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.