FSB Principles for Sound Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices


FSB Principles for Sound Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices

FSB Principles for Sound Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices

FSB Principles for Sound Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices

Definitions often differ across jurisdictions. For the purposes of these Principles, the following definitions are used:

A comprehensive assessment of the property characteristics, which will include determining an opinion of the collateral’s value. In some countries the same process is known as a “valuation” or the terms are used interchangeably.

Balloon payment:
The remaining amount of principal that becomes due and payable on the final instalment payment for a loan that is not fully amortised.

The property or property rights upon which the residential mortgage loan is secured.

Collateral management:
For purposes of these Principles, collateral management concerns all tasks and processes within the mortgage underwriting process where collateral is involved, e.g. appraisal of collateral, the constitution of collateral, review of its legal existence and enforceability and entry of collateral-related data in the lender’s information technology systems.

Debt-to-income (DTI):
Annual or monthly total debt servicing requirements, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance, as a percentage of annual or monthly income that is available to repay the debt.

Down payment:
Up-front payment from the buyer for a portion of the purchase price, which reduces the balance of the loan against the property.

Difference between the appraised value of the property and the total claims held against the property.

Loan-to-income (LTI):
Annual or monthly mortgage loan servicing requirements as a percentage of annual or monthly income that is available to repay the loan.

Loan-to-value (LTV):
The ratio of the amount of the loan outstanding to the appraised value of the residential property.

Mortgage loan:
A loan that is collateralised against a residential property, including purchase, home equity loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and refinancings.

Mortgage insurance:
A type of insurance where the lender receives compensation against loss from default on the part of a borrower on a mortgage loan (also known as mortgage default insurance or mortgage guaranty insurance).

Variable rate mortgage:
A loan in which the interest rate rises and falls possibly based on the movement on an underlying index. The term variable rate mortgage is used interchangeably with adjustable rate mortgage.

I. Introduction

In March 2011 the Financial Stability Board (FSB) published a thematic review of residential mortgage underwriting and origination practices.1 Based on the findings of the review, six recommendations were set out, one of which asked the FSB to develop an international principles-based framework for sound underwriting practices. After providing sufficient time for implementation, the FSB will conduct a follow-up review to assess progress made in implementing the framework. Given that the underlying risks can differ across jurisdictions, the Principles are high-level rather than aimed at detailed international standards.
As the global crisis demonstrated, the consequences of weak residential mortgage underwriting practices in one country can be transferred globally through securitisation of mortgages underwritten to weak standards. As such, it is important to have sound underwriting practices at the point at which a mortgage loan is originally made. In response to the crisis, a number of FSB members have encouraged stricter underwriting practices so as to limit the risks that mortgage markets pose to financial stability and to better safeguard borrowers and investors. Internationally agreed Principles will help to strengthen residential mortgage underwriting practices and enable supervisors to more effectively monitor and detect the erosion of underwriting practices particularly when the housing market is booming.

The FSB Principles are intended to apply to loans to individuals (consumers) that are (i) secured either by residential mortgage or by another comparable security commonly used in some jurisdictions on immovable residential property; (ii) secured by a right related to immovable residential property; and (iii) loans for which the purpose is to acquire or retain rights in immovable residential property. However, some or all of the Principles may not necessarily be appropriate or applicable for certain niche forms of finance.2 Jurisdictions should nonetheless seek to apply all Principles that are relevant. In all instances, a robust and effective assessment of individual affordability must underpin any sustainable lending model. It is important to note that the Principles focus on the credit granting decision rather than wider issues of credit risk management.

Jurisdictions should ensure that entities that originate a mortgage, or own the resulting risk, adhere to these FSB Principles, including any entities involved in outsourcing of mortgage underwriting. The Principles span the following areas, some of which proved to be particularly weak during the global financial crisis that started in 2007: (i) effective verification of income and other financial information; (ii) reasonable debt service coverage; (iii) appropriate loan-to-value ratios; (iv) effective collateral management; and (v) prudent use of mortgage insurance. The report also sets out an implementation framework to promote minimum residential mortgage underwriting standards, and describes tools that could be used to monitor and supervise these standards.

In general, the range of residential mortgage underwriting practices reflects the distinct real estate markets, cultural differences and socioeconomic policies that shape each jurisdiction’s mortgage market. Hence, these Principles should be implemented according to national circumstances, and as appropriate to national institutional arrangements, whether through legislative, regulatory or supervisory measures, or through industry practices.

II. Principles

The FSB Principles for Sound Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices aim to provide a framework for jurisdictions to set minimum acceptable underwriting standards. Jurisdictions should ensure that lenders adopt sound mortgage underwriting standards against which supervisors can monitor and supervise. Lenders may choose to outsource aspects of the activities covered by these Principles, for example to credit intermediaries, credit bureaus and appraisers, but jurisdictions should ensure that lenders retain responsibility for all such tasks. The examples presented in italics provided throughout the Principles should be interpreted as such, and jurisdictions should implement the Principles accordingly.

The Principles will assist FSB members in their efforts to improve financial stability and prudential standards. They also refer to consumer protection issues that contribute to these objectives, but the Principles are not intended to be a statement of consumer protection standards. Jurisdictions will want to adopt the consumer protection standards that are appropriate to them.


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