CNBC Interview: Clinton Outlines Plan to Toughen Mortgage Rules

In an exclusive interview on CNBC, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton outlined her plan to toughen standards for mortgage brokers and to set up a $1 billion federal fund to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

“I think a lot of the lenders have really taken advantage of what is a really tough economic situation for many Americans," Clinton told CNBC's Dylan Ratigan during the live interview. "Although many of us have done well in the last six-and-half years, the median income in America has dropped $1,300, while healthcare costs, tuition and other costs that are really part of a middle class and working family's budget have increased."

In order to ensure mortgage brokers are qualified, she also thinks there should be more screening and a national registry of brokers as well as greater disclosure of the terms of broker compensation.

Clinton also proposed a $1 billion federal fund for local and state programs that help at-risk homeowners avoid foreclosures. She said those programs could help the "unsuspecting families" linked to unfair mortgages.

She also proposed that lenders remove early payment penalties attached to some mortgages.

“A lot of buyers think the brokers are actually representing them, when we know the brokers get paid depending upon the size of the mortgage they are able to sell,” she said.

Clinton has been critical of subprime mortgages, loans given to people with blemished credit histories or low incomes. Weak home prices and rising interest rates have made it increasingly difficult for borrowers to keep up with their payments; delinquencies and foreclosures are sharply rising.

In her interview, Clinton said that without increased standards, the U.S. could see a "cascade of foreclosures."

According to Clinton, some subprime lenders have targeted consumers who "just had no business getting into homeownership until they got their credit straighten out and got some real advice about how to go forward."

"This has implications for the entire economy," Clinton said. "So it's not only that I'm concerned about the stories that I've heard all over the country: families losing their homes when frankly they got behind because they lost a job, they had a medical crisis, they got hit the adjustable-rate mortgage with the pre-payment penalty, but it's also about the impact that this is having, and could very dramatically, have on our economy going forward."

She added, she was advocating changes to fix the problems she sees before they "get out of hand."

Clinton plans to introduce some legislation tied to this plan when Congress returns from its summer recess.

On Monday, the nation's 10th largest mortgage lender, American Home Mortgage Investment, filed for bankruptcy protection. Two other mortgage lenders said they were not accepting new applications. Falling home prices and a spike in payment defaults have scared investors away from mortgage debt, including bonds and other securities backed by home loans.

In addition, there have been more than 900,000 foreclosure filings so far this year, compared with 1.3 million foreclosures on homes last year. In New Hampshire, where Clinton unveiled her plan, there were 150 foreclosure filings last year and 1,400 filings so far this year.

During the wide-ranging interview, Clinton also touched on other topics including healthcare, foreign investment in the U.S., and tax reform.

Clinton said she continues to see healthcare reform as an economic imperative. She has previously outlined a seven-point plan to improve the healthcare system and lower costs.

"From my perspective, we have to cover everybody, get costs down, and improve quality," Clinton said. "The insurance industry, I've said many times, has to quit discriminating against people on pre-existing conditions."

Ratigan also questioned Clinton about her plans to change the tax rules governing money earned by private equity and hedge funds, while at the same time, receiving political contributions from individuals in those industries.

Clinton said her tax-reform plans are aimed at returning some of the "fairness" in the system.