Better Consumer Protections for Mortgage Borrowers on the Horizon?

A recent report from CreditBloggers indicates that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the new government body created by the Obama administration to improve consumer protections in the United States, plans to create an easy-to-understand tool that will allow potential homeowners to compare the terms of various mortgage loans with greater ease.

Here’s a look at some of the details.

Easier-to-Understand Mortgage Documents and More

  • More transparency in lending: According to a press release from the CFPB, the organization plans to join forces with state enforcers and banks to improve transparency in lending tools such as mortgage documents, student loans and payday loans. The goal of this partnership is to better equip consumers with the tools needed to understand loans before they take on such burdens.
  • Clarification of mortgage options: One of the CFPB’s specific goals is to provide consumers with an easy-to-understand comparison sheet for mortgage loans. The current forms, apparently, include too much legal and technical jargon and provide little illumination for the average consumer.

So what might this mean for consumers, once the CFPB produces documents to facilitate various borrowing experiences?

Improved Understanding of Consumer Risk

The goal, it seems, is to put consumers in a position of power when they’re making decisions about their finances. Ultimately, services from the CFPB might include:

  • Better disclosures on student lending forms: Most student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, but students continue to regularly take on tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt in order to get a bachelor’s degree. Improved disclosures, explanations and estimates post-graduation earnings could help young students make more reasonable borrowing decisions.
  • Tighter restrictions (or clearer terms) at payday loan stores: While some state laws have banned or greatly restricted the practice of payday lending, in much of the country payday lenders still thrive. The CFPB has announced that it plans to play a role in changing the face of payday lending so that it is less alluring and expensive for already struggling consumers.
  • Clearer comparisons of mortgage offers: As stated above, more direct methods of explaining and comparing mortgages could potentially save consumers from taking on toxic debt.

Because the financial turmoil we’ve been dealing with for the last few years has had unarguably negative effects on the lives and livelihoods of millions of citizens, it’s refreshing to see the potential for some good (in the form of increased consumer protections) to come out of the bad.

The CFPB is still a fairly new organization; as it matures and extends its reach, it should be making important changes for consumers across the country.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 at 11:03 am and is filed under Finance 101: Secure Your Future, Predatory Lending. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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