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Virginia lender to pay FHA $230,000 for bad mortgages

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First Guaranty Mortgage Corp. agreed to pay the Federal Housing Administration nearly $230,000 to settle claims of poorly written mortgages. The FHA has the ability to sanction approved lenders for violations of underwriting requirements. In addition to fines and reimbursements, FHA can also strip approval for a lender. In the last fiscal year, the FHA took 20 administrative sanctions against lenders. In this latest case, the FHA alleged the Virginia-based lender ignored poor credit and payment histories, approved mortgages with exceedingly high debt-to-income ratios, and charged improper broker fees to borrowers. First Guaranty agreed to pay a $127,500 fine and an additional $102,000 to reimburse the FHA for past insurance claims and the broker fees for loans foreclosed upon. A message was left with First Guaranty seeking comment. The lender also agreed to refund $7,900 in fees charged to four families. If any one of another 18 affected loans defaults within five years of the settlement, First Guaranty will reimburse the Department of Housing Development for any losses. New FHA Acting Director Bob Ryan, previously the agency's chief risk officer, said such crackdowns are vital. "FHA must ensure that lenders meet the strictest standards when underwriting loans, and not charge borrowers unnecessary or excessive fees," Ryan said. "It’s critical that all lenders do the hard work at the front end of any mortgage to ensure homeownership can be sustained over the long haul." In April, the FHA settled with Massachusetts lender First American Mortgage Trust for allegedly failing to verify if borrowers could sustain mortgage payments over the life of the loan. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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