Qualified Mortgage (QM) and Ability to Repay rules are in effect on loan applications received on or after January 10, 2014. Part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the new rules are designed to protect buyers from purchasing homes they can’t afford and provide lenders protection from liability when originating loans that meet the Qualified Mortgage standard.
What is a Qualified Mortgage?
A qualified mortgage is a home loan that has:
• Regular periodic payments in substantially equal amounts
• Been underwritten based on a fully amortizing payment schedule using the maximum rate allowable for the first five years after the date of the first periodic payment
• Verified the borrower’s income and assets; and current debts, including alimony and child support
• A borrower’s total debt-to-income ratio of no more than 43% (see “Temporary QM” for exceptions to this requirement)
• Met points and fees limitations
• None of the following features: negative-amortization, interest-only or balloon-payment features
Points and Fees
A loan must not exceed the limits listed below for points and fees for either Temporary or Standard Qualified Mortgages. These fees typically do not include those that are paid to third parties such as appraisers or title companies unless those companies are affiliated with the lender.
Higher-Priced Mortgage Loans
For a lender to originate a Qualified Mortgage with safe harbor legal protections, the lender must ensure that the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) does not exceed certain thresholds. For 1st lien mortgage loans, the APR cannot exceed an index called the Average Prime Offered Rate (APOR) by more than 1.5%. For 2nd lien mortgage loans, the APR cannot exceed the APOR by more than 3.5%. FHA APR cannot exceed APOR +1.15% + annual NI%.
What does the Qualified Mortgage mean for you and your buyers?
Most loan programs today already adhere to the standards that make up the QM rule. The new rule simply formalizes that lenders must make – and document – a good-faith determination before closing the loan that the borrower has a reasonable Ability to Repay the loan. At minimum, this determination is made based on eight factors, which are already the tenets of mortgage underwriting:
• Current income or assets
• Current employment status
• Monthly mortgage payment
• Monthly payment on any simultaneous loan
• Monthly payment for mortgage-related obligations (taxes, insurance, HOA, etc.)
• Current debt obligations, alimony and child support
• Monthly debt-to-income ratio and residual income
• Credit history
There will not be a significant impact for loans that are eligible for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA or USDA. Although some jumbo and non-conforming programs will tighten their standards to the 43% debt-to-income threshold, most customers using these programs will still qualify.
The points and fees limitations and higher-priced mortgage loan limits are generally seen as a positive for homebuyers, as they will prevent many lenders from charging high ancillary fees, large amounts of discount points, and higher interest rates. However, there will be a small amount of riskier loan products that will be difficult to offer without violating the QM thresholds. Some lenders may decide to offer those mortgage products that are not eligible for QM safe harbor legal protection, but doing so will expose them to greater legal risks.