Interest-only and payment-option ARM lenders will have to qualify borrowers at the fully indexed rate with potential negative amortization added to the loan amount under final federal regulatory guidance issued Friday.Banking regulators rejected industry complaints that the new underwriting guidelines will be too restrictive. Under the mandate, payment-option adjustable-rate mortgage servicers must include in the monthly mortgage statement an "explanation" that if borrowers chooses the minimum monthly payment -- which many do -- it would increase their loan balance. "The regulators stuck to their guns," said Howard Glaser, a former Department of Housing and Urban Development attorney who runs a consulting practice. ".... It is rare for federal regulators to step in and regulate a specific product. They are doing so here out of concern that they need to protect both the borrower and the bank." According to the Alternative Products Quarterly Data Report, the largest option ARM lenders include Countrywide Home Loans, Washington Mutual, and Golden West, among others. The regulators also issued model consumer disclosures for IO and option ARM products for public comment.

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