January 2014 Mortgage Originators Survey

The qualified mortgage (QM) rule was implemented in January of 2014. The law is intended to protect consumers by strengthening underwriting standards, but some have argued that the rules will raise costs and reduce access for consumers. This survey queries a sample of mortgage lenders about the rule's impact on their business and how the rule could in turn impact consumers.

The Qualified Mortgage Rule and Its Impact

On Friday, January 10th, 2014, the requirements of the ability to repay and qualified mortgage (QM) rule went into effect. The Dodd-Frank act requires that originators make a good faith effort to verify a borrower's ability to repay their mortgage and imposes stiff penalties if they do not. The QM rule allows for varying degrees of assumed compliance with the ability to repay rule, which is advantageous to lenders as it allows them to minimize and to budget for potential penalties and litigation expenses. All mortgage applications received on or after January 10th are required to comply with the QM rule which includes full documentation of income, assets and employment, a maximum of 3% for points and fees, a cap of 43% on the back-end debt-to-income ratio, and limitations on the type of mortgage products that qualify and prepayment penalties among other requirements.

Key Findings

  • When asked about the extent of the QM rule’s impact, 55% of survey respondents indicated that the QM rule would affect 2.6% to 20% of their originations
Bar graph: Amount of purchase lending business will be affected by the new QM rule
  • The 3% cap on points and fees was the feature of the new rule that most concerned respondents as 60% indicated that they were "very concerned"
Stacked bar graph: Level of concern over main changes of QM rule
  • A strong majority of respondents indicated that they would defer to investors preferences on how to treat non-QM loans, but 45% indicated that they would not originate non-QM mortgages
Bar graph: Treatment of non-QM mortgages
  • Roughly a fifth of respondents did not know whether or not they would charge non-QM borrowers higher rates, but the most frequently cited change for prime and near-prime borrowers was an increase of 50 to 75 basis points and 150 basis points for sub-prime.
Bar graph: Rate rise in basis points for non-QM borrowers
  • Relative to 2013, respondents indicated a high reluctance to originate mortgages with non-QM features and their aversion toward originating non-QM loans increased as credit scores declined. They also indicated an elevated  reticence to originate mortgages that fit into the rebuttable presumption definition of the QM rule and even some hesitance to originate safe harbor QM mortgages.
Stacked bar graph: Willingness to originate mortgages in 2014 vs 2013
  • A significant share of respondents indicated that they would impose buffers in advance of the 43% back-end debt-to-income ratio, the 3% cap on points and fees, and the limitation on the annual percentage rate to within 150 basis points over the average prime offer for eligibility with the safe harbor definition of the QM
Pie chart: Imposition of buffer in advance of 3% cap on points and fees
  • In response to the new rule, the vast majority of respondents plan to increase staff and expenditures on compliance software. In addition, 11% will shutter affiliated title insurance or other companies.
Bar graph: Changes firm will make as a result of the QM rule
  • Finally, 16.7% of respondents indicated that they had already adapted to the rule, while 44.4% would be ready within three months. Nearly a third of respondents indicated that it would take three to six months before they had adapted, but all would be ready within one year.
Pie chart: Length of time for firm to adapt to new regulations

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Qualified Mortgage (QM)

The QM is a loan that on its face would meet the ability to repay standards and have certain features associated with "safe" lending.

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