It seems no one’s happy with an Ohio bill to crack down on fraudulent mortgage practices, a measure that’s been delayed as the state House and Senate work out differences, media reports said today.
Consumer advocates who praised the Senate version say the House added loopholes that would allow brokers to keep swindling borrowers by shoving complicated paperwork at them during loan closings, the Cincinnati Enquirer and Associated Press reported.
Large banks say the House did nothing to address their worry that they will be targeted by lawsuits, even though the bill specifically exempts them, reports said.
The two houses are in recess, but are due to resume work next month, according to reports.
The bills are designed to crack down on predatory lending and cool the state’s rising foreclosure rate, reports said.
Ohio had more than 3.2 percent of its mortgages in foreclosure at the end of 2005, higher than any other state, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The national average was just under 1 percent.
The Senate bill would let the attorney general take action against inflated appraisals and equity stripping, when a borrower gives a down payment and loses it in a foreclosure, reports said.
The Senate version applied Ohio’s consumer protection law to mortgages for the first time, banning law fraudulent and “unconscionable” sales practices, and allowing the attorney general to seek court orders stopping such acts and victims to sue to get their money back, reports said.
The House applied the same remedies, but replaced the sweeping definition with 20 specific banned practices, a list that may be expanded, according to reports.
“Most of the prohibitions in the bill have loopholes in them,” Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, said, according to reports. “It actually identifies the way lenders can get around them.”
The bill also bans bribing or forcing licensed appraisers to falsely inflate a home appraisal — a practice that makes money for the lender while leaving the buyer with more debt than home value, but then outlines ways for the broker or lender to try to change the appraisal amount, reports said.
Sen. Joy Padgett, who has worked several years on the Senate version, said she shares Faith’s concerns, according to reports.
The Legislature is on a break until after the May 2 primary election and three House and three Senate members who will work out differences in the bill have not been appointed, reports said.