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Cordray: Adding leeway to LO comp rule 'sounds sensible'

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau officials will consider allowing mortgage loan officers to lower their compensation in order to close a home purchase.

The Federal Reserve finalized its loan officer compensation rule under the Dodd-Frank Act last year, ending the practice of mortgage originators receiving payments directly from the borrower and the lender simultaneously. Congress intended to crack down on the practice of paying originators more when a borrower accepts a higher interest rate mortgage, known as the yield spread premium.

But the CFPB was given some authority to continue working on the rule. CFPB Director Richard Cordray told a congressional panel Thursday changes to the rule should be in place by January 2013. He did give an indication during the hearing that the bureau could relax the rule.

Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., said it provides no leeway at closing for the originator, who in the past routinely lowered their own costs in order to get a deal done.

The California congressman introduced a bill in July, H.R. 2509, which would allow the loan officer to reduce his or her compensation by 30% or less for the purpose of correcting discrepancies at closing.

Miller said the bill would also allow a borrower to roll those costs into the loan if needed.

"Of course, there are bad actors that would try to raise the costs at the last minute, and my bill would not allow that. Would your bureau take these ideas into consideration?" Miller asked.

Cordray agreed to consider them, but stressed the rule was still pending.

"I hear you on that. On its face, it sounds fairly sensible I would say," Cordray said.


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