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Basel, QM and QRM – Disaster Averted, Mostly

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By Ken Trepeta

Critical issues remain with the calculation of fees and points that hopefully will be addressed by passage of H.R. 1077 and S. 949, “The Consumer Mortgage Choice Act.” CFPB did not feel they had Congressional authority to address what this legislation addresses, so it is up to Congress to end the discrimination in the calculation of fees and points.

Risk Retention/Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM)
The QRM, which requires 5 percent risk retention for securitized loans that do not meet the QRM standard, cannot be broader than the QM. The initial QRM proposal would have required a 20 percent down payment, debt-to-income ratios, and other factors that acted as a proxy for minimum credit scores. NAR organized a substantial coalition of consumer, industry, and civil rights groups to advocate for a much broader QRM. Indeed, NAR wrote to regulators in 2010 suggesting that QRM be aligned with a broad QM. While it is not finalized as of this writing, indications are that the QRM will be much more like the broad QM than it was proposed. This will be a victory for consumers and the housing industry alike.

Conclusion
In the fall of 2012, things were looking bleak. Since then, a lot has been done to improve the outlook. To be sure, many issues remain, including the end of quantitative easing and very low rates, the potential for damaging changes to FHA and the GSEs, and tax reform that reduces or eliminates homeownership deductions for mortgage interest and/or state and local taxes, among other things. We must remain vigilant on these critical issues and also make sure QM, QRM and Basel III are further improved.

Ken Trepeta is the director of Real Estate Services, National Association of REALTORS®.

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