Regulators in Washington are developing a "new way" of examining lenders in their state, and they say that if the concept works as expected, it could become a universal system in which oversight is handled more quickly and less expensively in all 50 states."We're working on this, but in no way do we want to keep it to ourselves," said Chuck Cross of Washington's Department of Financial Institutions. "We want to export it nationally to see if it has any legs." As described by Mr. Cross at the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators' annual convention in Washington, D.C., software would use a list of "agreed upon" red flags that signal the possibility of abusive loan practices as well as a catalogue of possible compensating factors that could explain the reason the program marks certain loans. The challenge, according to Mr. Cross, who takes over this week as president of AARMR, will be in persuading lenders, consumer advocates, and regulators to agree on just where in the lending continuum a loan crosses the line and becomes predatory. Mr. Cross, the action director of his department's consumer services division as well as the division's chief enforcement officer, said if everyone signs off on the system, it holds the promise of allowing examiners to zero in more quickly on problem loans. He also said it will make it easier for lenders to deal with routine exams.

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