Appraisal Waivers on Conforming Mortgages

Some conforming mortgages for refinances or home purchases may not require an appraisal. It all boils down to what the response is from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac’s automated underwriting systems on whether or not an appraisal is required. You may have perfect credit and tons of equity in your home, yet no appraisal waiver if Fannie or Freddie’s underwriting systems determine it’s not eligible.

Your next conforming mortgage might be eligible to not have an appraisal if it meets the following criteria:

  • Single family dwelling, including condos.
  • Primary Residence
    • Purchase: up to 80% total loan to value. (NOTE: total loan to value includes second mortgages and total HELOC credit limits).
    • Rate/Term or Limited Cash Out Refi: up to 90% total loan to value
    • Cash Out Refi: up to 70% total loan to value
  • Second Homes
    • Purchase: up to 80% total loan to value
    • Rate/Term or Limited Cash Out Refi: up to 90% total loan to value
    • Cash Out Refi: up to 70% total loan to value
  • Investment Property
    • Rate/Term or Limited Cash Out Refi: up to 75% total loan to value.

Here are some factors that may cause the loan to not be receive an appraisal waiver:

  • 3-4 unit property
  • Manufactured home
  • Rental income is needed to be used for qualifying
  • If mortgage insurance is required and the PMI issuer requires an appraisal
  • If the underwriter determines an appraisal should be required.

Not having an appraisal required can be a nice feature since it reduces the closing cost and is one less step from the mortgage process. A majority of my clients have benefitted from not having to have an appraisal, which I’m sure they especially appreciate during a pandemic.

Whether or not an appraisal may be required is determined after the initial loan application is submitted, the credit report is ran and the application is submitted to the automated underwriting system of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Sometimes Fannie or Freddie might not provide a waiver, so it’s nice to have both options available to submit a scenario to try to obtain the appraisal waiver. You should wind up with an answer on whether or not an appraisal is required pretty quickly after completing the loan application.

If you are buying a home and your application qualifies with an appraisal waiver, you may want to consider going forward with the appraisal, depending on your scenario and if you want to rely on the opinion of the appraiser for the value of your new home. The decision is ultimately up to you as the home buyer.

If you are interested in buying or refinancing a home located anywhere in Washington state, my team and I are happy to help you! Click here to start the preapproval process or here for a rate quote based on your scenario.

Appraisals waived for some refinances!

mortgageporterhomeFannie Mae will begin offering appraisal waivers on some refinance transactions. This is great news as it will help transactions that qualify have a quicker closing and help reduce the work load for appraisers which will hopefully help expedite current appraisal turn-times. This will also help home owners save money on their transaction by not having to pay an appraisal fee, which have gone up dramatically over the last few months. [Read more…]

You just “won” the highest bid on a hot Seattle home… now what?

2015-04-29_0814The Puget Sound Business Journal recently posted an article about a 1,100 square foot home in Ballard that sold $158,000 over list price. There is no denying that Seattle’s real estate market is hot largely due to lack of inventory and rising rents. (A’ hem…if you have been considering selling your Seattle area home, now could be the time).

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Steps in the Mortgage Process

iStock_000003709509SmallEDITORS NOTE 10/23/2015: This post has been updated to include the new disclosures and wait periods required per the Dodd Frank Act effective on loan applications dated October 3, 2015 and later. Click here to read the updated post.

The process of getting a mortgage consists of several stages and typically takes anywhere from 20 – 40 days (or more) depending on how prepared you are, what mortgage program you have selected and if it’s a purchase, the closing date may dictate how long the process will take. The steps below may not take place in the exact order I have listed and some steps may happen simultaneously.

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Seattle Rising Home Prices is Good News for Refinancing

If you have been waiting for Congress to pass HARP 3.0 or have been previously turned down for a refinance because of lost equity in your home, you might consider trying to refinance again.

[Read more…]

Reader Question: Should I Wait to Refi?

One of my returning clients is considering a refinance, however, they’re not sure if they should wait or not.  Their Seattle area home is really close to that magically 80% loan to value – based on best estimates – which would allow them to avoid private mortgage insurance if their home’s value increases.

