Mortgage Choice Act reintroduced in Congress

Bipartisan bill faces friendlier Senate environment

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., reintroduced to the new Congress the “Mortgage Choice Act” – a bipartisan piece of legislation that would amend and clarify the qualified mortgage definition in the Dodd-Frank Act thereby improving access to credit and qualified mortgages for low and moderate income borrowers while protecting consumers from bad loans.

The bill, identical to the Mortgage Choice Act of 2013 – H.R. 3211 – would adjust the Truth in Lending Act definition of fees and points by exempting points and fees any affiliated title charges and escrow charges for taxes and insurance from the qualified mortgage cap on points and fees.

Last Congress, the bill died in the Senate.

"The goal of H.R. 3211 is to help low and middle income borrowers as well as prospective first-time homeowners realize a portion of the American Dream: owning their own home," Huizenga said, describing the original version of the bill. "This legislation is narrowly focused to promote access to affordable mortgage credit without overturning the important consumer protections and sound underwriting required under Dodd-Frank's 'ability to repay' provisions. I am glad to see this bipartisan effort garner unanimous support in committee and I am hopeful this legislation will see action before the entire House in a timely manner."

National Association of Federal Credit Unions Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler said NAFCU is four-square behind the bill.

“We thank Rep. Huizenga, the bill’s cosponsors and staff for their leadership and efforts in helping ensure that the points-and-fees definition for mortgages doesn’t push low- and moderate-income people from obtaining QM loans from credit unions,” Thaler said.

The bill’s original cosponsors are Reps. Greg Meeks, D-NY: Ed Royce, R-Calif.; David Scott, D-Ga.; David Joyce, R-Ohio; Steve Stivers, R-Ohio; Mike Doyle, D-Penn.; Patrick Murphy, D-Fla.; Betty McCollum, D-Minn., and Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn.

The same bill from the last Congress, and backed by NAFCU, was passed by the House in June but failed to move through the then-Democrat controlled Senate.

Most housing financial and housing trade groups support the Mortgage Choice Act, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Mortgage Lenders Association, the Consumer Mortgage Coalition, the Credit Union National Association, the National Association of Home Builders, the Real Estate Services Providers Council, the Realty Alliance and the National Association of Realtors.

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