is using your home as payment when you may not be able to repay the loan
according to your actual income.
-7- September 2, 2011
Tips to Avoid a Predatory Loan
Always shop around – Only deal with licensed mortgage lenders and
brokers to those operating under and subject to federal and state
Read and get copies of everything you sign in connection with your mortgage.
If you don’t understand the loan terms, talk to someone you trust to look at the
documents for you.
Don’t trust ads promising, “No Credit? No Problem!” If a deal seems too good to be true,
it probably is!
Ignore high-pressure sales tactics – Beware of “Bait & Switch” where the lender or
broker makes an offer with one set of terms and then pressures you to sign a loan with
more expensive rates and hidden costs.
Make sure your monthly payments are affordable, and that you are NOT
comparing apples to oranges when looking at the old vs. the new
payment. Be sure that if the escrow of taxes and insurance is part of
your old payment, it is included in your new payment when comparing
Don’t take the first loan you are offered.
Make sure the rate and terms quoted by your lender and/or broker are given to you
in writing and do not significantly vary from those presented at closing.
Remember that a low monthly payment isn’t always a “deal”. Look at the TOTAL cost
of the loan.
Do NOT shop based solely on lower mortgage payments. Payments may be lower if
the loan has a balloon payment or a variable rate. Unless you expect falling mortgage
rates, a higher income or a better credit rating in the future, these loans eventually cost
Be wary of promises to refinance the loan to a better rate in the future.
Never sign a blank document or anything the lender promised to fill in later.
Forms should be completely filled out with no blank boxes or spaces.
Beware of door-to-door home improvement offers where the contractor
offers to find you the necessary financing to make the improvements.
-8- September 2, 2011
Tips to Avoid a Predatory Loan
Do not fall for scams from out-of-state businesses claiming
to arrange mortgage loans for an advance fee or with the
advance purchase of special loan insurance. Sending them a
money order to the post office box or mail drop will likely be the last
time you see your money.
Never falsely state or allow others to falsely state your income. You
won’t have your dream home very long if you can’t afford to make the payments.
Borrow only what you need and can afford to pay back. If you need $5,000 to pay for
a home improvement, there is little sense in refinancing your existing mortgage and
paying $6,000 in closing fees to arrange the loan.
Remain current on your present mortgage obligations until closing and disbursement
of new loan proceeds. If you are paying other debts off as part of the loan, remain
current on them as well. Falling behind on your current debt while waiting to get your
new loan will hurt you in the long run.
Understand that if you consolidate your credit card debt and other
consumer debt into your mortgage or home equity line of credit to have
one lower overall monthly payment, nonpayment of the loan could
cause you to lose your home. Also, any monthly savings will disappear if
you accumulate credit card debit again.
Know your credit rating and qualify for the loan you deserve. There is
no reason to pay high rates and fees if you can qualify for better terms.
Do NOT deed your property to anyone. First consult an attorney, a knowledgeable
family member or someone else you trust.
Ask specifically if credit insurance is required as a condition of the loan. If
it isn’t, and a charge is included in your loan and you don’t want the
insurance, ask that the charge be removed from the loan documents. If you
want the security of credit insurance, shop around for the best rates.
Keep careful records of what you’ve paid, including billing statements and canceled
checks. Challenge any charge you think is inaccurate.
Check contractors’ references when it is time to have work done in your home. Get
more than one estimate.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Never act too quickly.
-9- September 2, 2011
Read carefully before you sign
Know Your Contract
Know the Amount Financed
Know the Finance Charge & the Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
APR – the percentage cost of credit on a yearly basis, which is your key to
comparing costs, regardless of the amount of credit or how long you have to repay
it. APR takes into account not only the interest rate, but also the points, mortgage
broker fees and certain other fees that you have to pay.
Finance Charge – Total dollar amount you pay to use credit. It is
based on the interest and fees charged, the amount borrowed
and the length of the loan.
Federal law requires that the creditor tell you – in writing and
before you sign any agreement – what these terms will be.
Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement – will show you the APR and other
payment information for the loan you have applied for.
