HUD’s Net Tangible Benefit Requirement is Hampering FHA Streamline Refinances

HUD has a requirement that in order for a borrower to do a streamline refinance their  existing FHA mortgage, their scenario must have a “net tangible benefit”. FHA streamline refinances are popular today because they do not require an appraisal and FHA mortgage rates are very low.

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Mortgage loans and the first Presidential Debate

Did you watch the Presidential debate last Wednesday?  At one point, President Obama and Mitt Romney discussed regulations that are impacting getting a mortgage – namely: Dodd Frank. When you hear media discussing that some borrowers are  having a difficult time qualifying for a mortgage or that the process is cumbersome, odds are it’s regulations like those you’ll find in Dodd Frank that are the cause. 

Here’s a bit from the debate:

President Obama:

…the reason we have been in such a enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behavior across the board. Now, it wasn’t just on Wall Street. You had…loan officers…giving loans and mortgages that really shouldn’t have been given, because they’re — the folks didn’t qualify. You had people who were borrowing money to buy a house that they couldn’t afford. You had credit agencies that were stamping these as A-1 (plus) great investments when they weren’t. But you also had banks making money hand-over-fist, churning out products that the bankers themselves didn’t even understand in order to make big profits, but knowing that it made the entire system vulnerable.

So what did we do? We stepped in and had the toughest reforms on Wall Street since the 1930s. We said you’ve got — banks, you’ve got to raise your capital requirements. You can’t engage in some of this risky behavior that is putting Main Street at risk. We’re going to make sure that you’ve got to have a living will, so — so we can know how you’re going to wind things down if you make a bad bet so we don’t have other taxpayer bailouts.

Mitt Romney:

Let me mention another regulation of Dodd-Frank. You say we were giving mortgages to people who weren’t qualified. That’s exactly right. It’s one of the reasons for the great financial calamity we had. And so Dodd-Frank correctly says we need to… have qualified mortgages, and if you give a mortgage that’s not qualified, there are big penalties. Except they didn’t ever go on to define what a qualified mortgage was… 

It’s been two years. We don’t know what a qualified mortgage is yet. So banks are reluctant to make loans, mortgages. Try and get a mortgage these days. It’s hurt the housing market…because Dodd-Frank didn’t anticipate putting in place the kinds of regulations you have to have. It’s not that Dodd- Frank always was wrong with too much regulation. Sometimes they didn’t come out with a clear regulation.

Read the full transcript of the Presidential Debate courtesy of NPR.

I was actually surprised to hear “qualified mortgages” (also referred to as QRM or qualified residential mortgage) brought  up in the debate. Banks have been waiting for the definition of what constitutes a QRM for some time. One of the biggest concerns is if the government uses loan to value (how much down payment or home equity) to qualify as a QRM

It’s quite possible that in order for a mortgage to be classified as a QRM, a home buyer may have to come up with 10 or even 20% down payment when they’re buying a home. I would imagine that mortgages that fall outside of the QRM criteria will have much higher rates to compensate for the risk that bank will be taking. First time home buyers or those without larger down payments (assuming loan to value is one of the factors) will be penalized. Obviously this would not help the housing market’s recovery nor help our economy.

The Center for Responsible Lending reports:

QRM mortgages requiring a 10% down payment would lock 40% of all creditworthy borrowers out of the market. A 20% down payment would exclude 60% of creditworthy borrowers.

In my opinion, it’s time to move forward with common sense underwriting. We don’t need the government creating underwriting guidelines for those who are wanting to buy or refinance their home (the flaws with “net tangible benefit” requirements illustrates this).

Stay tuned…

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.

Should I do an FHA streamline refi if my rate is 4.875%?

This is a scenario I’m reviewing for one of my clients who lives in Seattle.  His existing mortgage is a 30 year fixed FHA at 4.875%. He closed on this loan after June 1, 2009 so it does not qualify for FHA’s reduced mortgage insurance premiums*. However, he can still take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates as long as the refi meets HUD’s “net tangible benefit” requirements of reducing his payment by at least 5%.

HUD’s Net Tangible Benefit requires that the “PIMI” (principal, interest and mortgage insurance) payment be reduced by at least five percent or the refinance cannot happen. This has been an issue for home owners who would like to refinance from their FHA 30 year fixed to an FHA 15 year fixed as HUD does not make an exception for those who would like to shorten their mortgage term if the payment increases — even if the borrower qualifies with documenting their income (some FHA streamlines do not require income to be documented). 

The Seattle client I’m working with is doing a “credit qualifying” FHA streamline refi for a 30 year fixed.  His current principal and interest is $1171.55 and the monthly mortgage insurance payment is $95.90 for a total PIMI payment of $1,267.45.  His new PIMI payment needs to be less by at least 5% ($63.37) which means his new PIMI needs to be $1,204.08 or lower.

