One comment that I hear from real estate agents and lay people alike is that “it’s hard to get a mortgage; so hard, in fact, that no one can get one”.  This is just NOT true!  In reality, lenders are lending at a healthy pace.  Interest rates continue to cooperate and there are many programs for customers.  It’s just that lenders, for the most part, only approve borrowers now that can demonstrate their ABILITY to repay (via income verification)   and their WILLINGNESS to repay (via credit scoring and automated underwriting systems).

That being said, as I look ahead, the mortgage product menu is looking a bit blurry:

Let’s start with FHA…rumors are stronger about increasing the minimum down payment from 3.5% to 5%…there is also talk of cutting back the allowable seller’s concession from 6% to 3%…but further, the maximum loan limit allowable under FHA was inflated to assist in the housing recovery and that is set to expire later this year. Predictions vary on the cut range, but I think a $100,000+ reduction is likely. Is the government trying to lessen demand for FHA insured financing? Seems like they are.

Well, what about Conventional loans? Conforming products (typically underwritten to FannieMae or FreddieMac guidelines) seem okay for now, assuming the GSEs stay in business. But, Jumbo loans (those in excess of the $729,250 amount for a one family home) are facing the 5% Risk Retention requirements being brought on by QRM Rules. How will lenders price loans where they need to set aside 5% of the loan amount in reserve?

At the same time, Jumbo lenders are starting to explore different options for qualification. I am hearing things like “average monthly deposits as support for income when tax returns might appear insufficient” and such. This looks like more aggressive lending beginning to reappear in the non-conforming world.

With inflation starting to heat up, and rates likely to move higher, look for lenders to start offering more adjustable rate mortgages to help people qualify.  It is the standard reaction when the hike in rates either scares buyers back to their apartments or puts unlocked loans which are in process in jeopardy of not remaining approved.

My advice stays the same.  Pigs get slaughtered.  If you can get a mortgage today, at these rates, and with these guidelines, TAKE IT.  Too many people will regret missing this wonderful opportunity that 2011 has presented them.

Article from KCM Blog


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