Freddie Mac loosening up on Large Deposits

mortgageporterraiseDocumenting large deposits on bank statements has been a royal pain in the behind for many borrowers going through the mortgage process.  I am very pleased to share with you that Freddie Mac has updated guidelines that lenders, including Mortgage Master, are embracing.

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Fannie Mae to increase minimum down payment in November

Fannie Mae is scheduled to update their automated underwriting system (aus) Desktop Underwriter (DU) to DU Version 9.1 on November 16, 2013.  In their release notes from August 20, 2013, Fannie Mae reveals that for they will increase the minimum down payment from 3% to 5% for Fannie Mae conventional loans.

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How does a Loan Mod impact buying your next home?

Many home owners who were unable to refinance and did not qualify for special programs like HARP opted for a loan modification (or loan mod). A loan mod is when the existing mortgage terms are adjusted or modified, in most often cases to reduce the mortgage payment.

To be clear, I am not in the “loan mod” part of the mortgage industry. My focus is on helping Washington home buyers and home owners with mortgages for purchasing a home or refinancing their mortgage.  With my mortgage practice, I do come across home owners who have had a loan mod and they are often surprised to learn how it may impact their odds buying a home. 

Many lenders view a loan modification, if done for reasons of financial distress, as a “pre-foreclosure” or short sale.

A lot will weigh on the borrowers credit report. Lenders will look to see how the loan mod was reported to the bureaus. For example, some lenders may have added language to the credit report such as “PAYING UNDER PARTIAL AGREEMENT” or “LOAN MODIFIED…” which indicates a loan modification has taken place. Lenders will weigh if the borrower had late mortgage payments, how late the payments were and how recent the last late payment took place. 

It’s also possible that the loan mod may not prevent you from buying your next home depending on your circumstances and how the loan mod was reported to the bureaus.

If you’ve had a loan modification in the past few years and are considering buying your next home, you will want to connect with a mortgage professional as soon as possible to see what your options are. 

If you are considering a loan mod, please review this information from Washington State DFI. Another great website for you to check out if you are a Washington state homeowner in distress is www.homeownership.wa.gov.

If you are considering buying a home located in Washington state, I’m happy to help you. Worse case, if you are not able to “buy now” we can work on a plan together so that you’ll be in a better position in the future.

Reader Question: Do underwriting guidelines vary between lenders?

I recently received this email from a Mortgage Porter subscriber:

Do different banks need different underwriting documents? I am talking to two lenders now, and one will give me a lower rate but asks for the bank statement from my family which wires me money; the other one has a higher rate but only needs a gift letter. Is it because some banks are more strict because of their lower rate? Thanks.

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The biggest issue with buying a home today in Seattle

Yesterday I met for coffee with one of my clients who is hoping to buy a home in a Seattle area neighborhood for around $600,000. They have already taken one of the most important steps in the home buying process by getting preapproved for a mortgage.

The preapproval process required they complete a loan application and provide me with documentation that supports the information provided on the loan application (such as W2s, paystubs and bank statements). After having a complete application, I am able to run their credit reports and run the scenario through automated underwriting, which provides us with an approval and conditions to that approval.

Here’s a bit from our conversation with a few of their questions.

Is it challenging to qualify for a home in Seattle?

It’s really not that hard to qualify. Presently our underwriting guidelines will allow:

  • a low-mid credit score of 640 for FHA
  • a minimum down payment of 3.5%, which can be gifted by a family member. NOTE: FHA Jumbo’s will soon have a minimum down payment of 5%. In the greater Seattle area, FHA Jumbo’s are loan amounts from $417,001 to $567,500
  • VA home buyers can have a low-mid credit score of 620 with zero down payment up to $500,000. A $600,000 sales price would have a down payment of $25,000 with a VA Jumbo.
  • Home buyers need a two year employment history (sometimes your college education may count as an employment history)
  • Income must be documented and consistent. NOTE: if your self-employed, paid commission or hourly (vs. salary), you will need a two year history and income will be averaged.  NOTE: If you are planning on using your 2012 income, you may want to consider filing your income taxes as soon as possible.
  • Down payment and funds for closing must be documented with complete asset account statements. 

What are the biggest “hiccups” in a transaction?

