Do you feel that today's mortgage gudelines are hurting realtors from selling more homes?
Do you think it could be the buyer not being in a good position?
People, I get the fact that lending guidelines have become more strict over the last 12 months. I think I have seen it all in the 18 + years that I have been in the mortgage business. But in my honest opinion, I think the biggest hurdle has been the credit score requirements. But is it a challenge that can be over come in a short time period? Read more for my answer/opinion on this topic.
What prompted me to write about this was this article by Christine Ricciardi - Real Estate agents want subprime alternative for too-strict underwriting - Here are a few statements from the article.
I wish I could have interviewed all of these real estate agents. My question would be, "How are these down payment requirements too stringent?" "Could you please give me examples."
Let's review some facts. You can still get a FHA loan with 3.5 percent down. You also have USDA loans and VA loans which allow for for 100% financing. Sure, there are restrictions for these two types, but it is available. In regards to conventional loans, you can still do 97 percent financing, but the credit score requirements are extremely higher, which is why FHA would work out for more if it was a down payment issue.
Don't get me wrong, I am not one of these "must have skin in the game" type of advocates. FHA loans have been around since 1934 and for the most part, the down payment requirements were 2.25 percent down. So it's up to 3.5 percent now. Yes, depending on the purchase price, that could be another $1,500 to $4,500. But we aren't talking about $10,000 to $20,000 more. People need to stop writing that now is a great time to buy. And buyers need to stop thinking that this is the best time. It's always a great time to buy, when you are in a good position to buy. Read : When is it a good time to buy a house?
Ouch... I could write a whole book on this statement. "needing a High quality subprime mortgage program" Let's revisit history. In the late 90's, the government forced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make housing more affordable. This is when they came out with 100 percent financing and better yet, when they allowed these same buyers to have back-end ratios of 55 percent. My common sense says that you are just looking for trouble with this equation. We are talking about 55 percent before taxes being taken out. The borrower's gross income. Then the subprime market grew leading into 2000 to 2005, to where these investors would allow 50 to 55 percent one-time ratios, which would be a part of your front-end.
Quick education. Your front-end ratio is your principal & interest, plus taxes and homeowners insurance divided by your gross monthly income. Your back end ratio is the same formula, but adding on all monthly reoccurring debt, such as car payments, credit cards, bank loans, student loans, etc, etc.
The end result was that many investors got greedy and loosened the subprime guidelines. I knew loan officers that would put a decent borrower into a subprime loan because it was easier and quicker than getting them a FHA loan. Yet the FHA loan would have been much cheaper.
My problem with this statement? People making blanket statements, but not offering up solutions. Give me a few good examples of what the "subprime mortgage" should allow. I hated when people were calling FHA loans the new subprime after the demise of the subprime industry. But from what I know after 18 years, you really can't get much better than an FHA loan that still has decent guidelines than what a subprime mortgage would allow with less down. What could be the main argument? Credit scores....
The BAD Credit score argument
I don't want to point the finger at just realtors, because I think many loan officers are just to blame when it comes to credit scores. In my opinion, it's called, "setting your clients expectations to a certain level". We all want to help now. But many mislead or make it sound easy because they might have a 600 credit score program, but don't fully understand it. In my opinion, people should not be waking up one day and say, "I want to buy a house tomorrow". It should take some careful planning and consideration. In reality, people shouldn't be buying a home if their credit and finances are screwed up, especially in the last 12 months. Yes, I understand that things can happen unexpectedly.
Let's take a look at the credit scores. Many lenders want 640 or higher. Some of us can still do down to 620 or even 600. I get that there are some people with 590 credit scores who have decent credit, that would be in the category of 'less than perfect credit', but that they are still a good risk. I just closed on a VA loan in which the borrower had 592 credit scores in December of 2010. When they went to closing, I had their credit scores up to 638. I have another borrower who had a mid score of 598 in January of this year and as of now, their mid score is a 645.
Conclusion : I am hearing many complain that it's nearly impossible to sell homes because the mortgage guideliness are way too strict. Yes, you have issues when it comes to conventional loans that will only allow for a 45 percent back-end ratio if the credit score is a 720 or above. Or a back-end ratio of 41 percent for those with a credit score from 680 to 719. All of this is because of the MI companies, the mortgage insurance companies. And yes, you can do lender paid MI and such. But with a FHA loan, you don't have to worry about all of these differences. But given a few of my examples above, you can easily see that if a buyer speaks to a very qualified loan officer, they should be able to buy in 6 months. Sorry, but the mentality with so many realtors and buyers is that they must buy NOW.... and that is not the case. Waiting 3 to 6 months to get their stuff in order is not going to kill anyone. Besides, as I mentioned, buying a home should not be a split second thought, that you get up and do it now. As a buyer, if you know you don't have the best credit now, get with a true professional to help you get to that point. Articles such as the one I mentioned above, makes it sound like it's nearly impossible and because of it, it's hurting the economy. Yes, the economy needs the housing market. But there are way too many tracks that lead to the main station. One needs to truly understand the ins and outs of mortgages, and not just what they hear from each other, aka, water cooler chit chat. Just think about it...
UPDATE as of 5-14-11 2:15 pm - I just did some more reading and apparently some of us seem to be on the same page or have some of the same thoughts. The bottom line, many people want it now, and not to work for it. Two excellent reads below... please take the time to read these.
George Souto wrote : I want it now!!
Lenn Harley wrote : Mortgage loan denied!!! What??? I have excellent credit!! What's going on?