HARRISBURG (AP) -- Gov. Ed Rendell signed five bills Tuesday designed to combat foreclosures by toughening regulations for home-lending professionals and providing more information to buyers.
The bills, passed last week by the Legislature, stem from a 2005 study by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking. The issue gained urgency last year when foreclosures began to rise.
Under the new laws, mortgage brokers must be licensed by the state and undergo training on mortgage laws.
Appraisers, who were accused of sometimes inflating home values and causing people to borrow more than the value of properties, will be subject to scrutiny by the Banking Department and the Attorney General's Office; they will also face a larger maximum penalty of $10,000.
Home buyers will be able to view Banking Department records to see a history of enforcement actions, such as fines and penalties, against mortgage bankers and brokers. Previous law barred the release of that information.
In addition, lenders will no longer be able to tack prepayment penalties on mortgages worth less than $218,783 -- a number that will rise with inflation.
Separately, a regulation that is nearing approval would require mortgage companies to prove that a borrower can repay the loan being offered, the Rendell administration said.