What is a Mortgage Broker Bond?

Mortgage Broker license bonds are a subset of the broader license bond category that must be filed with the state government agency responsible for regulating mortgage loan activity in the mortgage broker’s jurisdiction as a condition of licensure for most mortgage brokers, lenders, loan originators, and loan servicers. The Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) handles licensing and registration for mortgage brokers and lenders in most states.

Mortgage broker license bonds must be issued by insurance carriers admitted in the state where the government agency requiring the bond resides. The insurance carrier issuing any surety bond, such as a mortgage broker bond, will also be referred to as the “surety company” or the “bond company”. Mortgage broker bonds refer to the broker, lender, or originator as the Principal, the surety bond company as the Obligor and the government agency as the Obligee.

Why is a Mortgage Broker Bond required?

Mortgage brokers are required to purchase license bonds by state and local statutes to protect a government agency by transferring to a surety bond company the cost of ensuring the public is compensated for damages resulting from a mortgage broker breaking mortgage license law. The surety company provides the government a guarantee (the surety bond) that the customers or borrowers of a licensed mortgage broker will receive payment for financial damages due to a violation of the statutes and regulations pertaining to the mortgage broker license up to a limit specified in the bond (“penal sum” or “bond amount”). The bond company also directly receives claims from the public and determines the validity of claims. Ultimately, mortgage brokers are responsible for their actions and required by law to reimburse the surety company for any payments made under the bond or face indefinite license suspension. 

Mortgage broker license bond violations triggering a bond payout may include a mortgage broker intentionally offering high-risk loans to borrowers, charging usurious interest rates on a loan, or providing misleading information to a loan applicant. 

How much does a Mortgage Broker Bond cost?

Mortgage Broker license bonds generally cost between .75% and 5% of the bond limit. 

Example: $20,000 Mortgage Broker Bond Cost

Credit Score Premium Rate Bond Cost
700 or above 0.75% $150
650-699 1.0% $200
625-649 1.25% $250
600-624 1.88% $376
550-599 4.0% $800
500-549 5.0% $1,000
 

The actual cost of a specific mortgage broker license bond can vary widely depending on the risk associated with legal precedent in the jurisdiction, the language in the bond form and the mortgage broker’s license history, experience and creditworthiness. Mortgage broker bonds required by a local government (city or county) tend to have the lowest cost, while state requirements have potentially higher costs and/or more strict underwriting requirements.

Is a Credit Check Required for Mortgage Broker Bonds?

Credit checks are required for mortgage broker bonds. Ultimately, the surety insurance company determines how it will underwrite and price a surety bond.

How does the wording in the bond form impact the cost of a Mortgage Broker Bond?

The bond form is a tri-party agreement which defines the rights and obligations of the government agency (obligee), surety company (obligor) and mortgage broker(principal). While many bond forms use similar language, each bond form can be customized by the government agency requiring the specific bond and may contain provisions that increase potential costs for the surety company, which will  ultimately be passed on to the mortgage broker via higher bond premiums, stricter underwriting or collateral. The primary text to consider in a mortgage broker license bond surrounds (1) aggregate limits, (2) cancellation provisions and (3) forfeiture clauses.

Aggregate Limits
Bond forms always specify the penal sum defined as the maximum amount of financial damages any single party can recover from the bond related to a single claim occurrence. Most bond forms also contain a clause which limits the amount of financial damages from all parties and all claims to a specific amount (“aggregate limit”), usually the same amount as the penal sum. For example, a $15,000 mortgage bond with an aggregate limit of $15,000 will pay out no more than $15,000, regardless of the number of damaged parties or claim occurrences. Mortgage broker bonds without an aggregate limit will be more expensive than a bond with similar coverage containing an aggregate limit.

Cancellation Provisions
Most bonds contain a provision allowing for the surety company to cancel the bond (“Cancellation Provision”) by providing a notice to the broker and government agency requiring the bond with the cancellation taking effect within a set period of time, usually 30 days (“Cancellation Period”). Cancellation provisions allow the surety company to cancel the bond for any reason, but most often due to the broker failing to pay premiums due, claim payouts, or material changes in the broker’s credit score. Mortgage broker bonds with no cancellation provision or cancellation periods greater than 30 days will be more expensive than a bond with similar coverage containing a standard cancellation provision.

Forfeiture Clause
Surety bond claims are paid by surety companies to damaged parties to reimburse that party for the financial loss incurred up to the bond penalty amount. Certain bonds contain a clause which requires the surety company to pay the full bond penalty to the damaged party, regardless of the actual damages incurred (“Forfeiture Clause”). Mortgage broker bonds with forfeiture clauses will be more expensive than a bond with similar coverage that does not contain the clause.  

Where can I find more information on a specific Mortgage Broker Bond?

To find information on specific mortgage broker license bonds, select the state and use our search function to find any requirement across the country.

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