DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, DECEMBER 08, 2014
Many potential home buyers are so leery about qualifying for a mortgage that they say they're not going to even try. Nearly 60 percent of potential home buyers say they want to purchase a home but they aren’t pursuing it because they believe their mortgage application would be rejected, according to a survey conducted by LoanDepot, a mortgage company. That fear has stalled many would-be buyers: Three quarters of them admit they haven’t even checked out current lender requirements, according to the survey.
But requirements over credit scores and down payments are showing signs of softening. Mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for example, recently announced changes that should allow lenders to feel more confident about the mortgages they approve, as they won't be subjected to costly “buyback” demands if borrowers become delinquent on the loan. These buyback fears prompted many lenders in recent years to tighten underwriting requirements and add extra fees to compensate for potential losses on loans to borrowers who have below-average credit scores, small down payments, or minimal assets in reserve.
he new policy “should encourage lenders to serve a broader range of qualified borrowers,” says David Lowman, a Freddie Mac executive vice president. It also should prompt more lenders to make “mortgages available to more borrowers,” added Andrew Bon Salle, an executive at Fannie Mae.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also plan to resume lending to buyers who can make 3 percent down payments (which is lower than their current minimum of 5 percent). The Federal Housing Administration allows 3.5 percent for a down payment, but hefty insurance premiums have made its loans more expensive than Fannie and Freddie’s, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Borrowers may find that lenders are softening credit score requirements too. In October, the average FICO score for all types of closed loans was 726 – lower than the widely assumed 750 to 760, according to Ellie Mae, a software firm. The average borrower at FHA had a FICO score of 683 during October.
"There are many people who can now afford to buy a home and qualify for a mortgage but simply don't realize it," Vance Edwards, marketing program manager for Mortgage Guaranty Insurance, told the Los Angeles Times.
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"When I decided to sell my home and look for a new place, my first call was to Jim and Ion Real Estate. He listed my condo and in two short weeks my place was under contract. Now, the real fun began, looking for a new place! The Ion Real Estate website was great. I loved the map function and the emails it sent with new listings that matched my previous searches. On Saturday, Jim and I headed out to look at several places I had picked to see. At the time I didn’t really notice how he listened carefully to everything I said about each place from the lighting to the layout. I was even a little sad that I didn’t find anything that day but Jim reassured me not to worry and a week later he had set up some more appointments. I still remember walking into my new place and just knowing. I had only taken two steps into it and I knew I wanted it.
Next came the easy part for me, but this is where having the right realtor and mortgage broker is essential. They make it seem easy! Jim guided me through all the aspects of my sale and purchase. I appreciated how simple each step seemed from making an offer to dealing with inspections. Even the loan seemed easy. I asked a ton of questions, I think it’s the teacher in me. I wanted to understand all the moving parts. Jim explained everything so clearly that I joked that he missed his calling and should have been a teacher, but he didn’t, I’m glad he is helping people find their homes!
Recently one of my close friends mentioned she wanted to stop renting and buy. I immediately referred her to Ion Real Estate. This time I was able to watch with an outsider perspective at the way Jim cued in on my friend’s preferences. Stephanie kept talking about the charm of old houses, a far cry from the sleek modern condo I chose. By the second house-hunting excursion, Jim knew just which home she would pick. As we walked up to the front porch, I saw Stephanie with the same excitement I had felt just a few months earlier. I watched her mentally move in her furniture and this time I saw the smile that crossed over Jim’s face when he knew Stephanie had found her home.
Throughout both experiences, it was clear Jim understands what people want in their homes and how to structure the entire buying experience to be a positive one. I have heard so many crazy stories from people that didn’t chose the right realtor or mortgage broker. They always start by saying, “I didn’t think a realtor made any difference.” It makes a difference! It made a difference for me and for Stephanie. Owning is better than renting; and, it is even better when Jim and Ion Real Estate are guiding you through the process!