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House bill may worsen climate for subprime borrowers

Vague rules create risk for lenders, higher costs for consumers

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In the wake of the subprime crisis, the market has turned against all except "cream-puff borrowers" -- those with no weaknesses. The cream-puffs can borrow today on pretty much the same terms as before the crisis. But borrowers with blemishes on their applications are paying much higher prices and face a much higher risk of being turned down altogether. As if that is not bad enough, The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory lending Act of 2007 (HR 3915), now winding its way through Congress, would worsen their plight. That is not the intention, of course, but the law of unintended consequences has a home in the home loan market. Blemished borrowers have one or more of the following risk factors: They can make only a very small or no down payment; they cannot fully document their income and assets; their property is something other than a single-family home; their loan is intended to raise cash or to purchase an investment property; they have low credit scores; their income is ...