What is churning in mortgage?

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Churning in mortgage refers to the practice of repeatedly refinancing a mortgage loan to generate fees and commissions for lenders and brokers. This controversial practice can have significant financial implications for borrowers, as it often leads to increased costs and extended loan terms. In this article, we will delve deeper into the concept of churning in mortgage, exploring its mechanics, potential consequences, and regulatory measures in place to protect borrowers.

Understanding Churning in Mortgage

Definition: Churning in mortgage occurs when a borrower is encouraged to refinance their mortgage repeatedly, often without any substantial benefit to the borrower, but primarily to generate fees and commissions for the lender or broker involved. This practice typically involves convincing borrowers to refinance their loans, even when the new loan terms do not significantly improve their financial situation.

Mechanics of Churning: Churning often involves offering borrowers lower interest rates or monthly payments, which may seem attractive at first glance. However, these seemingly beneficial terms are often accompanied by extended loan terms, resulting in borrowers paying more interest over the life of the loan. Lenders and brokers may also charge excessive fees during the refinancing process, further increasing the overall cost for the borrower.

Consequences for Borrowers: Churning in mortgage can have several negative consequences for borrowers. Firstly, borrowers may end up paying significantly more in interest over the long term due to extended loan terms. Additionally, excessive fees and closing costs can further strain the borrower’s finances. Churning can also damage the borrower’s credit score, as frequent refinancing can be seen as a red flag by credit reporting agencies.

Regulatory Measures

Truth in Lending Act (TILA): The Truth in Lending Act is a federal law that requires lenders to disclose specific information to borrowers, including the annual percentage rate (APR), finance charges, and total loan costs. TILA aims to protect borrowers by ensuring they have access to accurate and transparent information about the terms and costs associated with their mortgage loans.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): The CFPB is a regulatory agency responsible for enforcing consumer protection laws in the financial sector. It has implemented various measures to address churning in mortgage, such as the Ability-to-Repay rule, which requires lenders to assess a borrower’s ability to repay a mortgage before extending credit. The CFPB also provides resources and educational materials to help borrowers make informed decisions about mortgage refinancing.


Churning in mortgage is a practice that can have detrimental effects on borrowers. By repeatedly refinancing mortgage loans, lenders and brokers may generate fees and commissions at the expense of borrowers’ financial well-being. Extended loan terms, excessive fees, and increased interest payments are some of the consequences borrowers may face. However, regulatory measures such as the Truth in Lending Act and the efforts of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aim to protect borrowers from such practices and promote transparency in the mortgage industry.


1. Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov
2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: www.consumerfinance.gov
3. Truth in Lending Act: www.govinfo.gov