Know if You are Paying “Points”
Points are fees that affect your interest cost which are paid to the lender for the
loan. One point equals 1% of the loan amount. In some cases, the money
needed to pay points can be borrowed, but doing so will increase the loan amount
and the total costs. Ask for points to be quoted to you as a dollar amount rather
than the number of points, so that you will actually know how much you will have
Know the Total Number & Exact Dollar Amount of Each Payment
Know the Payment Date
Know about Collateral
-10- September 2, 2011
What You Can Do?
Various federal laws help protect consumers from certain predatory lending practices.
The Truth in Lending Act
Requires lenders to provide timely information about loan terms
and costs. Under TILA, the failure to provide timely and accurate
disclosures of the cost of mortgage credit may result in
mandatory administrative reimbursement of excess finance
charges; statutory damages and other civil liability; and the
borrower’s right to rescind the entire transaction.
“Right of Rescission”
You have the right to cancel a home equity loan and certain other loans secured by a
home up to three business days after signing the loan contract.
Home Ownership & Equity Protection Act - HOEPA
High cost mortgage loans originated through brokers or by third-party lenders must
comply with the substantive protections and disclosure requirements set forth in the
Home Ownership & Equity Protection Act. HOEPA prohibits creditors from engaging in
a pattern or practice of making certain high-cost loans based on the homeowner’s equity
without regard to repayment ability. Substantive protections of HOEPA also restrict
many of the other loan terms and structures often cited in discussions of predatory
lending practices, including refinancing that may constitute loan flipping; payments to
home improvement contractors; balloon payments; prepayment penalties; and negative
amortization. Civil liability for HOEPA violations may include restitution of all the finance
charges and fees paid by the consumer.
Fair Lending Laws
Predatory lending practices can also raise fair lending concerns.
Predatory lenders often target identifiable groups of consumers that are
(or are perceived to be) less financially sophisticated, currently have less
access to mainstream lenders, or are otherwise vulnerable to abusive
practices. If this targeting is based on age, race, national origin, gender,
or other prohibited bases under the law, the abusive practices may
represent violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) or the
Fair Housing Act. Even if such targeting has been performed directly by
a mortgage broker in soliciting applications, the creditor making the loan
could nevertheless be subjected to civil lawsuits and government
enforcement actions. ECOA also provides for successor liability by defining the term
“creditor” to include “any assignee of an original credit who participates in the decision to
extend, renew or continue credit”.
-11- September 2, 2011
Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act)
Predatory loans may involve violations of the FTC Act, which
make unlawful “unfair or deceptive acts or practices”.
Practices involving fraud, misleading conduct, or material
omissions of information concerning costs, risks or other
terms and conditions may violate the prohibition against
deception. Under relevant precedents, this prohibition is
violated by representations, omissions, acts or practices that
are material are likely to mislead a reasonable consumer in
the audience targeted by the advertisement or other practice.
Loans with unconscionable terms may also involve violations of the prohibition against
unfair acts or practices. Evidence of practices such as loan flipping, equity stripping, or
the refinancing of loans made under governmental or nonprofit programs with terms
unfavorable to the borrower may be indicative of unfair or deceptive practices that violate
the FTC Act.
The State of Illinois, Office of Banks & Real Estate and the Department of Financial
Institutions have developed the Mortgage Awareness Program (MAP), which is a
counseling and education component.
The Core Curriculum of the MAP should include:
Explanation of the Amount Financed
Explanation of the Finance Charge
Explanation of the Annual Percentage Rate
Explanation of the Total Payments
Explanation of the Loan Costs, including Broker’s Fees, Finance Charges, Points,
Explanation of the Right of Rescission
Explanation of Foreclosure Procedures
Explanation of the Significant Debt Ratios, including Total Debt to Income, Loan
Debt to Income & Loan Debt to Value of Residence
Explanation of Adjustable Rate Mortgage
Explanation of Balloon Payments
Explanation of Credit Options
Explanation of Each Item That Appears on a Good Faith Estimate
Explanation of Pre-payment Penalties
Counseling session attendees must also complete a personal income & expense
statement, as well as a balance sheet, on forms provided by OBRE.
Counselors shall privately discuss with each attendee that attendee’s income &
expense statement and balance sheet, as well as the terms of any loan the attendee
currently has or may be contemplating and provide a third-party review to establish the
affordability of the loan.
-12- September 2, 2011
MAP Program (continued)
Counseling session attendees must be given a brochure that contains information
covered by the Mortgage Awareness Program.
