WASHINGTON — A legal safe harbor designed to protect lenders that make "qualified mortgage" loans from consumer lawsuits is likely to expose institutions to potentially even greater liability, according to several banking experts.

In theory, under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's final mortgage rules, low-priced loans that meet all the criteria of QM are supposed to be largely immune from consumer lawsuits. But lawyers are warning that in practice, consumers might successfully challenge a bank if it fails to fit any one of the many criteria laid out by the CFPB in defining the term.

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