Record number say good time to sell a home

 Real Estate Market, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Record number say good time to sell a home
May 182018
 

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Fannie Mae’s housing index soared to a record high last month despite a negative reading from one of the index’s key components. The net share of respondents who said now is a good time to sell a home increased 6 points from last month to 45%. This good-time-to-sell sentiment has been on a steady rise for the last couple years, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have resulted in additional home inventory for sale, which remains very low.

Respondents also reported stronger personal financial conditions. They expressed an increased sense of job security, and more reported that their incomes had increased significantly in the last year.

The net share of respondents who think home prices will continue to rise jumped 7 points this month, and the average expected increase was 3.9%. While that might seem a negative for homebuyers, respondents said they expect rents to rise an average 5.7% over the same period.

The one black mark in the survey was the net share of respondents who think now is a good time to buy. That component fell 3 points last month. It’s likely the combination of higher prices, higher mortgage rates, and fewer homes for sale contributed to the fall. However, these same factors may increase buyers’ sense of urgency even if they don’t think it’s a good time to buy.

Fannie says consumers stoked about housing

 Real Estate Market  Comments Off on Fannie says consumers stoked about housing
Feb 242018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Fannie Mae says consumers are stoked about housing. Does this portend an active spring home season?

Fannie’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index rose to an all-time high in Jan with 5 of the 6 survey components improving. Interestingly, the only component that didn’t improve was the percentage of households saying their income rose significantly over the last year. That result may change as the tax cuts kick in.

Of the components that rose, the main driver was respondents’ belief that home prices will keep rising. 58% said prices will rise whereas only 6% believe they will fall.

Respondents also believe this is a good time to buy a home (by a 59% to 32% margin) and a good time to sell (by a 65% to 27% margin). The good time to sell reading was also an all-time survey high. It will be interesting to see if this translates into more housing inventory this spring.

Finally, I thought it was interesting given the recent rise in mortgage rates that the share of respondents thinking rates will rise remained fairly constant. I suspect that component also may change in the coming months.

Moving mortgaged rental property to LLC is okay

 Investment, Loan Guidelines  Comments Off on Moving mortgaged rental property to LLC is okay
Jan 292018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Investors in residential real estate have long been dogged by the “due on sale” clause in the standard promissory note. It states that the lender may call the note due upon the sale or transfer of ownership of the property. A preferred vehicle for ownership of investment properties is a limited liability company because it provides some legal separation between the property and the investor’s other assets.

Fannie Mae requires that a borrower be personally liable on a note, meaning the borrower must sign the note in his/her name. Fannie won’t allow the name on the property’s title to be different from the name on the note, so investors sometimes quit claim the property title to their LLC after closing. However, this could trigger the due on sale clause if the loan servicer chooses to enforce it.

I have great news! Late last year, Fannie changed its servicing guidelines so that a change of ownership to an LLC in which the borrower owns a majority interest is acceptable and does NOT violate the terms of the note.

A couple important caveats:

– The change applies only to loans purchased by Fannie after 6/1/16; and

– The title must revert to the borrower prior to refinancing.

Fannie still will not allow the LLC to sign the note, and it still requires the property’s title to match the borrower’s name. However, Fannie will allow the time the property was held in the LLC to count towards the 6-month seasoning period for a cash-out refinance.

I did check with Freddie Mac, and it has not followed Fannie’s lead on this issue.

Equifax data breach prompts Fannie to change guidelines

 Loan Guidelines, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Equifax data breach prompts Fannie to change guidelines
Jan 202018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

The recent Equifax data breach affected millions of consumers. One of the remedies suggested by cybersecurity experts was for consumers to freeze their credit files with Equifax. The credit bureau made it easy for consumers to initiate the freeze, so many followed the advice.

Unfortunately, cybersecurity experts aren’t mortgage experts, so they didn’t realize the potential ramifications of freezing one’s credit. Mortgage guidelines require a lender to obtain credit information from all three major credit bureaus. If credit has been frozen, the applicant must unfreeze the file before the lender can approve the loan.

Fannie Mae recognized the potentially significant impact of this situation and changed its guidelines. For now, if a borrower’s credit file is frozen at one credit bureau, a lender can proceed as long as credit data is available from the other two bureaus and at least one of them reports a score.

How mortgage credit scores are unfair

 Credit Scoring  Comments Off on How mortgage credit scores are unfair
Nov 302017
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Your mortgage credit score is based on a credit model developed almost 20 years ago, and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Watt says that’s not going to change anytime soon.

Many in the credit industry acknowledge that the FICO 4 model, the use of which is required by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is deficient. It doesn’t differentiate between paid and unpaid collections. Nor is it able to distinguish medical collections, which seem to have little predictive value of credit risk. It also poorly models student loan debt, which has ballooned in the last 10 years, and only incorporates negative information for rent and utility payments.

