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Senate votes to ban liar loans

By Tami Luhby, senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Senate voted Wednesday to ban controversial "liar loans," which helped bring down the housing market.

The legislation, part of the broader financial regulatory reform bill working its way through Congress, would require lenders to fully document a borrower's income before originating a mortgage. It would also mandate that lenders verify a borrower's ability to repay the loan.

This would effectively end the origination of no-doc or stated-income mortgages, which many call "liar loans" because borrowers did not have to prove their income. Housing experts point to these mortgages as one catalyst for the housing collapse.

The bill would also prohibit lenders from giving brokers incentives for steering customers to loans with higher interest rates or prepayment penalties.

"Deceptive mortgage practices like hidden steering payments directly led to the Wall Street meltdown and resulted in millions of families losing their homes," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., co-author of the bill.

The provisions build on Federal Reserve regulations that required lenders to verify the income and assets of subprime borrowers. Those rules, which went into effect in October, did not ban incentive payments, called yield-spread premiums.

"This should make the mortgage market a safer place for consumers," said Julia Gordon, senior policy council for the Center for Responsible Lending. To top of page

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