Any lender, prior to making a high-risk home loan, shall inform the borrower in writing
of the right to participate in the Mortgage Awareness Program.
No Lender shall offer less favorable loan terms to a borrower due to a borrower’s
participation in the Mortgage Awareness Program.
The Borrower may waive participation in this program, provided that such waiver
occurs no less than 2 business days after the day that the borrower receives the
written notice required by the lender and that such waiver is in writing in a form
approved by the Commissioner.
Be a SMART Consumer
Shop around for the best loan. Visit several reputable lenders.
Compare interest rates, fees and points, and examine all the terms
of the loan. Talk with family, friends, and neighbors about
where they obtained their mortgages and their experiences.
Manage your money. A person’s credit history is his or her
own responsibility. Review your income and expenses and borrow
within your budget. Don’t inflate your earnings or provide other false
information to qualify for a loan. Don’t become house poor. Remember there are more costs
associated with buying a house than the mortgage cost.
Ask questions about the terms of the loan. Check the contract to confirm that the terms you
have discussed are clearly written in the loan documents.
Read the entire mortgage contract carefully. Make sure you fully understand
your obligations and all provisions of the contract before signing. Never sign
a blank form or sign one with information that is incorrect.
Talk to a knowledgeable and trusted financial consultant or attorney of
your own choosing prior to signing a loan agreement. Remember,
never allow yourself to be pressured to sign a contract that you are
uncomfortable with or do not understand. Understand your right to
cancel the loan application.
-13- September 2, 2011
Agencies that Can Help
Agency Description Phone Number Website
State Agency 877.793.3470
Office of Banks & www.obre.state.il.us
Consumer Services Line:
Department of State Agency
Financial 888.298.8089 www.state.il.us/dfi
Illinois Attorney State Agency
Federal Trade Works to prevent unfair business
Commission practices 877.382.4357 www.ftc.gov
Clearinghouse for free & low-cost
booklets published by various
federal agencies on topics such as 888.878.3256 www.pueblo.gsa.gov
getting a mortgage or home equity
Supervises and regulates banking
institutions to ensure the safety
and soundness of the nation’s
Federal Reserve www.federalreserve.gov
financial & banking system and
protect the credit rights of
Enforces fair lending practices
U.S. Dept. of involving home loans backed by
Housing & Urban the federal government; HUD also
Development maintains a list of approved
(HUD) housing counseling agencies that
can give advice.
Association of A HUD-certified housing
877.692.0233 or e-mail
Community counseling Agency & community
them at www.acorn.org
Organizations for organization of low and moderate-
Reform (ACORN) income families.
-14- September 2, 2011
Glossary of Terms
Adjustable-Rate Loans: Also known as variable-rate loans, usually offer a lower initial interest rate than fixed-
rate loans, The interest rate fluctuates over the life of the loan based on market conditions, but the loan
agreement generally sets maximum and minimum rates. When interest rates rise, generally so do your loan
payments; and when interest rates fall, your monthly payments may be lowered.
Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs): ARMs that only adjust up, increasing a borrower's interest rate and
monthly payment as often as every six months.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): The annual percentage rate (APR) is the cost of credit shown as a yearly rate.
Although the APR is not a calculation of your monthly payment, it does show how much a loan will cost including
all fees and points.
Application Fee: Fees that are paid upon application. May include charges for property appraisal and a credit
Appraisal: A determination of the value of a home by a third party who is hired by the lender to assure the
home has enough value to pay off the loan should the borrower default. Beware of inflated appraisals,
particularly when a second appraisal has to be conducted because the first one was too low to justify the loan.
Bait-and-Switch Schemes: The lender may promise one type of loan or interest rate, but without good reason,
gives you a different one. Sometimes a higher (and unaffordable) interest rate doesn’t kick in until months after
you have begun to pay on your loan.
Balloon Payment: The final payment of a mortgage which is larger than the regular payment; it usually
extinguishes the debt.
Conventional Loans: Mortgage loans other than those insured or guaranteed by a government agency such as
the FHA (Federal Housing Administration), the VA (Veterans Administration), or the Rural Development
Services (formerly knows as Farmers Home Administration, or FmHA).
Credit Insurance Packing: The lender adds credit insurance to your loan, which you may not need.
