Mortgage Rate Surpasses 3%

While mortgage rates are certainly not high, we can no longer safely call them low. The average rate for a 30-year fixed conforming loan is considered low when it’s below 3%. They’ve been slowly increasing. In the first half of August, it barely qualified at 2.99%. Now, the number sits at 3.06%.

As a result of increasing mortgage rates, demand for refinances has also decreased, dropping by 5% as soon as the rate passed 3%. Applications for purchase loans are less sensitive than refinance applications, and dropped only 1%. Despite the decreases in number of mortgage applications, the total dollar volume is still high, as a result of high prices fueled by heavy competition.

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More: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/18/mortgage-rates-hit-highest-level-in-a-month-and-weekly-demand-drops.html

Be Aware of Renovation Financing Options

Most people want to buy a home that’s move-in ready, but if you don’t mind buying fixers, there are a couple of finance options for you. This doesn’t mean just anyone can renovate a fixer — there’s a lot that goes into it, and you need to make sure you have the know-how or the money to pay someone who does. It can be expensive, and the payout is in the return on investment. If that’s much later down the line because you also plan to live there, that’s okay if you have the money, but it’s important to keep that in mind.

If you don’t have the money, you still need at least a decent credit score. There are two kinds of mortgages designed with home renovation in mind. The 203k Mortgage, one type of FHA loan, is meant for a vast array of different construction projects. In order to secure one, though, you’ll need a credit score of at least 580. Fannie Mae has a loan type specific to renovations, called the HomeStyle Renovation Loan. The max borrow amount is 50% of the total value of the home, and it’s possible to borrow against projected equity. It requires that the renovation be completed within 12 months, and necessitates a credit score of 680 or higher.

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Mortgages Keep Market Competitive Despite Lack of Job Recovery

2020 saw a large increase in mortgage originations, particularly refinances, as a result of low interest rates. It was expected that this would start to fall off in 2021, since interest rates are starting to go back up. However, they’re still low enough that refinances continue to be common. The statistics are a bit misleading for purchases, though. Low inventory is boosting home prices, accounting for a significant part of the increase in loan origination dollar amount even beyond increasing the number of loans originated.

Something is still missing, though. Even though much fewer loans are delinquent now than in 2020, the share of them that are over 90 days delinquent is increasing. This is because people continue to tread water through moratoriums, but aren’t earning any money. Jobs still haven’t recovered from 2020. Foreclosure moratoriums and forbearance programs are going to end eventually, and that’s going to be a problem for some people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic and haven’t been able to find work yet. If home prices continue to rise without an actual jobs solution, these stopgap measures are going to be the proverbial dam that causes the market to crash when it breaks.

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More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/mortgage-originations-will-2021-shatter-2020s-record/77747/

Steps to Take Before Buying a Home

Buying a home can be a stressful process, especially if it’s your first time. But there are several things you should consider beforehand to make sure you know what you’re getting into. If you come up with a solid plan, you won’t be as nervous when it comes time to make an offer.

The first thing you should do is check your credit score. If your credit score is below 620, private loans may be more difficult to acquire or come with high interest rates. Having poor credit may not be a good thing, but at least by knowing your credit score, you know you’ll be looking at a government-backed loan. If your credit score is good, you’ll have more options.

Examine your long-term budget closely. Keep records of income and expenses, and gather together your financial documents, such as pay stubs and tax returns. Not only will this help you personally understand your budget, some of these documents are used by lenders for prequalification or preapproval. Prequalifications estimate your ability to pay to give a solid idea of what range of prices you can probably afford. Preapproval is the next step, after you’re more sure of an area and timeframe in which you want to buy. Once you know what your options are, you need to research all of them. If you can, go to multiple lenders and shop around for the best interest rates. Be sure to ask questions.

Even if you get a preapproval, that doesn’t mean you can immediately breathe a sigh of relief. Preapproval is based on your current levels of income and expenditure. Lenders will be consistently re-checking these until the loan closes. If you make any sudden financial moves, they will know, and your credit score will suffer. Not to mention you may not actually be able to afford the house you plan to buy if you suddenly lose your income due to quitting your job, or drop a bunch of money on new furniture. If you are considering something major, call your lender and discuss it with them, before you decide to do it.

