Sometimes lenders will drop their trousers to gain someone's business. Maybe they got him on another property or a second, did the Joe the reporter actually check the WHOLE deal?
Yes, this looks harmless. He got the better loan rates because of his/hers spike in income and NT wanted the business. The rest of the article is below.
In Obama's case, he received a lower rate than the average offered at the time in Chicago for similarly structured jumbo loans. He secured his final mortgage commitment on June 8, 2005, and during that week, rates on similar loans for which information is available averaged 5.93 percent, according to HSH Associates, which surveys lenders. Another survey firm, Bankrate.com, placed the average at 6 percent.
"It's certainly safe to say that this borrower did better than average," said Keith Gumbinger, an HSH vice president, noting that consumer rates vary widely. "It's a good deal."
When the Obamas secured the loan, their income had risen dramatically. Obama assumed his Senate seat in January 2005, with an annual salary of $162,100. That same month, Random House agreed to reissue an Obama memoir, for which it originally paid $40,000, as part of a $2.27 million deal that included two future nonfiction books and a children's book.
Around the same time, the University of Chicago Hospitals promoted Michelle Obama to a vice president and more than doubled her pay, to $317,000.
The couple wanted to step up from their $415,000 condo. They chose a house with six bedrooms, four fireplaces, a four-car garage and 5 1/2 baths, including a double steam shower and a marble powder room. It had a wine cellar, a music room, a library, a solarium, beveled glass doors and a granite-floored kitchen.
Jumbo loans are for amounts up to $650,000, but the Obamas' $1.32 million loan was so large that few comparables are available.
Unlike Countrywide, where leaked internal e-mails documented a special discount program for friends of chief executive Angelo Mozilo, Northern Trust says it has no formal program to provide discounts to public officials. Loan officers may consider a borrower's occupation when establishing an interest rate, the bank said.
"The bottom line is, this was a business proposition for us," he said. "Our business model is to service and pursue successful individuals, families and institutions."
Obama's house purchase has been a source of controversy. In 2006, the Chicago Tribune reported that on the day of the closing, the wife of Obama's longtime friend and fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko closed on an adjoining lot that had been the estate's side yard.
The Obamas bought the house for $300,000 less than the asking price of $1.95 million, while Rezko's wife, Rita, bought the neighboring lot for the full asking price of $625,000. Rita Rezko later sold a portion of the undeveloped lot to the Obamas, enlarging the senator's yard.
Tony Rezko already had been linked to a grand jury investigation involving public corruption. Last month, he was convicted of 16 counts in an influence-peddling scheme that reached the highest levels of Illinois state government.