In the wake of the ongoing mortgage foreclosure crisis fueled in part by predatory lending, one foundation is aiming to restore consumer confidence.
The effort will allow borrowers the option of using lenders that are certified as "safe," "fair" and free of predatory lending, under a 21-member national network known as nonprofit "Fair Mortgage Collaborative" (FMC).
"During uncertain economic times, American families need someone to look out for their best interest," says Janet Murguia, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza, a Collaborative member organization.
The Fair Mortgage Collaborative will certify that lenders meeting five standards of conduct are "fair and safe." The lender must 1) work for the customer, not the other way around 2) take no part in "steering" 3) take no part in predatory loans 4) ensure clear and compensating customer benefit for non-standard loans, and 5) keep rules and standards current for new loan types.
FMC's current crop of certified lending organizations provide mortgages currently totaling $520m per year. That level is expected to double or more in the first year of the program, FMC says.
"A separate but equally important FMC goal is to provide consumers with information and education so they understand that they can choose to go to lending organizations that are fair and safe," says FMC executive director Howard Banker. "This consumer education effort will improve lending practices, restore borrower confidence, and make the homeownership process once again a safe and responsible asset-building tool..."
Write to Kelly Curran.