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How To Improve Your Credit Score

If you’re looking to buy a house, unless you intend to pay cash, you’re going to need to get a loan. One obstacle to getting a loan is having a low credit score — if lenders don’t trust that you’ll be able to pay them back, they won’t want to give you a loan. Even if they are willing to lend you money, they will do so at a higher interest rate. Your credit score ranges from 300 to 850, with 800 or above being considered excellent credit, though most people have a credit score between 600 and 750. If you want to know your credit score, or check for errors or fraud, you are entitled to one free annual credit report on AnnualCreditReport.com from each of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

The easiest way to ensure that your credit score doesn’t drop is to make bill payments on time. You may think that as long as the payment gets made, it doesn’t matter if it took a bit longer to get the money to them. That’s not the case, as payments made 30 days late or more can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years. If you are allowed a minimum payment, such as on credit card bills, even making the minimum payment on time is better than waiting until you have the full amount. If you do find yourself in debt, paying down existing debt will also increase your credit score. One thing that you may not realize affects your credit score is the timing of applying for cards. If you apply for several credit cards in a short time period, it looks like you’re wanting a large amount of cash very soon, and may not have the money to pay back loans.

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More: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/at-home/2021/05/05/homes-near-me-how-to-improve-credit-score-buying-house/4943218001/

FHA Loans Are Losing Their Appeal

The FHA has its origins in the Great Depression, as a method for people down on their luck to secure a loan without much upfront cost. Given the current recession’s similar circumstances, it may be expected that FHA loans would increase in popularity around this time. That isn’t the case at all, because now there’s competition. FHFA loans — those backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac — are currently a better deal.

The normally low upfront cost of FHA loans is countered by the fact that they have mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs), part of which is an upfront cost. This means that you are spending more over the life of the loan than with a conventional loan even with an equal interest rate. This MIP can be cancelled after 11 years if the down payment was at least 10%. However, the appeal of an FHA loan was the minimum down payment of only 3.5%, so this circumstance rarely came up.

But now, 3.5% isn’t even the lowest minimum down payment. FHFA loans have adopted a 3% minimum. What’s more, their upfront costs are actually lower, with no upfront mortgage premium. The MIP cancellation criteria are also different: The down payment amount and loan length don’t matter, and it can instead be cancelled whenever the home equity reaches 80%. Given that it’s rare for a house to be owned for 11 years, especially for first-time buyers who benefit the most from low down payment minimums, this flexibility is highly attractive.

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More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/are-fha-insured-mortgages-declining-in-popularity/77177/

Understanding Mortgage Payment Schedule

I’m sure you all know that when you take out a mortgage loan, you pay back the principal plus interest over the life of the loan, in monthly payments. But it’s important to understand that monthly payments are not simply the principal plus interest divided by the total length in months. Because the amortization schedule ensures that each monthly payment is the same amount, it may appear as though each payment is identical. However, this is not the case.

Amortization schedules determine what percentage of each monthly payment is principal and what percentage is interest. When you first get a loan, nearly the entirety of your monthly payments are used to pay off interest, with scarcely any reduction in the principal. As you pay off more of your interest over the life of the loan, a greater percentage goes towards the principal. When you sell a home that still has a mortgage, the amount of money you receive due to equity depends on how much of the principal amount is paid off. If it’s still very early in the loan’s lifetime, you haven’t paid much of the principal, so your equity will be quite low.

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More: http://blog.mattgoeglein.com/real-estate/an-overview-of-amortization-it-plays-a-role-in-monthly-mortgage-payments/

FHA Updates Loan Limits for 2021

The FHA has increased the loan limits for every category in 2021, a boon to prospective homebuyers who may have been negatively impacted by the recession that came with the COVID-19 pandemic. The two primary categories of loan limits are low-cost area and high-cost area, and each category has separate limits for SFRs, duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes.

For low-cost areas, your loan limits have gone up approximately between $25,000 and $47,000. The SFR limit went from $331,760 in 2020 to $356,362 in 2021. The duplex limit went from $424,800 to $456,275, triplex $513,450 to $551,500, and quadplex $638,100 to $685,400. High-cost areas saw an increase between about $57,000 and $110,000. For SFRs, it went from $765,600 to $822,375, duplexes from $980,325 to $1,053,000, triplexes $1,184,925 to $1,272,750, and quadplexes $1,472,550 to $1,581,750.

In order to qualify for any FHA loan, the requirements you’ll need to meet include credit score, down payment amount, and debt-to-income ratio. The credit score minimum is 500. If your credit score is below 580, you need a minimum down payment of 10% of the purchase price, otherwise the minimum down payment is 3.5% of purchase price. The maximum debt-to-income ratio for all debt is 43%, and 31% front-end. In addition, you must have an FHA appraisal and home inspection, cannot purchase and resell the home within 90 days, and must use the loan for a primary residence.

