The National Consumer Reporting Association indicated a ‘vast majority’ of mortgage lenders will incur price increases ranging from 10% to 400% beginning in 2023. While not assured, and up to each lender, most of these costs are likely to be passed on to borrowers, along with ever-increasing mortgage rates.
The National Consumer Reporting Association (NCRA) sent a letter to its members in November stating that the “vast majority” of mortgage lenders will incur price increases ranging from 10% to 400%. Per the November 22, 2023 letter, Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO) will increase the price for mortgage credit reports over three tiers, “with a wholesale price increase of less than 10% for the top tier of approximately 46 lenders, about 200% for approximately six lenders in the middle tier, and more than 400% for all other mortgage lenders in the nation.” NCRA notes the fee increase “is being dictated to the mortgage credit reporting industry from all three national credit bureaus and/or FICO,” per the letter.
This raises serious antitrust and price fixing concerns, as there is simply no other option for consumer credit reporting and thus banks, and consumers, are beholden to these entities and their “scoring” of individual creditworthiness.
It will be up to each mortgage credit reporting company to determine how to implement this fee increase – in other words, they may, or may not, pass on these fees to borrowers. Some mortgage brokers absorb the cost of credit reporting into their profits and may continue to do so; but others may choose (or may already) pass these fees on directly to the consumer.
Jeff Lazerson, a columnist for the Orange County Register and president of MortgageGrader.com, said in his column published November 23 that his company received a price increase notification letter from Equifax Mortgage Services, his “firm’s former mortgage credit reporting vendor.” He said the notice indicated that, starting Jan. 1, “a FICO-scored joint (spouses) credit report is rising to $74.53 from $39.01. That’s a 91% increase or nearly double the price.” In his column, he said that FICO, Experian, and TransUnion declined to comment. He did note that Equifax responded, confirming that FICO will have tiered pricing and that the size of the increases are “unprecedented.”
The large increase in credit reports comes as home affordability has hit a 10-year low, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and now simply more fees are likely to be passed on to consumers already hit with record inflation and rising interest rates, not good for the housing market going into 2023.
What can you do? Call your elected federal representatives and inquire why three companies that own a monopoly on credit reporting can concurrently raise their prices so dramatically.
– Devin Lucas
Author Devin R. Lucas is a Real Estate Attorney, Broker and REALTOR®, specializing in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Orange County coastal communities, serving individual and investors in residential real estate.
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