Mortgage insurance companies tighten credit

 Loan Guidelines, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Mortgage insurance companies tighten credit
Feb 232018

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By G. Steven Bray

As you’re probably aware, when buying a home, if your down payment is less than 20%, your mortgage payment will include mortgage insurance. This insurance is the lender’s way sharing some of the risk associated with more highly leveraged loans.

We call companies that specialize in this form of insurance mortgage insurance or MI companies – pretty clever, huh – and they often have special guidelines that apply to loans that require their product.

Recently, the MI companies expressed concern about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increasing the amount of debt they’re willing to accept for a borrower receiving a conventional loan. Both now accept loans for which the borrower’s debts equal up to 50% of the borrower’s gross income.

Four of the MI companies announced that starting next month, they will require a 700 credit score anytime the borrower’s debt exceeds 45% of gross income. One company further is requiring a min 5% down payment in such cases. (Recall that it’s possible to get a conventional loan with as little as 3% down.)

I don’t expect this will affect a huge number of borrowers as most folks having lower credit scores and making small down payments find it more advantageous to use the FHA program. However, it does represent the first tightening of credit standards I’ve seen in a while.

Fannie sweetens HomeReady mortgage program

 Loan Programs, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Fannie sweetens HomeReady mortgage program
Mar 272017

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By G. Steven Bray

In an effort to encourage homeownership for lower-income consumers, Fannie Mae has expanded its HomeReady loan program. The program allows as little as 3% down payment and sweetens the interest rate for those who qualify.

The program has income limits in most areas, and until recently the limit was 80% of median income in many areas. Fannie raised the limit to 100% of an area’s median income, and in special low-income census tracts, the program has no income limit.

Fannie also changed the program to allow borrowers to own another home. This may be appealing for those who currently own a home and don’t want to wait for it to sell before closing on their new home.

The program is attractive for a couple reasons:

– First, the program allows for a higher debt ratio, up to 50% of a borrower’s income. In addition, the income of a roommate or significant other can be considered for qualifying even if that person is not on the loan.

– Second, Fannie absorbs some of the risk premium usually associated with low down payment loans. Fannie requires a lower mortgage insurance rate and allows a lower interest rate than is usually associated with these loans.

HomeReady borrowers are required to complete a homebuyer education course, and one naturally wonders whether that compensates for the lower risk premium assigned by Fannie. Time will tell whether the default rate on these loans justifies the favorable treatment.

FHA makes it easier to qualify with student loans

 Loan Guidelines, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on FHA makes it easier to qualify with student loans
Apr 292016

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By G. Steven Bray

Last fall, FHA changed its loan guidelines to require lenders to include a homebuyer’s deferred student loans in the buyer’s debt calculation. The change made FHA consistent with other loan programs. If a creditor didn’t report a payment for a student loan, FHA instructed lenders to use 2% of the loan’s balance. Unfortunately, this was twice the percentage other loan programs required and made it more difficult for many first-time homebuyers to qualify.

Well, apparently FHA heard our complaints. For FHA loans registered on or after 6/30, FHA has changed the guideline to 1%, consistent with other programs. (I can’t explain why they didn’t make the change effective immediately.)

So, how does this change affect one’s ability to qualify? Consider a homebuyer who earns $4000/m. She has a $500/m car payment and $20k in student debt. She wants to buy a $200k home, which requires an estimated FHA mortgage payment of $1432.

Under the existing 2% guideline, the ratio of her debt to income would be 58%, and she would not qualify. However, under the new guideline, the ratio drops to 53%, and she could qualify.