The Right Thing To Do
As a fair and responsible home lender, Wells Fargo strictly prohibits discrimination based on race, age or other demographic factors, and also prohibits abusive, misleading, or fraudulent lending practices. We want our customers to understand the terms of their loan — including rate, pricing, payment schedule and term, as well as any other features unique to their situation. We want them to understand the terminology and language associated with their loan and what to expect after their loan closes. We work hard to ensure that our customers are able to make informed borrowing choices and feel confident in the choice they make.
We demonstrated fair and responsible lending practices before the housing crisis and we continue to uphold and enhance these practices today. In fact, we gave up market share (yes that means profits) during the housing market "bubble" that preceded the financial crisis of 2008 by not following the lending practices of our most aggressive competitors. We made these decisions quite simply because if these loans didn't make sense to us, we could not imagine how they would have made sense to our customers.
For example, we gave up profit and market share opportunities when we decided not to offer subprime loans that hinged on a customer's unverified stated income, and adjustable rate mortgages with optional payment plans. Again, if a loan product didn't make sense to us, we didn't offer it to our customers.
We believe this cautious, conservative, customer-focused approach to our lending — before, during and after the housing crisis — is one of the major reasons we're still in business and many of our more aggressive competitors during the housing market bubble are not.
This is why at Wells Fargo we work to ensure our fair and responsible lending practices are reflected in every loan that we make. It's a commitment that's backed by internal checks and controls that are tougher than both the industry standards and government requirements.
Wells Fargo: A History of Principled Decisions
- A system of responsibility. Published Responsible Lending Principles and established process to evaluate and enhance practices.
- No exotic loan features. Elected to not offer Adjustable Rate loans with "payment options" including "skip a payment" features.
- Income verification. Elected to not offer stated income products to sub-prime customers.
- "Sub-prime" security. Implemented process requiring all subprime loans to be reviewed to ensure any loan eligible for better pricing was offered it.
Benefit testing. Established testing processes for all loans to evaluate whether the loan provided real benefit to the customer.
Independent appraisal and valuation. Appraiser selection not allowed by loan officers to help ensure processes around appraisal and home valuation were more independent.
Appraiser independence. Established policy of "appraiser independence" to reduce potential conflict of interest among our loan officers and to help ensure that appraisals were completed without bias.
Responsibility in action: $8.1 billion in mortgage reductions
We’ve forgiven more than $8.1 billion of mortgage principal for our customers. This has helped them cope with unforeseen circumstances like a job loss, which may dramatically impact their finances and their ability to afford a home.