There are pros and cons to waiting to a refi, similar to those with having an extended closing when you’re buying a home.  Here are a few:

  • changes to home value. Your home’s value may increase as the Seattle markets seems to be doing well with purchase inventory… or a home in the neighborhood that’s a potentially a strong comparable for your appraisal might become a short sale or foreclosure, which may negatively impact your home’s appraised value.
  • changes to employment. If your or your spouse decides to change jobs and it’s not in the same line of work or the new job has a different pay structure, this may impact qualifying.
  • credit scores vary. Credit scores impact the pricing of your rate and underwriting decisions. Lately I’ve been encountering clients who have paid off credit cards and closed them which sounds great, however they now have “shallow credit” and lower credit scores. I’ve also seen late payments on a credit report caused by a parent co-signing for their child. Sometimes it may be worth deciding to delay a refi if you’re trying to improve your scores, or proceeding with the refi and rechecking scores prior to closing.
  • interest rates. Mortgage rates change daily. Sometimes rates change throughout the day. Although it’s anticipated that mortgage rates will remain low for the remainder of the year, members of the Fed have hinted that the Fed should consider no longer buying mortgage backed securities, which has kept rates at their manipulated lower levels. As the economy improves, mortgage rates tend to trend higher.
  • loan programs and guidelines may change. Currently, unless our elected officials take action, HARP 2.0 is set to expire at the end of this year. Banks and lenders currently adjust their underwriting guidelines (aka overlays). And we’re waiting for FHA to increase their mortgage insurance premiums which impacts FHA streamline and non-streamline refi’s. 

Refinancing now is gambling that your home will appraise high enough or you may be out the appraisal fee unless mortgage insurance or a piggy-back second mortgage makes sense to proceed with the refi.

Delaying the refinance adds other potential risk factors assuming you’re satisfied with the current low mortgage rates and you qualify.

I recommend reviewing possible refinance options that are available now and weigh out the pro’s and cons. Refinancing now, should you decide to, also means that you’re reducing your payment and higher interest sooner. 

If you are interested in a mortgage rate quote for your refinance or purchase of a home located anywhere in Washington, click here.  I’m happy to help you!

FHA Streamlined Refinance: Credit vs Non-Credit Qualifying

With an FHA streamlined refi, most folks have the misconception due to the program name “streamlined” that the refinances are close very quickly and are a slam dunk with little to no paperwork. While they do close quicker than a typical refinance since more often than not, you’re not waiting on an appraisal, if you’re going for a lower cost or better rate, you’re probably opting for a “credit qualifying” FHA streamlined refi. What’s the difference?

FHA streamlined credit qualifying basically means that the borrower is providing income and asset documents, just like a regular refinance. By providing documentation that shows they actually qualify for the new mortgage, lenders provide preferred pricing. Since it is a “manual” underwrite (a real human is underwriting the loan and not a computer program) the debt to income ratio is limited to 45%.

FHA streamlined non-credit qualifying is when income documentation is not provided and not stated on the loan application. The borrower’s income is not a consideration. Because of the higher risk, the rate or pricing is often slightly higher.

EDITORS NOTE: Rates quoted below are expired (years old!!)for a current mortgage rate quote for your home in Washington state, click here.

Right now (July 25, 2012 at 11:00 am) I’m working on a quote for an FHA streamlined refinance for a home located in Seattle. The rates quoted below are based on mid credit scores of 680 –  720 with no appraisal and the base loan amount is $289,000.

FHA credit qualifying 30 year fixed: 3.375% (apr 4.548) priced with just over 1 point in rebate credit which will cover closing cost and some of the prepaids/reserves. Principal and interest payment is $1300.01.

FHA non-credit qualifying 30 year fixed: 3.750% (apr 4.934) priced just under 1 point (about 0.25% difference in fee) which covers closing cost and some of the prepaids/reserves. Principal and interest payment is $1361.82.

NOTE: for a current rate quote on a home located anywhere in Washington state, based on today’s pricing and your scenario, click here.

What type of supporting documentation is required?  This is in additional to a complete loan application and credit report.

Non-credit qualifying:

  • Copy of your existing mortgage Note
  • Copy of your mortgage statement (we need to document a “Net Tangible Benefit”)
  • Bank statement (all pages) if funds are due at closing. Large deposits may be required to be documented.
  • Drivers license
  • Social security card
  • Payoff obtained from escrow company documenting that the current month’s mortgage payment has been made

Credit qualifying: all the above, plus…

  • last two years W2s
  • last two years tax returns (if self employed)
  • most recent paystubs documenting 30 days of income
  • most recent bank statements (all pages) documenting at least funds for closing. Large deposits may be required to be documented.

