Lenders access mortgage histories on credit reports

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A computer glitch has provided some brokers with a glimpse of credit reports that include mortgage payment histories – information many banks, they learned, already get.

“What this has revealed to me is that we as brokers are not working with a level playing field in that we don’t have access to a client’s payment history on their mortgage, but many banks do,” said Stephane Prevost, an agent with Dominion Lending Centres Alliance. “We should be playing with the same decision-making information -- I mean how can we best represent our clients if we are missing key information that the banks may be using to decide on an application.”  

Earlier this month, a client handed Prevost a credit report pulled by her bank as part of a refi application. Among that bureau information was the client’s payment history for her existing mortgage, held by another lender. It was not a HELOC, information that routinely appears on credit reports.

Prevost would later contact Equifax for the same information, instead getting a report without that mortgage information.

Around the same time he pulled a credit report on another client, this time it included that mortgage information. Equifax calls the incident a mistake, said Prevost, because brokers aren’t, in fact, allowed to access that information.  Some banks, however, are, although strictly speaking that information does not figure into Beacon score calculations.

“Apparently myself, along with other mortgage agents, accessed credit during an Equifax maintenance process and they have since changed it so that we don’t have access to it under our current subscription,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. I asked why (and they said) it’s because bank branches that report their mortgages to Equifax also have the benefit of seeing mortgages on credit bureaus.”

The apparent double standard doesn’t sit well with other brokers, who share Prevost’s concern about a lack of transparency.

“Is this a level playing field for all?” said Glenn May-Anderson, a veteran mortgage broker in Ontario. “Is Equifax saying that they provide this info to banks, but we had accidental access during a maintenance window?”

However it is that brokers get the information, any move by Equifax and all credit bureaus to include mortgage payment histories best serves broker clients, said Leo Maiorino, a broker with Mortgage Brokers Ottawa, who has never seen mortgage information outside of HELOCs on a client’s file.

“It shows how a client has managed what is usually the single biggest debt they’ll ever have, he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “That should be there.”

While Prevost generally agrees he does have some concerns about opening a client’s entire mortgage history to a prospective lender, especially with clients holding several properties and seeking rental mortgages.

  • Ron Butler on 2012-05-01 2:28:40 AM

    This type of mortgage credit bureau has been available to some FIs for well over a year, I have heard it referenced by underwriters on many occasions. It's no secret. Our inquiries to Equifax revealed this type of Bureau was only available to FI bureau members who actually provide mortgages (banks, trusts, CUs etc) and only those FIs who share their mortgage data with the bureau. Not likely any mortgage brokers will have access any time soon.

  • Eric Putnam on 2012-05-01 3:27:40 AM

    Agree with Ron Butler's comments Several years ago when I was a senior manager for a lender I was told by Equifax manager that that if we shared our mortgage data we could potentially access other lenders mortgage data. FYI if you have your client obtain their own Equifax report their mortgage will appear on the report in most cases. As most know this is free once a year for clients to do but without the score. If client want's score they have to pay for the report-about $24 per person last time I checked Equifax.ca

  • Gary on 2012-05-01 3:32:08 AM

    This has been the case for many years. It was the only way the credit reporting agencies could get the FI's to report their mortgages - share with only those who report in.

  • Phil McDowell on 2012-05-01 3:53:11 AM

    The only argument that will make sense for FI's to report their mortgage book is if FI Risk and Security departments concerns for fraud losses outway Marketing concerns their book will become competitor targets for renewal/refi. OSFI rule changes on reviewing mortgage credit will not make Marketing any happier about opening their books to competitors' eyes.

  • LizD on 2012-05-01 4:11:06 AM

    There are arguments both sides on the pros and cons of including mortgage payment info on credit bureaus. However the question remains, regardless of whether the mortgage history is disclosed or not, why could the credit score not factor in the mortgage payment history, if available. Would lend a different light on those 'Reject Score' consumers who choose to live on a cash-basis, not using credit except for their mortgage - the largest purchase they will make in their lives.

  • AB Broker on 2012-05-01 4:28:11 AM

    Log onto Eqifax.ca and request your personal bureau. My mortgage showed up towards the bottom-very interesting. I also found out that Telus Mobility also reports on my bureau. What's more interesting, is that both Telus and my mortgage began to report the same month 9 months ago. As a broker, this information would helps us to know if clients are withholding information before we submit. Some buyers are liars!

  • Jim T.....Advent mortgage on 2012-05-01 4:34:56 AM

    It is what it is. We have to play the cards we are dealt and do the best we can. I do think this is good information for lenders to have. This information will help lenders weed out those fraudulent applicants that don't disclose their other property holdings.

  • Stephane Prevost DLC Alliance on 2012-05-01 4:42:34 AM

    for those who think the Eqifax report paid by the consumer will mean something... I can tell you the one report paid buy consumer does not contain a beacon score. Instead its a ERS. = Equifax Risk Score. the score can be off by over 100 points.

  • ram on 2012-05-01 6:40:49 AM

    as far as i know - its been there for more than a yr - i have seen specially with TD and Scotia.

  • Patrick on 2012-05-01 9:36:06 PM

    That last paragraph says a lot.

  • Adil A.Rahman on 2012-05-02 1:49:10 AM

    We need to have the equal tools to do our job properly and build a strong relationship with bank, F.i. underwriters to weed out fraudulent clients.

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