As of 10:00 am this morning (July 6, 2012) I’m quoting 3.375% for a 30 year fixed FHA streamline refi with no appraisal (apr 4.554) with a base loan amount of $212,750.  After his upfront mortgage insruance premium credit from his existing FHA insured loan and interest rate credit, he’ll need to bring in about $1200 at closing. He won’t have a mortgage payment due until a month after closing and receiving a refund of his existing reserve account balance a couple weeks after closing.  

But what about the new PIMI?  Principal and interest is $957.01 and the monthly mortgage insurance is $210.85 for a total PIMI of $1,167.86.  The new refinance meets HUD’s net tangible benefit requirement.  

The Seattle homeowner is reducing their payment by $100 per month. **And after 60 payments and when the loan balance reaches 78% loan to value, the monthly mortgage insurance will terminate.  

**UPDATE 12/19/2012: FHA mortgage insurance will not be cancelled on new mortgages effective January 2013. It will remain on the life of the loan (until it is paid off or refinanced to a non-FHA mortgage).** Read more here.

*NOTE: If the FHA mortgage being refi’d was endorsed by HUD prior to June 1, 2009, the savings would be even greater as it would qualify for reduced mortgage insurance.

If you have an FHA insured mortgage and are interested in an FHA streamlined refinance on your home located anywhere in Washington, please contact me.  I’m happy to help you!

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.

Refinancing Guidelines Need to Loosen Up for Housing Recovery

This subject has been gnawing at me for a while and I’m actually surprised I haven’t written about it here before.  In order for the housing market to really start recovering, I believe that the underwriting guidelines need to relax.  Whoa–you say, isn’t that what got us into this mess in the first place?  Well, I’ll argue that it was more of folks being able to buy more than they could afford (via stated income) that drove up prices and put them into homes where they could never afford the the payments over folks who used home equity by consolidating debts or doing who knows what with the cash (hopefully they banked it…in a safe place).

Helping someone keep their home by taking advantage of the lower interest rates prevents a foreclosure or short sale.  Yes, we have the Home Affordable Refinance Programs (HARP) thanks to President Obama–but many don’t qualify and many who do are not taking advantage of this temporary program.   FHA Streamline refinances now require an appraisal OR no closing costs can be financed–how is that better for American home owners during this time? 

If it were up to me, I would make it possible for home owners who have demonstrated they pay their mortgage and debts on time and who have documented steady employment to have their appraisals waived and closing costs financed so they don’t have to dip into their hard earned savings to finance their refinance.  Now this does happen sometimes with Fannie Mae’s HARP program…but not with Freddie Mac (which requires an appraisal and limits closing costs) and not with FHA.

Why penalize home owners who’s property values have plummeted because their neighbors sold their homes via short sale, lost it due to a legitimate foreclosure or plain walked away from their obligations?  Why punish home owners who have been making their payments and who qualify on every other point EXCEPT the appraised value?  If their payment is being reduced, it helps stabilize the neighborhood and reduces the risk of default for the mortgage servicer.  Loan to values need to be eliminated on rate-term refinances where a tangible benefit for the home owner exists.

We also need to eliminate the securitization factors of when Fannie or Freddie bought the existing mortgage for it to be eligible for a HARP refi.  I recently had a client where it showed on Fannie Mae’s site that he indeed has a mortgage owned by Fannie Mae–it was not until we received an error message trying to underwrite it through DU (the automated underwriting system) that we called Fannie Mae to discover that the loan had been securitized (purchased by Fannie Mae) one day too late to qualify (March 1, 2009).  This person’s loan closed in December 2008, was sold the the bank and then took months for Fannie Mae to purchase.  This means this upside-down home owner does not qualify to reduce his payment by $250 per month.  Imagine what the $250 a month would do for him and/or the economy.  It gives him some probably needed monthly financial wiggle room and he just might spend a little more which helps our economy too.  (Loans need to be purchased/securitized by Freddie Mac no later than May 31, 2009 to qualify).

These are just a few thoughts that have been a bee in my bonnet… or worse!   Don’t get me started on home owners with existing mortgages that have private mortgage insurance hitting a brick wall when trying to do a HARP refi (most pmi companies are not cooperating) or not being able to include second mortgages (even “purchase money”) in a HARP refi.   Or how FHA insured loans will soon be more expensive for borrowers seeking to refinance or purchase with the increase of the annual mortgage insurance premium.

Please contact your elected officials in Congress if you have had issues with obtaining financing…they are making originating loans tougher and tougher as I write this post. 

I’m afraid it’s going to get worse before it will get better.  Many people who need help and who would qualify for the refinance with exception of the appraisal…are not able to get it.  Many don’t want to risk the cost of the apprasial (around $500) to attempt a refinance in these economic times.