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Banks reportedly pushing for 10% down on qualified residential mortgage

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Lenders have begun pushing lawmakers for a down payment of less than 10% on mortgages it would not have to retain the risk on after securitization, according to Washington research group MF Global. Under Dodd-Frank, federal regulators are charged with setting a qualified residential mortgage, or QRM, standard. Lenders would have to retain 5% of the risk on any loans written outside of these guidelines. Rulemakers have until the end of April to set these measures. One possible threshold for a QRM will be the downpayment. Regulators are currently mulling a possible 20% down standard for these loans, meaning that for any loans made with less than 20% down, banks are required to retain the risk. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair told attendees at a Mortgage Bankers Association summit held earlier in January that this was a yardstick she would support. "Industry is fighting for a down payment option in the qualified residential mortgage test of less than 10%," MF Global said Thursday. "We believe the market is picking up chatter from this lobbying effort." Neither the MBA or the FDIC was not available for comment. In December, Wells Fargo (WFC) broke away from its rivals when it sent a letter to regulators explaining that only mortgages with more than a 30% downpayment should be exempt from the risk-retention rule under the QRM. MF Global analysts still expect a 20% down payment to be written into the QRM guidelines, but they remain concerned that fewer borrowers would able to put that much down or meet the stricter qualifications. Researchers there do not expect a proposal until late possibly March. As far as a final rule, regulators might have to delay the deadline. "We see very little chance the rule could be finalized by the April 21 deadline and believe a more realistic deadline is mid-summer," MF Global said. "This means industry still has time to influence the final rule and try to get a 10% down payment included. But until regulators blink, the odds still favor a 20% down requirement." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter: @JonAPrior

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