The Effect of Mortgage Broker Compensation Disclosures on Consumers and Competition: A Controlled Experiment

Authors:
James M. Lacko, Janis K. Pappalardo
This report presents the results of a study that uses a controlled experiment with over 500 recent mortgage customers to examine the mortgage broker compensation disclosure proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of its July 2002 RESPA reform proposal. The focus of the disclosure is on any “yield spread premium” paid by the lender to the broker for loans originated with “above par” interest rates. The study finds that the disclosure is likely to confuse consumers, cause a significant proportion to choose loans that are more expensive than the available alternatives, and create a substantial consumer bias against broker loans, even when the broker loans cost the same or less than direct lender loans. The report concludes that a better way to help consumers obtain less expensive mortgages would be to encourage and facilitate consumer comparison shopping on loan costs.