By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Big changes in the rules for home mortgages were rolled out in Baltimore.

Alex DeMetrick reports federal regulators unveiled them in a public hearing downtown.

When the housing market crashed four years ago, massive foreclosures followed in its wake. In some places, it’s not over yet.

“Foreclosure rates in the Greater Baltimore area rose this year, well beyond the national average, and even increased from the year before,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

As a result, credit to buy a home here became harder to get. Two bad outcomes to years of risky lending practices.

“We’ve seen neighborhoods that have been very much negatively impacted because of mortgage foreclosures, and the tragedy in this is that in many of these cases it didn’t have to happen,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland. “Individuals in our community were steered into subprime products that they shouldn’t have been.”

And at a public hearing Baltimore, federal regulators from the consumer financial protection bureau, announced new mortgage rules.

“A rule designed to insure that lenders are offering mortgages that consumers can actually afford to pay back,” said Richard Cordray, director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Here’s how: No more risky interest only loans, no undocumented loans, lenders must verify a borrower’s financial records, including credit card debt and student loans, and no loan can exceed a debt limit of 43 percent of person’s annual income.

Like a pendulum, loans swung from easy to get to hard to get.  The new rules seek to find a middle ground.

“This is a simple, obvious principal that needs to be re-established in the American housing market.  It is nothing more than the essence of responsible lending,” Cordray said.

And it will go into effect on home sales beginning next year.

Congress charged the consumer Financial Protection Bureau to come up with changes in the way mortgages are issued.


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