Deceptive Loan Servicing: The lender doesn’t provide you with accurate or complete account statements and
payoff figures. That makes it almost impossible for you to determine how much you have paid or how much you
Equity Stripping: The lender encourages you to borrow heavily from the equity in your home (the amount you
own free and clear of your mortgage) as an easy way to get additional money, consolidate debt or fund home
repairs, knowing that the fees and payments are so high you may not be able to make them. You dramatically
reduce your equity and, in the worst case, the lender forecloses on the loan, takes possession of your home,
and strips you of the equity.
Equity: Difference between market value of the property & the homeowners mortgage debt.
Escrow: Holding of money or documents by a neutral third party prior to closing. It can also be an account held
by the lender (or servicer) into which a homeowner pays money for taxes and insurance.
Excessive Foreclosures: Making loans without regard to a borrower’s ability to repay. Homeowners
struggling to make payments under the combined weight of excessive fees and high interest rates often pay the
ultimate price – the loss of their home and all the equity they had accumulated in it.
Excessive Mortgage Broker Compensation: In the subprime market, there are mortgage brokers who will
attempt to sell the borrower on a loan with the most fees and highest interest rate possible so that he/she will
get more compensation.
-15- September 2, 2011
Glossary of Terms
Excessive Points & Fees: Most borrowers can expect a pay a 1% origination fee and possibly another 1% of
the loan amount in points, as well as basic closing costs, which would include appraisal and attorney’s fees.
Some predatory lenders loan up loans with these upfront charges and charge additional “junk fees” to pad the
Finance Charge – Total dollar amount you pay to use credit. It is based on the interest and fees charged, the
amount borrowed and the length of the loan.
Fixed-Rate Loans: Generally have repayment terms of 15, 20, or 30 years. Both the interest rate and the
monthly payments (for principal and interest) stay the same during the life of the loan.
High fees: Inflated origination & broker fees; inflated & "junk fees."
Home Improvement Scams: A contractor talks you into costly or unnecessary repairs, steers you to a high-cost
mortgage lender to finance the job, and arranges for the loan proceeds to be sent directly to the contractor. All
too often, the contractor performs shoddy or incomplete work, and the homeowner is stuck paying off a long-
term loan where the house is at risk.
Interest Rate: The cost of borrowing money expressed as a percentage rate. Interest rates can change
because of market conditions.
Lending without ability to repay: Making a loan based on the equity that the borrower has in the home,
without regard to the borrower's ability to repay the loan.
Loan Flipping: The lender encourages you to get additional cash by refinancing your mortgage again and
again. This tactic significantly increases your debt because fees (often exorbitant) are tacked on to each loan
transaction, and you may pay a higher interest rate than with your original loan. You become saddled with
higher payments, higher debt, and the risk of losing your home.
Loan Origination Fees: Fees charged by the lender for processing the loan and are often expressed as
percentage of the loan amount.
Loan Packing: The lender adds charges to the loan contract for overpriced items or items you don’t need or
didn’t use, often totaling thousands of dollars. Examples: The lender may pressure you into buying insurance
you don’t need or trick you into paying for phony services.
Lock-In: Refers to a written agreement guaranteeing a homebuyer a specific interest rate on a home loan
provided that the loan is closed within a certain period of time, such as 60 or 90 days. Often the agreement also
specifies the number of points to be paid at closing.
Margin: The number of percentage points the lender adds to the index rate to determine the annual percentage
Mortgage: A document signed by a borrower when a home loan is made that gives the lender a right to take
possession of the property if the borrower fails to pay off on the loan.
Mortgage Broker: A bank, savings institution, or mortgage company that offers home loans.
Mortgage Lender: An individual or firm that matches borrowers to lenders and loan programs for a fee.
Anyone who acts as a go-between and gets a fee or other compensation.
Mortgage Servicing Abuses/Scams: After getting the loan, you’re told you own additional money for bogus
taxes, insurance, legal fee or late fees. Or, if you try to pay off the loan, the lender provides inaccurate
information that causes you to pay too much or discourages you from refinancing with another lender.
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Glossary of Terms
Negative Amortization: Amortization means the monthly payments are large enough to pay the interest and
reduce the principal on your mortgage. Negative amortization occurs when the monthly payments do not cover
all the interest cost. The interest cost, which is not covered by the payment, is added to the unpaid principal
balance. This means that even after making many payments, you could owe more than you did at the beginning
of the loan.