  • borrowers need to continue providing paystubs and bank statements. Do not toss or shred anything that has to do with your assets or income.
  • large deposits (typically this is anything over $1000) must be documented…so if your Great Aunt Nelly is giving a wad a cash or a check for a birthday present at the time you’re getting ready to buy a home, keep documentation or proof of where the cash came from.
  • if you are planning on using 2012 income for qualifying, you need to file your 2012 tax returns as soon as possible. Lenders re-verify income (beyond W2s or 1040 – tax returns) with tax transcripts from the IRS via Form 4506. As we near “tax season” it takes the IRS longer to process and provide this information.
  • days prior to closing, employment is re-verified. If there are changes to employment or the employer is difficult to reach, this may cause a delay.
  • a “soft” credit pull is done prior to closing as well to make sure no new debts have been acquired by the buyer. If there are new debts, the buyer will need to be re-approved factoring in the debt payments.
  • If the credit report is getting ready to expire prior to closing, a new credit report will be obtained. This may have additional impacts to the transaction if there are changes to debts or credit scores. 

What is the BIGGEST issue with buying a home today in Seattle?  INVENTORY!  

This probably comes to no surprise to Seattle area home buyers in the $300,000 – $700,000 price range hoping to find a non-distressed home to make an offer on. 

If you have been considering selling your home, NOW could be an excellent time to consult with a real estate agent…and I’m happy to recommend one to you! 

As always, if you’re looking to buy a home or refinance your mortgage on a home located anywhere in Washington state, please contact me. I have been originating mortgages at Mortgage Master Service Corporation since April 2000 and I’m happy to help you!

How soon can you buy a home after a Short Sale?

EDITORS NOTE 10/6/2014: Conventional guidelines have changed since the writing of this post. Conventional guidelines now require a 4 year wait period regardless of how much down payment a borrower has.

A Short Sale, also referred to as a pre-foreclosure, is when a home owner sells their home for a lower amount than what is owed on the property with mortgages (deeds of trust). In order for a short sale to take place, the lien holders on the property agree to being “shorted” on the amount owed to them for the deed of trust or mortgage. Short sales became more common over the past few years following the mortgage crisis. Washington state home owners hoping to avoid a foreclosure, opted to try the short sale route.

A question I am being asked more and more is: “Who soon can we buy our next home after having a short sale?”  The answer depends on a few factors.

FHA has a three year wait period for borrowers who were in default at the time of the short sale (or pre-foreclosure sale). If the borrower was not behind on mortgage payments and installment debts at the time of the short sale and for 12 months preceeding the short sale, there may be no waiting period.

FHA tends to be a popular option as the minimum down payment is currently 3.5% and FHA is more forgiving with credit than Fannie or Freddie.

Fannie Mae has various wait periods depending on loan to value:

  • 2 years with a minimum 20% down payment
  • 4 years with a  down payment of at least 10%
  • 7 years with standard down payment guidelines (varies depending on credit scores)

Freddie Mac has a 4 year waiting period.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may consider “extenuating circumstances” which would allow a buyer to be considered eligible at 2 years.

VA currently does not offer guidance. Most underwriters may treat it as a foreclosure, which has a 2 year waiting period. Like FHA, if the borrower was on time with mortgage payments and other debts at the time of the sale and for 12 months proceeding, there may be no wait period.

USDA has a 3 year wait period.

NOTE: banks and lenders may have their own time frames that are longer than what is referenced than above. For example, many of the lenders we work with are not yet accepting buyers who have had a short sale two years ago. However, we do work with lenders who follow Fannie Mae’s guidelines.

The date of the short sale is based off of the date closed as disclosed on the final HUD-1 Settlement Statement from the closing of that sale. Potential home buyers should until three years have passed from that date before entering a purchase and sales agreement or a bona fide loan application.

Underwriters will scrutinize a borrowers credit history following a “derogatory” event, such as a short sale. Late payments on a credit report following a short sale and low credit scores will impact a borrowers odds of becoming “approved” with a lender. Lenders will want to see that the credit has been re-established with three to four credit lines in good standing with a two year history.

If you’ve had a short sale in the past few years and are considering buying your next home. I recommend contacting a local mortgage professional to review your credit report as soon as possible. There could be items disclosed on your credit report that you may want to deal with or perhaps you need to work on re-establishing credit. Starting early will help make sure that once your waiting period is over, you’re in a better position to become preapproved to buy your next home.

Please keep in mind that the information in this post are based on guidelines as of the date this article was published. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA guidelines change often as do lender’s underwriting overlays.

If you are considering buying a home located any where in Washington state, I’m happy to help you. Click here if you would like me to provide you with a mortgage rate quote.

