By the time you read this, the new 2,300 page financial reform bill is likely to be making the headlines. The Senate has already approved the new bill and President Obama is expected to sign it into law this week – despite the fact that many of the provisions related to specific regulations have yet to even be written. If that sounds faintly disturbing, don't worry, your concern is noted and shared by many experts throughout the nation. However, there are sweeping changes that are already apparent despite the lack of specific details.
Although broad in scope, home buyers and sellers are likely to be among the first impacted by the new provisions. They represent one of the most comprehensive – top to bottom changes to the finance, valuation, types of mortgage products offered and how lenders are compensated to take place in decades. In fact, there are even new rules for real estate investors that provide capital for the purchase of mortgages.
A few of the most important points likely to make immense impact to buyers, sellers and investors is the language dealing with any type of mortgage outside of the "traditional" or "plain vanilla" category. Unfortunately, regulators have yet to fully define what will constitute a "traditional" mortgage under the new plan but it is clear that the line will be drawn to reduce the number of sub-prime borrowers as well as offerings of owner finance and other alternative forms of finance. Experts predict an immediate and severe impact on many minority and low-income borrowers; many who have already been impacted by far less severe measures. For example, according to FHA, rejection rates for African American and Latino borrowers have substantially increased among non-FHA loans.
The new FDIC and other regulatory oversight standards contained in the bill are expected to provide safer mortgage instruments but at a higher cost and more stringent requirements for both banks and individuals. It is estimated that only five banks currently control more than 65% of the current mortgage market; the new bill is expected to further consolidate this trend by favoring big banks over small. In part, this is due to the belief that big banks are easier to regulate. However, at the same time, new controls and rules regulating private investors are also expected to take another two to three years to fully define – leading many to believe the bulk of mortgages will still be backed by the United States government for the foreseeable future.