Applying for a Mortgage When You’re Self-Employed

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QuickenLoans.com| May 12, 2015| Kevin Graham| Link

Anyone who’s been self-employed knows you don’t just sit around eating cheese balls and watching soap operas every day. You work your tail off to put food on the table and make a living. You can even make a really good one.

Because you’re not employed by a traditional business, there’s some additional documentation required to qualify for a mortgage. It doesn’t have to be a hindrance; it just requires a little preparation.

Employment Verification

One of the great draws of self-employment is the ability to strike out on your own and be your own boss. Taking responsibility for your own success can be very freeing.

It does, however make the process of verifying your employment a little different. What would normally require a phone call to your employer instead requires you to furnish a little bit of paperwork. The good news is you can provide any of the following as documentation:

  • Current statement of bond insurance (policy must be at least two years old)
  • A letter from your licensed CPA, enrolled agent or tax preparer
  • Letters from clients indicating service has been performed
  • A membership letter from a professional organization that can verify through your membership at least two years of self-employment.
  • Any state license and business license that may be required in your profession
  • Evidence of workers’ compensation and employer’s liability insurance
  • A DBA (Doing Business As) issued at least two years ago

If you’re using a DBA for verification, you must prove current self-employment with two months of recent business account statements, creditor statements or company invoices.

Income Documentation

Quicken Loans Mortgage Banker Dennis Spensley said one of the most important things a client can do to move the process along is to have income documentation ready at the beginning.

He went over what documents are needed if you’re a sole proprietor.

“When I am helping a self-employed client, I try to set the right expectation upfront,” Spensley said. “We’ll need two years of tax returns, both business and personal. We also typically need to have the client’s accountant prepare a (year-to-date) profit and loss and a balance sheet. If they have extended (their tax filing time) for the previous year, we’ll need a copy of the extension form and a profit and loss prepared for the previous year as well.”

If you’ve been self-employed for less than two years, it may be necessary to show additional documentation regarding the likelihood of continued income.

While the specific forms necessary are dependent on how you incorporate your business, in general, we’ll need personal tax returns (and, if it’s a corporation, W-2s) as well as a statement showing your portion of the business’s profit or loss. Profit and loss forms might include a Schedule C, Form 1120S or K-1, depending on your business structure.

It’s important to note that you generally can’t qualify if you show an income decline of greater than 25%.

Get Organized

Spensley also noted it’s helpful if you can separate your business assets from your personal assets.

“Self-employed clients typically have their business and personal assets intermingled,” he said. “If they can keep the funds that they will use for down payment and settlement fees isolated from their business assets in a personal savings account, that would work best.”

Depending on the type of loan, a minimum contribution to the down payment is required from your personal funds. Separating it from your business accounts will just make things easier.

 

It’s Business As Usual for Interest Rates

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RISMedia| June 19, 2015| Suzanne De Vita| Link

Prospective homebuyers may see a few more weeks of near-zero mortgage rates following news that the Federal Reserve will maintain its current interest rate policy. Economists have long anticipated a rate change in September of this year.

“The (Federal Open Market) Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its two percent objective over the medium term,” the Fed statement read.

Though the Fed does not set mortgage rates, its actions tend to impact those that do. After the unexpected employment gain in May, 30-year-fixed mortgage rates rose to 4.04 percent, marking the first week since November of last year that rates topped four percent.

“The housing market can handle interest rates well above four percent as long as inventory improves to slow price growth and underwriting standards ease to normal levels so that qualified buyers–especially first-time buyers–are able to obtain a mortgage,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, in a recent market update.

“You may see a 4.5 percent conventional interest rate by the end of the year,” opines Joe Petrowsky of Right Trac Financial Group in Manchester, Conn. “If the true employment numbers improve, rates should move up, but based on our current economy, it would be a bad move on the part of the Fed to raise rates. My sense is the Fed will attempt to raise rates throughout this year.”

In the interim, borrowers may choose to lock in a lower rate by timing the lock period with the projected closing date of sale.

