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A Vast Anti-Consumer Conspiracy

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with McMichael & Toledo, CPAs

Today another new disclosure law goes into effect. This one is called the Mortgage Disclosure Improvement Act, or MDIA, and it really doesn't add much except additional time to the process. You must wait so many days after each set of disclosures to move on to the next step such as ordering the appraisal, signing loan docs, and so on. The MDIA doesn't actually improve the disclosures as the name would suggest, it just adds some waiting periods to the disclosures we already have.

This new regulation got me thinking about the sheer number of disclosures that are required in any loan package. I won't go into all the details, but I can assure you that anything that anyone thinks is important will show up on multiple forms and that every minute detail is covered ad-nauseum on densly packed legal size forms. The stack of papers that a borrower must sign at escrow typically exceeds one inch in thickness.

I'm sure that each form, taken by itself, has some value. I can see how the rulemakers, who are perhaps too isolated from the real world, might think that each one is vitally important. However, the actual effect of all these required disclosures is that borrowers aren't reading any of them. They are simply overwhelmed by the sheer volume of paper and most just sign and hope.

With a good loan officer that's fine. However, if anyone wanted to slip something in or change loan terms without anyone noticing, what better opportunity than to bury it under mounds of meaningless paperwork? I begin to wonder if it could all be part of a vast anti-consumer conspiracy. Are all these forms part of an industry effort to make sure borrowers don't really know what they're getting and what they're paying? Could they be intentionally overwhelming and confusing borrowers while making it look like consumer protection?

When you think about the money some of the largest banks in the country made by selling loans to borrowers who didn't understand them, you can see where my suspicions come from. I can't count the number of homeowners, especially older folks, I've talked to who are just now realizing what the "Payment Option Arm" they were sold really is. They were the wrong borrwer for that loan, they never understood it, and now they're upside-down in their homes with payments about to skyrocket. These loans were sold over the phone by big banks like Countrywide, and the scary details were hidden in the reams of paper the borrowers were asked to sign.

The greatest service we could do for consumers is to junk all the forms and start over. With just a note, a trust deed, and a few choice disclosures to sign, borrowers would actually have a chance to understand what they're getting. If the documents were easy to understand, most of the exotic loans with negative amortization, balloon payments, etc. would never have been done. Of course, our legislators and the big banks who own them probably realized this long ago. . .

Charlie Ragonesi
AllMountainRealty.com - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

I am going to the Gym so I do not hurt myself lifting all these pieces of paper. What a mess. You are soon going to need 2 pens to sign for the extra ink

Jul 30, 2009 06:44 AM
TIM MONCRIEF
Tim Monciref - Austin, TX
Over 2,000 homes sold…..

I got that and the new condo regulations this week.  Our government just puzzles me as to why they want to make the process more difficult over items that had little if anything to do with the crises.  I just dump a condo project and now I am soooo glad I did, as the project is frozen in place awaiting new FNMA approvals.  I have another that we are working on the listing.....and this pops up.

Jul 30, 2009 06:48 AM