Board Proposes Significant Changes to Regulation Z to Improve Disclosures Consumers Receive Regarding Closed-End Mortgages and Home-Equity Lines of Credit
July 23, 2009
Circular No. 12122

The Federal Reserve Board has proposed significant changes to Regulation Z (Truth in Lending) intended to improve the disclosures consumers receive in connection with closed-end mortgages and home-equity lines of credit (HELOCs). These changes, offered for public comment, reflect the result of consumer testing conducted as part of the Board's comprehensive review of the rules for home-secured credit. The amendments would also provide new consumer protections for all home-secured credit.

Closed-end mortgage disclosures would be revised to highlight potentially risky features such as adjustable rates, prepayment penalties, and negative amortization. The Board's proposal would:

  • Improve the disclosure of the annual percentage rate (APR) so it captures most fees and settlement costs paid by consumers;
  • Require lenders to show how the consumer's APR compares to the average rate offered to borrowers with excellent credit;
  • Require lenders to provide final Truth in Lending Act (TILA) disclosures so that consumers receive them at least three business days before loan closing; and
  • Require lenders to show consumers how much their monthly payments might increase, for adjustable-rate mortgages.

In developing the proposed amendments, the Board recognized that disclosures alone may not always be sufficient to protect consumers from unfair practices. To prevent mortgage loan originators from "steering" consumers to more expensive loans, the Board's proposal would:

  • Prohibit payments to a mortgage broker or a loan officer that are based on the loan's interest rate or other terms; and
  • Prohibit a mortgage broker or loan officer from "steering" consumers to transactions that are not in their interest in order to increase the mortgage broker's or loan officer's compensation.

The rules for home-equity lines of credit would be revised to change the timing, content and format of the disclosures that creditors provide to consumers at application and throughout the life of such accounts. Currently, consumers receive lengthy, generic disclosures at application. Under the proposal, consumers would receive a new one-page Board publication summarizing basic information and risks regarding HELOCs at application.

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