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More: https://www.foxbusiness.com/money/new-fha-loan-limits-2021

Securing a Home Loan After the Pandemic Struggles

With interest rates being low, many people are going to want to refinance or secure a new loan while they’re able to get a rate under 3%. They’re going to need to act quickly, though, since rates are starting to go up and the average is currently hovering around 3% for a 30-year fixed rate loan. But what if you’re in forbearance or were forced to declare bankruptcy as a result of economic pressures? Can you still refinance or get a loan? The answer is, well, maybe. There are different categories of lenders and different requirements.

If you’ve been able to keep up with your payments despite being in forbearance, you shouldn’t have issues qualifying, especially if your new loan is backed by the FHA or FHFA. You can also qualify immediately for an FHFA loan if you’re able to repay any missed payments in a lump sum, though FHA loans have a waiting period for lump sum repayment. If your new loan isn’t backed by a federal agency, the requirements could vary widely, but they’re generally more understanding about losses due to economic situations outside of your control.

If you had to file for bankruptcy, you will probably have a waiting period. If the pandemic was the sole cause of your bankruptcy, you may be able to get a new loan immediately from non-federal lenders, but the interest rate will likely be higher. For FHFA loans, the wait period is generally four years from the discharge or dismissal date for Chapter 7 bankruptcies. For Chapter 13 bankruptcies, it’s still four years from the dismissal date, but two from the discharge date. In either type of bankruptcy, the four years may be reduced to two if a one-time event out of your control is what caused the bankruptcy. The periods are lower for FHA loans — two or one year from a discharge, or zero from a dismissal for Chapter 7. It’s possible to qualify for a loan, with bankruptcy administrator approval, after being in the repayment period for at least one year of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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More: https://www.latimes.com/business/newsletter/2021-01-12/new-home-loan-forbearance-refinance-bankruptcy-business

CFPB Plans to Replace Debt-To-Income Requirement

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is planning to make some changes aimed at widening the accessibility of mortgage loans by allowing lenders more freedom in determining a borrower’s ability to repay. Currently, one of the requirements for a qualified mortgage (QM), the loan type preferred by both lenders and consumers, is a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 43%. This criterion is designed to be an indicator of the borrower’s ability to repay. However, there are other methods of determining this that can broaden the range of QMs. The CFPB’s solution is to compare the loan’s annual percentage rate (APR) to the average prime offer rate (APOR). Because a borrower with a high DTI would likely also have a high APR compared to APOR, DTI considerations are still indirectly included, but there will also be people with a high DTI but low risk of default that are able to get a good APR to APOR ratio and therefore successfully get a QM loan.

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More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/cfpb-sets-crosshairs-on-dti-requirements-for-new-qm-criteria/74918/

Lenders in uncertain territory, but hopeful

As a result of home sales volume dropping by 30% in Quarter 2 of 2020 from 2019, loan origination has also dropped considerably. The effect was somewhat lessened by low interest rates, which resulted in more refinances. The commercial sector, however, didn’t have that luxury. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) forecasts a 59% decrease from 2019 in total commercial loan amount, from $601 billion to $248 billion. The majority of this will be from the multi-family sector, which was at a record high of $364 billion in 2019 but is only expected to reach $213 billion this year.

Lenders are optimistic, though, as long as governments can continue to keep people housed. Vacancies aren’t great for lenders, as they reduce the prospects of landlords, and recently evicted people certainly won’t be looking to originate new home loans any time soon. The MBA expects 2021 to bring the number up to $390 billion for commercial loans. The catch is that commercial landlords aren’t protected by the recently extended foreclosure moratorium. If multi-family homeowners are hit with a foreclosure, all their tenants will be affected as well. Commercial property owners as well as lenders are looking for new methods of loan accommodations.

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More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/commercial-lending-plummets-in-2020/72811/

Demystifying mortgage insurance

There are two types of mortgage loan insurance, and it’s also possible to avoid needing insurance. Mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) are the type of insurance required by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). The other type is private mortgage insurance, or PMI. It’s easier to qualify for FHA loans, but private loans come with some additional benefits if you do qualify. Most notably, it’s only PMI that you can avoid; if you only qualify for an FHA loan and not a private loan, MIP can’t be ignored.