Ben Bernanke says mortgage underwriting standards are too tight

In his speech at Operation HOPE Financial Dignity Summit yesterday on the challenges of the housing market and mortgage lending, FOMC Chairman Bernanke expressed concerns that mortgage underwriting has become “overly tight”. 

“…Some tightening of credit standards was an appropriate response to the lax lending conditions that prevailed in the years leading up to the peak in house prices. Mortgage loans that were poorly underwritten or inappropriate for the borrower’s circumstances ultimately had devastating consequences for many families and communities, as well as for the financial institutions themselves and the broader economy.

However, it seems likely at this point that the pendulum has swung too far the other way, and that overly tight lending standards may now be preventing creditworthy borrowers from buying homes, thereby slowing the revival in housing and impeding the economic recovery.’

Borrowers who have recently purchased a home or closed on a non-streamlined refinance would most likely agree with Ben Bernanke’s views on underwriting guidelines. And for the most part, I do too. Today’s home buyer will often find every aspect of their income, assets and credit scrutinized. For example, Form 4506 (which was once used primarily for stated or no-income verified loans) is now pulled on every mortgage in process to obtain a copy of the tax transcripts for the the past two years. Any discrepancies between the 4506 and income supplied must be addressed, which often leads to the borrowers having to provide complete tax returns instead of just their W2’s. If a borrower has deposits on their bank statements that are not easily identified, they can expect to show proof of where that deposit came from. Credit reports may disclose information that the borrower may need to address as well beyond the good old “inquiry letter”. Now they disclose information about activity associated to a borrowers address that may or may not relate to the borrower. Don’t get me wrong, loans are closing however the process for some can require a great deal of patience and paperwork.

“When lenders were asked why they have originated fewer mortgages, they cited a variety of concerns, starting with worries about the economy, the outlook for house prices, and their existing real estate loan exposures. They also mention increases in servicing costs and the risk of being required by government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to repurchase delinquent loans (so-called putback risk).”

“Putbacks” are also referred to as “buy-backs”. And buy-backs tend to roll down hill to the source that originated the mortgage, including  banks and correspondent lenders like Mortgage Master Service Corporation. This happens when the loan (borrower) is not performing. The lender will go over the loan documents with a fine tooth comb to try to find fault in the underwriting so they can justify sending the loan (forcing a buy-back) to the originating lender. This is why many borrowers are having to over-document their finances.

The Federal Reserve’s Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices indicates that lenders began tightening mortgage credit standards in 2007 and have not significantly eased standards since.

Ben Bernanke and the Fed cannot control the underwriting guidelines and overlays that banks have for mortgage lending. I certainly do not want to see the loose underwriting of the subprime era return. However I do agree that for the most part, underwriting has become pretty tight and I would welcome more “common sense” for well qualified borrowers.

Mr. Bernanke needs to brush up on Frank Dodd and how it will continue impact the mortgage industry and underwriting guidelines.

Your thoughts?

Quick mortgage tip for self-employed and commissioned paid individuals

Earlier today I was having a conversation with a self-employed woman who just filed her 2011 taxes prior to the October extension deadline. She’s eager to buy a home in the greater Seattle area and her 2012 income shows a continued trend higher. She’s curious as to how quickly she can use her 2012 income for qualifying.

Typically for a self-employed or commissioned paid borrower,lenders want to see the last two years complete tax returns and will basically average the last two years net income assuming their income is steady or improving.

I advised her to file her 2012 taxes as soon as possible if she’s planning on using her 2012 income for qualifying. Not only will the 2012 tax returns need to be filed before a lender can use the income, most lenders will require a the tax returns to also be verified by the IRS.

Lenders use Form 4506 to obtain a tax transcript for several reasons, in addition to verifying taxes have been filed. The tax transcripts are a summary of the tax returns which reveal items such as income and deductions for a specific year. W2 salaried employees may be caught off guard if they claim a lot of work related deductions as an underwriter will most likely deduct those “expenses” from their gross income. Any conflicts between the what has been provided to the lender and what the IRS is reported must be addressed. 

During busier times for the IRS, such as April when income tax is due, it may take several weeks to obtain tax transcripts for that year. Even if the earliest my Seattle home buyer can file is at the beginning of February, she’ll at least have a beat the April rush.

So if you’re planning on buying a home in the beginning of the year and you need your 2012 income to qualify, file your taxes early. Chances are, your lender may not be able to close without being able to obtain your transcripts. 

If you’re considering buying or refinancing your home located in Washington state, I’m happy to help you!