Navigating the Waters of High Priced Mortgage Loans: What You Need to Know


In the world of home financing, entering into a high priced mortgage loan (HPML) can feel like navigating a ship through treacherous waters. This article aims to be your compass, guiding you through the intricacies of HPMLs, helping you understand what they entail, and providing practical advice on how to manage such loans effectively.

Imagine you’re about to buy your dream home. The price tag is steep, and the loan terms offered by your bank have high interest rates. Welcome to the realm of high priced mortgage loans. These types of loans can be both a blessing and a curse: they make homeownership possible when it might otherwise be out of reach, but come with risks that can jeopardize your financial stability. Let’s dive deep into what makes a mortgage “high priced,” explore the regulatory landscape, and offer tips on how to handle these loans wisely.

What is a High Priced Mortgage Loan?

A high priced mortgage loan is essentially a loan that significantly exceeds the average prime offer rate (APOR) for comparable transactions. This benchmark is set by regulatory bodies to provide a clear-cut definition of what constitutes “high cost” in the mortgage industry.

Key Features of HPMLs:

  • Interest Rates and APR: HPMLs typically have interest rates or annual percentage rates (APR) that are considerably higher than the norm.
  • Equity Impact: Borrowers might find these loans attractive due to lower initial requirements but often face equity issues long-term.
  • Regulatory Oversight: These loans are subject to stringent regulatory scrutiny to protect consumers from predatory lending practices.

Understanding these features is crucial in assessing whether an HPML is a viable option for your home buying needs. Now, let’s unpack the regulatory environment surrounding these loans.

Regulatory Framework Governing High Priced Mortgage Loans

In response to the financial crisis of 2008, which was partly blamed on irresponsible lending practices, regulations surrounding HPMLs have significantly tightened. Key legislation includes:

  • Truth in Lending Act (TILA): Enhances disclosure requirements for lenders.
  • Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Introduces more stringent lending criteria to prevent predatory lending.

These laws ensure that lenders who offer HPMLs do not engage in unfair practices, and they help consumers make informed decisions.

How These Regulations Affect You

If you’re considering an HPML, these regulations mean:

  • More Paperwork: You’ll likely face more extensive documentation processes.
  • Better Disclosures: Lenders must clearly outline the terms of your loan.
  • Cooling-Off Periods: Some jurisdictions require a period during which you can reconsider your commitment without penalty.

Managing a High Priced Mortgage Loan

Managing an HPML requires diligence and proactive financial management. Here are some tips:

  • Understand Your Loan Terms: Know your APR, payment schedule, and any potential penalties for late payments or refinancing.
  • Budget Wisely: Ensure your monthly budget accounts for your mortgage payments, including any potential increases if you have a variable rate.
  • Plan for Refinancing: If possible, plan to refinance the loan to a lower interest rate in the future.

When to Consider an HPML

An HPML might be right for you if:

  • Limited Options: Other mortgage options are not available due to credit issues or other financial constraints.
  • Short-Term Ownership Plans: You plan to sell the home before interest rates become unmanageable.
  • Rising Property Values: You anticipate that property values will rise, potentially offsetting the higher interest costs.

FAQs About High Priced Mortgage Loans

What exactly qualifies a mortgage as “high priced”?

A mortgage that exceeds the average prime offer rate (APOR) by 1.5 percentage points for first-lien loans, or by 3.5 percentage points for subordinate-lien loans, is considered high priced.

Are there any alternatives to taking out an HPML?

Yes, alternatives include seeking additional funding sources, improving your credit score to qualify for standard rates, or exploring government-backed loans which might offer better terms.

What are the risks associated with HPMLs?

The primary risks include higher interest costs over the life of the loan, potential for negative amortization, and greater difficulty in refinancing.


High priced mortgage loans are not inherently bad, but they do carry risks that require careful consideration and management. By understanding what constitutes an HPML, the regulatory framework, and how to manage these loans, you can better navigate the complexities of high cost borrowing. Remember, the goal isn’t just to buy a home but to maintain financial stability and peace of mind long after the purchase.