Proposed Basel III Capital Rules for Mortgage Loans Would Further Push Mortgage Market to Homogeneous Products

By: Laurence E. Platt, Stanley V. Ragalevsky, Sean P. Mahoney

Banks that are concerned about potential fair lending claims if they refuse to make residential mortgage loans that are not “qualified mortgages” or “qualified residential mortgage loans” should be equally concerned about the new proposed bank capital rules. On June 7, 2012, the Federal Reserve approved for publication three sets of proposed regulations to revise the risk based capital rules for banks to make them consistent with the new international capital standard, generally known as Basel III, and certain requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation followed suit on June 12, 2012. Conventional residential mortgage loans with loan-to-value ratios in excess of 80%, regardless of the presence of private mortgage insurance, could trigger material adverse capital requirements if the loans are held for investment and do not comply with certain regulatory underwriting criteria. Such loans could present the legal risk of loss under the “ability to repay” rules, the credit risk of loss under the “risk retention” rules and now increased capital charges under the implementation of Basel III.

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