Private lenders generally have stricter credit score requirements than the FHA. In return, the higher your down payment, the lower your premium amount. Furthermore, if your down payment is at least 20%, you aren’t required to get loan insurance, so you avoid paying PMI. If you’re getting an FHA loan, you’re stuck with MIP for at least 11 years. On the bright side, the down payment amount to qualify for a reduction to 11 year MIP is 10%, not 20%.

Generally, the greater you can make your down payment, the better. Of course, paying all cash to avoid a loan at all is ideal, but not everyone can afford to do that, so keep in mind the important breakpoints. If you qualify for a private loan, putting at least 20% down is probably your best bet. Even if you only qualify for an FHA loan, be sure to put at least 10% down so that you aren’t stuck with MIP for the entire duration of the loan.

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More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/fha-pmi-or-neither/

FHFA delays additional refinancing fees

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced in August that it would be charging an additional refinancing fee to offset losses due to COVID-19. The new fee was expected to come into effect yesterday, September 1st, but at the last minute, the FHFA rescheduled it to December 1st. We’re still in the midst of a recession, so the FHFA doesn’t want to make too many changes too early.

The new fee exempts refinance loans with balances below $125,000, affordable refinance products, Home Ready, and Home Possible. Applicable loans, which are cash-out and limited cash-out refinance loans, will have 0.5% added to each transaction. While this fee applies directly to lenders, it also indirectly affects borrowers in the form of higher interest rates. While the FHFA certainly wants to recoup their projected $6 billion in losses, they’ve agreed that now is not the time; the economy still needs to recover first.

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More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/additional-refinancing-fees-delayed/72824/

Mortgage application rejection on the rise

I’ve previously mentioned that COVID-19 and the current economic downturn have resulted in an increase in mortgage forbearance requests. But what about mortgage applications? Interestingly, even as fewer people are able to pay their mortgages, people are still applying for mortgages, looking to take advantage of the current low interest rates on mortgage loans. And getting rejected at a much higher rate.

Lenders will always want to ensure that people are able to pay back the money they borrow. Obviously if the borrower has a mortgage in forbearance, well, that borrower doesn’t stand a great chance of being able to pay back a new mortgage. But even beyond that, lenders have been tightening restrictions in the wake of lessened economic stability. They are requiring higher credit scores, larger down payments, and more savings. Someone who was largely unaffected by the economic downturn may think they have a good chance at getting their mortgage loan approved. Not necessarily, if they were basing their expectations on old lender restrictions. Lenders are going to need to find the right balance between encouraging borrowers — since that’s how they make their money — and avoiding risky lending practices.

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More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/forbearance-requests-rise-while-mortgage-credit-availability-falls/72172/

Don’t let unemployment shatter your home-buying dreams

Record-high unemployment since the Great Depression is worrying for people looking to buy a home. And it’s true that it’s very difficult to buy a home while unemployed, since lenders are are looking for stable income. Unemployment income is considered temporary income, which lenders aren’t going to look at. Even once you find a job again, lenders typically want two years of continuous employment. Gaps in employment older than two years don’t impact your chances of lending negatively, though, so that won’t be a concern in a long run.

Another problem is that lack of income could put a strain on your credit score. While you will eventually become employed again, changes to your credit score can be much harder to erase. In order to maximize your chances of getting a loan in the future, you should do as much as you can, starting now, to keep your credit score intact. Always make minimum payments if possible. Ask your landlord and credit companies about other payment plans, deferment, or forbearance. Cut back on unnecessary spending. The good news is that even if your credit score does take a dive, once you’ve settled the debts and start to rebuild your credit, it shouldn’t take too long to get your credit score back up — roughly six months to year, meaning you may have already recovered your credit before lenders will consider your employment to be stable.

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More: https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/how-unemployment-can-affect-your-plans-to-buy-a-home/

Forbearances down overall, but not for private loans

Data has been showing that forbearances on mortgage loans have been trending downwards in June from the peak on May 22, albeit at a slow rate. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story. The downward trend totalling 158,000 is almost entirely from loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or FHA/VA loans. Loans backed by banks or private securities are actually up 6000.

This trend points to trouble particularly for self-employed borrowers. Even with some people returning to work or working from home as lockdowns are phased out, in an uncertain economy, self-employed people don’t have the same reliability of income. Most private loans are held by self-employed workers. Without a stable income, self-employed people aren’t certain whether or not they’ll be able to pay back their mortgages until the economy re-situates itself, so more of them are requesting forbearances.

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More: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/19/coronavirus-mortgage-bailout-shrinks-further-but-bank-held-loans-are-faring-worse.html