Congress is trying to force a change through The Credit Score Competition Act, which would encourage Fannie and Freddie to consider other credit scoring models, including the newer FICO 9 and VantageScore models.

Watt contends that Fannie and Freddie already consider the same or greater levels of credit data in their computer models that determine whether a borrower qualifies. He also notes the change would be quite expensive. He prefers to wait until after Fannie and Freddie merge their investment security platforms, slated for 2019.

However, Watt fails to mention that Fannie and Freddie impose a minimum credit score, which prevents folks from qualifying regardless of how Fannie and Freddie tune their computer models. Fannie and Freddie also use credit score for determining interest rates and mortgage insurance coverage.

The death of down payment assistance?

 Loan Guidelines, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on The death of down payment assistance?
Nov 032017
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Recent surveys indicate that saving for a down payment is one the biggest hurdles to homeownership. With rising home prices, that hurdle may seem like a moving target. Some homebuyers are turning to down payment assistance programs for help.

Well, Freddie Mac just threw cold water on one popular method of funding these programs. It’s called differential rate pricing or premium pricing. The lender provides assistance equal to 3 to 5% of the loan amount in exchange for a substantially higher interest rate. As Freddie correctly discerned, the result is a no down payment, higher-rate mortgage, which violates current conventional loan guidelines. As of 11/1, Freddie will disallow its use with low down payment loan programs.

I have not heard if Fannie Mae is planning a similar prohibition, but given that both agencies are owned by the government, one has to wonder. FHA officials have been squabbling among themselves for over a year about the legality of premium priced programs. For now, they are permitted.

If you’re struggling to find the funds for a down payment, I suggest you check out my Can I Qualify with limited savings videos for ideas. You also may want to check with your city or county for down payment assistance that doesn’t use premium pricing. Keep in mind that most of these programs have income and purchase price limits, and you may have to repay some or all of the assistance if you don’t stay in the home for 5 to 10 years.

Waive the appraisal to save some money

 Loan Guidelines, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Waive the appraisal to save some money
Sep 212017
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for a while now have allowed some borrowers who refinance their mortgages to forego an appraisal. Each has internal, computer-based valuation models, and if they feel sufficiently confident in a homeowner’s estimated value, they will accept it in lieu of an appraised value.

This month, both Fannie and Freddie announced they will start waiving appraisal requirements for some purchase transactions. The change could save a homebuyer $500 and shorten the mortgage process by a week or two.

Neither has released its formula for deciding when to offer the waiver; however, it’s expected that most waivers will go to homebuyers making large down payments, and that waivers will be offered on only 5% to 10% of transactions. Your mortgage lender will notify you of the waiver option after plugging your transaction into Fannie’s or Freddie’s computer-based underwriting system.

Even if you receive a waiver offer, you still can choose to get an appraisal. I suspect a significant number of homebuyers will waive the waiver and order an appraisal to make sure they’re not paying too much for their homes.

LLC-financed rental homes won’t prevent use of Fannie loan

 Investment, Loan Guidelines, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on LLC-financed rental homes won’t prevent use of Fannie loan
Apr 172017
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

One of the more frustrating loan guidelines encountered by rental property owners is the limit on the number of financed properties. Fannie Mae limits the number to 10 – 4 for best-rate financing. While Fannie hasn’t changed that guideline, it has changed which properties count towards it. Previously, properties financed through an LLC counted towards the limit. Now, if the borrower financed the property through an LLC so that the borrower is not personally liable on the mortgage, Fannie excludes the property from the total.

This should be a nice change for investors who use multiple financing tools to manage their properties. Investors often use shorter-term bank loans to finance the initial acquisition of a property, and bank portfolio loans often will allow a seasoned LLC to sign the note. Now, if the investor wants to roll a property into long-term, lower-rate, conventional financing, those short-term loans won’t get in the way.

Keep in mind that financed primary residences and vacation homes still count towards the total. Also keep in mind that some lenders will count a spouse’s financed properties towards the total even if the spouse isn’t on the new loan. Finally, remember that the limit only includes one-to-four-unit residential properties. Anything else, including land, commercial properties, and timeshares, do not count towards the total.

Fannie sweetens HomeReady mortgage program

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

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

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.

Get ready for larger conforming loans

 Loan Programs, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Get ready for larger conforming loans
Dec 012016
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

The maximum conforming loan limit is going up in 2017. This is the max loan size for a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage, what we sometimes call a conventional loan. The new limit will be $424,100, up from $417k.

This is the first increase since before the financial crisis. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 established $417k as a baseline and directed the Federal Housing Finance Agency to adjust the limit each year to account for changes in the national average home price. However, the Act required that the limit not rise until home prices had recovered to their pre-crisis level.

The FHFA set third quarter of 2007 as the official pre-crisis price level, and the price level in the third quarter of this year exceeded it by 1.7%. The increase in the loan limit matches that increase.

The new loan limit is effective Jan 1st.