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Mortgage Companies Must Avoid These 5 Advertising Mistakes

Advertising plays a prominent role in many mortgage companies' efforts to find new borrowers. As your customers get bombarded by more and more advertising messages, the urge to create an advertising piece that will stand out from the crowd becomes more urgent. This sense of desperation leads many mortgage lenders and brokers to create promotion pieces that cross the lines of permissible advertising. Make sure you don't make these mistakes that can lead to costly penalties.

1. Don't lead consumers to believe the government or their existing lender is sending them mail.

Many mortgage brokers use direct mail to solicit new business. Companies have distributed solicitations that use names of mortgage lenders in such a way that consumers believe it was sent to them by their lender, leading consumers to also believe, based on these solicitations, that their private financial information has been shared with another entity. These actions are a violation of the regulations of HUD and of the various states that regulate mortgage brokers and lenders. In addition, they can lead to consumer complaints to the regulatory agencies. The number of complaints the agency receives about you impacts how often you will be examined.

2. Do not omit the APR when advertising an interest rate.

No matter what state you are conducting mortgage activity, all lenders and brokers are subject to the application of federal Truth-in-Lending laws, specifically Regulation Z. The statute requires, among other things, that if a lender or broker advertises a particular interest rate, they must also quote the Annual Percentage Rate, or APR. The APR is correctly defined as the "cost of money borrowed, expressed as an annual rate." The APR takes into account the note rate, which is the rate a borrower's monthly payment is based on and any and all lender fees and finance charges. Yes, most borrowers don't understand APR but you are still required to use it in your advertising and be able to explain it to a potential customer.

3. Do not use terms that indicate unlimited access to credit.

Advertisements that contain terms such as "bad credit no problem" (or similar phrases) or language that implies that an applicant will have total access to credit without clearly and conspicuously disclosing the material limitations on the availability of credit are prohibited under many state laws. In most states, lenders and brokers need to list any limitations to getting the advertised mortgage, including income requirements, limitations for consumers with bad credit (such as a higher rate), and that restrictions as to the maximum principal amount of the loan offered may apply.

4. Many states require names, addresses, and license numbers in advertising.

This one is easy to comply with. You just need to know which of the states in which you are licensed requires such information on advertising materials. In some cases, there is also specific language that must be used such as New York's broker language: "Registered New York Mortgage Broker by the NYS Banking Department – all loans arranged by third party lenders." Or California's requirement to use this language: "Licensed by the Department of Corporations under the California Finance Lenders law (or Department of Real Estate or Residential Mortgage Act)." Just remember to add the required information to all advertising materials, including, but not limited to, direct mail, brochures, web sites and television and radio advertisements.

5. Be aware of the catch-all "fraudulent, deceptive or misleading" prohibitions.

Both the Federal Trade Commission and different state regulatory agencies have statutes that prohibit an "unfair or deceptive act or practice for a mortgage broker or lender to make any representation or statement of fact in an advertisement if the representation or statement is false or misleading or has the tendency or capacity to be misleading" or variations of this phraseology. Lately, the regulators are cracking down on advertisements regarding low interest rate loans that fail to mention that there may be negative amortization. If you think, but are not sure that your advertising contains inaccurate or misleading language, change the advertisement.
If you violate an advertising statute or regulation, at best, you will be asked to "cease and desist" the prohibited advertising and be subjected to increased scrutiny of all of your business activities. At worst, you could lose your licenses and pay heavy fines.

Gronsky Law Office helps existing mortgage brokers and mortgage lenders expand their business by getting new licenses. The law firm also helps starrt-up companies get their first licenses and handles all renewals and annual reports.

Article Source: Http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Robin_Gr…

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