Home Mortgages: Provisions in a 2007 Mortgage Reform Bill (H.R. 3915) Would Strengthen Borrower Protections, but Views on Their Long-term Impact Differ

GAO-09-741 Published: Jul 31, 2009. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 2009.
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H.R. 3915 (2007), a bill introduced, but not enacted by the 110th Congress, was intended to reform mortgage lending practices to prevent a recurrence of problems in the mortgage market, particularly in the nonprime market segment. The bill would have set minimum standards for all mortgages (e.g., reasonable ability to repay) and created a "safe harbor" for loans that met certain requirements. Securitizers of safe harbor loans would be exempt from liability provisions, while securitizers of non-safe harbor loans would be subject to limited liability for loans that violated the bill's minimum standards. In response to a congressional request, this report discusses (1) the proportions of recent nonprime loans that likely would have met and not met the bill's safe harbor requirements and factors influencing the performance of these loans, and (2) relevant research and the views of mortgage industry stakeholders concerning the potential impact of key provisions of the bill on the availability of mortgage credit. To do this work, GAO analyzed a proprietary database of securitized nonprime loans, reviewed studies of state and local anti-predatory lending laws, and met with financial regulatory agencies and key mortgage industry stakeholders.

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