Overages: The difference between the lowest available price and any higher price that the homebuyer agrees
to pay for the loan. Loan officers and brokers are often allowed to keep some or all of this difference as extra
Packing: Including overpriced insurance such as credit life, disability, and unemployment insurance. The lender
finances the insurance as part of the loan, instead of charging periodic premiums outside of the loan.
Points: Fees paid to the lender for the loan. Points are usually paid in cash at closing. In some cases, the
money needed to pay points can be borrowed, but doing so will increase the loan amount and the total costs. A
point is equal to 1% of the loan amount you are borrowing. Assume a $60,000 mortgage loan with 1 point; one
point means you will pay $600 in addition to the interest and any other fees associated with the loan.
Points: One point is equal to 1 percent of the amount of the credit line. Points must usually be paid at closing
and are in addition to monthly interest.
Prepayment Penalties: Huge fees charged when a borrower pays off the loan early or refinances into another
loan. Prepayment penalties are designed to lock borrowers into high-interest loans.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): Protects the lender against a loss if a borrower defaults on the loan. It is
usually required for loans in which the down payment is less than 20 percent of the sales price, or in a
refinancing, when the amount financed is greater than 80 percent of the appraised value.
Rate-Risk Disparities: Charging borrowers a higher rate of interest than their credit histories would indicate is
justified – often either by the lenders or its affiliate’s own underwriting criteria.
Sell the Monthly Payment: Many brokers and lenders advertise “bill consolidation” home equity loans.
Predatory Lenders encourage consumers to pay off all their debts by consolidating them into one home loan
with the promise to reduce the monthly debt payment.
Signing Over the Deed: Another lender may contact you when are in trouble of foreclosure, and offer to help
you find new financing. Before they can help you, they ask you to deed your property to them, claiming it’s a
temporary measure to prevent foreclosure. The promised refinancing that would let you save your home never
Steering: Charging high, subprime interest rates (9-20%) on borrower's that have well enough credit to qualify
for prime-rate loans (8-9%).
Subprime Lending: generally characterized as a lending program or strategy that targets borrowers who pose
a significantly higher risk of default than traditional retail banking customers. Institutions often refer to subprime
lending by other names such as the nonprime, nonconforming, high coupon, or alternative lending market. It is a
high-risk lending activity.
Subprime refers to the credit characteristics of the borrower at the loan’s origination, rather than the type of
credit or collateral considerations. Subprime borrowers typically have weakened credit histories that include
payment delinquencies, and possibly more severe problems such as charge-offs, judgments, and bankruptcies.
They may also display reduced repayment capacity as measure by credit scores, debt-to-income ratios, or other
criteria. Generally, subprime borrowers will display a range of credit risk characteristics that may include one or
more of the following:
Two or more 30-day delinquencies in the last 12 months, or one or more 60-day delinquencies in the
last 24 months.
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Glossary of Terms
Judgment, foreclosure, repossession, charge-off in the prior 24 months.
Bankruptcy in the last 5 years
Relatively high default probability as evidenced by, for example, a credit bureau risk score (FICO) of
660 or below (depending on the product/collateral), or other bureau or proprietary scores with an
equivalent default probability likelihood; and/or
Debt service-to-income ratio of 50% or greater, or otherwise limited ability to cover family living
expenses after deducting total monthly debt-service requirements from monthly income.
Thrift Institution: A general term for saving banks and savings and loan associations.
Transaction, Settlement, or Closing Costs: May include application fees; title examination, abstract of title,
title insurance, and property survey fees; fees for preparing deeds, mortgages, and settlement documents;
attorney’s fees; recording fees; and notary, appraisal, and credit report fees. Under the Real Estate Settlement
Procedures Act, the borrower receives a good faith estimate of closing costs at the time of application or within
three days of application. The good faith estimate lists each expected cost either as an amount or a range.
Transaction Fee: A fee charged each time you draw on your credit line.
Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement – This document will show you the APR and other payment
information for the loan you have applied for.
Yield Spread Premium: Payment to the broker for selling a higher interest rate loan than would otherwise be
charged for that borrower.
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