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Fraud and misrepresentation risk increase for fifth consecutive month

Market shifts toward riskier purchase options

The risk of defect, fraud and misrepresentation increased for the fifth consecutive month, according the Loan Application Defect index from First American Financial Corp., a provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions.

The frequency of defects, fraud and misrepresentation in the information submitted in mortgage loan applications increased 2.5% month-over-month in April. This represents an increase of 8% from April 2016.

Despite the increasing risk, the index is still down 20.6% from its peak in October 2013.

“The Loan Application Defect Index continued its strong upward increase for the fifth consecutive month,” First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming said. “The pace of defect risk growth is as strong as we have seen since the index began in 2011, adding to the concern over the five-month trend.”

“While we have recently noted that part of the rise in overall risk is due to the market’s shift toward riskier purchase transactions, the fact that risk in refinance transactions is also on the rise underscores the need for caution,” Fleming cautioned.

The Defect Index estimates the frequency of defects, fraudulence and misrepresentation in the information submitted in mortgage loan applications. The index reflects estimated mortgage loan defect rates over time, by geography and by loan type.

Refinances are getting riskier as the index increased 4.8% from March and 3.1% from last year for refi transactions. The index for purchase transactions increased 2.3% from last month and 7.2% from last year.

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