Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

December 13, 2013

Non-QM Mortgages Risks and Best Practices

By David Reiss

Moody’s issued a report, Non-QM US RMBS Face Higher Risk of Losses Than QM, but Impact on Transactions Will Vary, that discusses the risk that

US RMBS backed by non-qualified mortgages (those that do not meet a variety of underwriting criteria under new guidelines) will incur higher loss severities on defaulted loans than those backed by qualified mortgages. The key driver of the loss severities will be the higher legal costs and penalties for non-QM securitizations. In non-QM transactions, a defaulted borrower can more easily sue a securitization trust on the grounds that the loan violated the Ability-to-Repay (ATR) rule under the Dodd-Frank Act. . . . The extent of the risks for RMBS will vary, however, depending on the mortgage originators’ practices and documentation, the strength of the transactions’ representations and warranties, and whether the transactions include indemnifications that shield them from borrower lawsuits. (1)

The higher costs for non-QM investors may include longer foreclosure timelines and the resulting wear on the collateral.

If Moody’s analysis is right, however, the Dodd-Frank regime will be working as intended. It should incentivize mortgage originators to strengthen their compliance practices such as those relating to documentation, recordkeeping and third party due diligence. It should also incentivize securitizers to demand strong reps and warranties, put back and indemnification provisions. Sounds like a reasonable trade off to  me.

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