Additional documentation may be required depending on your personal scenario.

Whether you opt for non-credit qualifying or credit qualifying is your choice and depends on your financial scenario. When rates and pricing are the same for both scenarios, most would opt for “non-credit” qualifying. Since recent changes with how HUD prices FHA mortgage insurance for some loans, there has been major changes with which banks are offering FHA streamlines and how they’re pricing them.

If I can help you refinance your FHA loan on your home located anywhere in Washington state, please contact me.

FHA Streamlined Refi Revamped and Revisited

There is a lot of interest in the FHA streamlined refinance since HUD has greatly reduced the mortgage insurance premiums for some home owners who originated their existing FHA mortgage May 2009 and earlier. FHA streamlined refinances are designed to reduce mortgage payments and borrowers are not allowed to take “cash out” or pay off existing helocs or second mortgages. In order to qualify for an FHA streamlined refiance, the borrower must have made at least six payments on the FHA loan and needs to be current with the mortgage.  Here are a few tips on FHA streamlined refinances I thought I’d share with you.

No appraisal required. If you opt to not have an appraisal, then your new loan amount may not exceed your current loan amount. This means that your closing cost and prepaids/reserves cannot be financed (upfront mortgage insurance is still allowed to be rolled into the loan). Closing cost and prepaids/reserves may be paid for with interest rate rebate credit or cash at closing.  If you opt to have an appraisal, then your loan amount may be increased.

Credit qualifying vs non credit qualifying.  FHA streamline refi’s may not require verification of your income or assets (non-credit qualifying). Did you know that you may qualify for improved pricing if you opt for a credit qualifying FHA streamlined refi? Pricing varies throughout the day and when I’m locking an FHA streamlined refi for a Washington area homeowner, if pricing is the same, I’ll opt for non-credit qualifying. However if pricing is improved for a credit qualifying streamlined refinance, I’ll advise my client of the pricing differences and let them decide which route they prefer.

Underwriting overlays. Although HUDs guidelines might state something different, the banks and lenders we work with allow us to help home owners who have a low-mid credit score of 640 or higher. If your credit score is below 640, you may want to consider working directly with your bank.

Net tangible benefit. HUD requires that the loan “makes sense” and that is defined as a reduction in your mortgage payment (principal, interest and mortgage insurance) of at least 5%. It may also mean refinancing your FHA ARM into an FHA fixed rate product. Unfortunately, if you’re refinancing an FHA 30 year to a FHA 15 year fixed rate product, and your payment does not go down by 5%, you will not meet the current “net tangible benefit” requirement – even if you’re doing a “credit qualifying” FHA streamlined refinance and fully disclosing your income. This is something HUD needs to correct, in my opinion.

Reduced mortgage insurance premiums. HUD has announced reduced mortgage insurance premiums (both annual and upfront) for FHA loans that were endorsed (insured) by HUD prior to June 1, 2009.  FHA loans are endorsed by HUD after closing – sometimes several weeks after closing so it’s possible your FHA mortgage closed in May of 2009 and not endorsed until after the cut-off date.

Credit of your existing upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP). If your existing FHA insured mortgage was originated over the past three years, it may not quaify for qualify for the reduced mortgage insurance, however, you probably will receive a refund of a portion of the original UFMIP. The refund is credited towards the closing cost of your new FHA loan and ranges from 80% to 10% of the original UFMIP by the 36th month.

FHA streamlined refinances are available for non-owner occupied homes too! If you have a home that has been converted to a rental property and the underlying mortgage is FHA, it’s eligible for an FHA streamlined refinance as long as the owner occupied it for a least 12 months.  With a non-onwer occupied FHA streamlined refinance, it must be done without an appriasal so no closing cost may be financed (except the upfront MIP).

If you are interested in refinancing your existing FHA insured mortgage on a home located anywhere in Washington, I’m happy to help you. I’ve been originating FHA home loans at Mortgage Master Service Corporation since April 2000, where we have in house FHA underwriters at our main office in King County.  Click here for your FHA rate quote.