Wells Fargo & Co., the nation’s largest mortgage lender, has asked U.S. regulators to set a down-payment standard of 30% on mortgages that wouldn’t have to meet a new requirement that banks retain 5% of a loan if it is securitized. The so-called risk-retention requirement is aimed at preventing future housing meltdowns because lenders could face steeper losses if their loans go bad.
If regulators go along with the San Francisco bank’s proposal, mortgage lenders still could make loans with down payments lower than 30%. But those loans would be more costly for the banks because of the risk-retention requirement. Lenders likely would pass those costs along to borrowers in the form of higher interest rates.