Credit report costs are predicted to soar dramatically in 2024, resulting in a significant impact on the mortgage industry and prospective home buyers.
Credit report costs are predicted to soar dramatically in 2024, resulting in a significant impact on the mortgage industry and prospective home buyers. This article delves into the reasons behind this increase, the mechanics of the pricing changes, and the potential consequences for individuals in the housing market.
Credit reports play a vital role in the mortgage industry, as they are integral to the loan approval process. Traditionally, credit reports have been relatively affordable. However, recent developments suggest a pending spike in costs that could disrupt the market.
In 2023, credit bureaus and FICO sought to adjust their revenue structure through tiered pricing. This change was initially based on the size of the mortgage company, but soon evolved into a uniform price increase. Previously, a credit report cost around $20; projections for 2024 indicate a potential rise to $50-$60 per report.
One core issue lies in the lack of competition within the credit reporting space. FICO scores are the only recognized system by major mortgage investors such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. Although VantageScore was developed as an alternative, it is yet to be widely adopted in the mortgage sector. VantageScore is also owned by the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest and market monopolization.
A dramatic change occurred in 2018 when FICO renegotiated terms with the credit bureaus, allowing for increased fees. For instance, a single bureau credit report charge by FICO has risen from approximately $1.50 to an anticipated $8 per bureau, per pull. The challenge for industry participants and observers is the lack of transparency around these increases. The multilayered pricing structure, involving FICO, the credit bureaus, and the companies aggregating this data for mortgage companies, complicates the ability to track and understand fee escalations.
The direct financial burden of these increases will likely fall on consumers. The anticipated rise in costs could discourage rate shopping and potentially lead to fewer loan approvals, as consumers may be unwilling or unable to pay for multiple credit pulls from various lenders.
The mortgage industry is actively seeking solutions to mitigate the impact of these cost increases. However, the potential for charging consumers upfront for credit reports is high, as lenders grapple with the financial feasibility of absorbing these costs.
It is crucial for industry participants and consumers to voice their concerns to regulators and legislators. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other relevant bodies need to be aware of the potential negative effects on the housing market. Increased advocacy and media attention may help drive change or introduce legislative measures to curb these cost hikes.
The imminent cost increase for credit reports is a pressing issue for the mortgage industry and potential homebuyers. With a lack of competition and transparency, consumers face the prospect of heightened expenses during an already challenging economic period in the housing market. It is imperative to bring this issue to the forefront and advocate for a solution that protects consumers and maintains fair practices within the industry.