A 15-Year Mortgage Can Save You $190K … but Can You Get One?

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April 8, 2015| Credit.com| Scott Sheldon|

One of the best ways to eliminate your mortgage debt is moving into a 15-year fixed-rate loan. With the average spread a full 1% compared to its 30-year counterpart, a 15-year mortgage can provide an increased rate of acceleration in paying off the biggest obligation of your life.

Can you pull it off?

In most cases, you’re going to need strong income for an approval. How much income? The old 2:1 rule applies. Switching from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year fixed-rate loan means you’ll pay down the loan in half the amount of time, but it effectively doubles up your payment for each month of the 180-month term. Your income must support all the carrying costs associated with your home including the principal and interest payment, taxes, insurance, (private mortgage insurance, only if applicable) and any other associated carrying cost. In addition, your income will also need to support all the other consumer obligations you might have as well including cars, boats, installment loans, personal loans and any other credit obligations that contain a monthly payment.

The attractiveness of a 15-year mortgage in today’s interest rate environment has mass appeal. The 1% spread in interest rate between the 30-year mortgage and a 15-year mortgage is absolutely real and for many, the thought of being mortgage-free can be very tempting. Consider today’s average 30-year mortgage rate of around 4% on a loan of $400,000—that’s $287,487 in interest paid over 360 months. Comparing that to a 15-year mortgage over 180 months, you’ll pay a mere $97,218 in interest. That’s a shattering savings of $190,268 in interest, but there’s a catch—your monthly mortgage payment is going to be significantly higher.

Here’s how it breaks down. The 30-year mortgage in our case study pencils out to a $1,909 monthly payment covering principal and interest. Weigh that against the 15-year version of that loan, which comes to $2,762 a month in principal and interest, totaling $853 more per month, but going to principal. This is why the income piece makes or breaks the 15-year deal. Independent of your other carrying costs and other credit obligations, you’ll need to be able to show an income of $4,242 a month to offset just a principled interest payment on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Alternatively, to offset the principled interest payment on the 15-year mortgage, you would need an income of $6,137 per month, essentially $1,895 per month more in income, just to be able to pay off your debt faster. As you can see, income is a large driver of debt reduction potential.

What to do if your income isn’t high enough

When your lender looks at your monthly income to qualify you for a 15-year fixed-rate loan, part of the equation is your debt load.

Lenders are going to consider the minimum payments you have on all other credit obligations in the following way. Take your total proposed new 15-year mortgage payment and add that number to the minimum payments on all of your consumer obligations and then take that number and divide it by 0.45. This is the income that you’ll need at minimum to offset a 15-year mortgage. Paying off debt can very easily reduce the amount of income you might need and/or the size of the loan you might need as there would be fewer consumer obligations handcuffing your income that could otherwise be used toward supporting a stable mortgage plan.

Can you borrow less?

Borrowing less money is a guaranteed way to keep a lid on your monthly outflow maintaining a healthy alignment with your income, housing and living expenses. Extra cash in the bank? If you have extra cash in the bank beyond your savings reserves that you don’t need for any immediate purpose, using these funds to reduce your mortgage amount could pencil very nicely in reducing the 15-year mortgage payment and interest expense paid over the life of the loan. The concept of the 15-year mortgage is “I’m going to have to hammer, bite, chew and claw my way through a higher mortgage payment in the short term in order for a brighter future.”

Can you generate cash?

If you can’t borrow less, generating cash to do so may open another door. Can you sell an asset such as stocks, or trade out of a money-market fund in order to generate the cash to rid yourself of debt faster? If yes, this is another avenue to explore.

You may also want to explore getting additional funds via selling another property. If you have another property that you’ve been planning to sell such as a previous home, any additional cash proceeds generated by selling that property (depending upon any indebtedness associated with that property) could allow you to borrow less when moving into a 15-year mortgage.

Are you an ideal match for a 15-year mortgage?

Consumers who are in a financial position to handle a higher loan payment while continuing to save money and grow their savings would be well-suited for a 15-year mortgage. The other school of thought is to refinance into a 30-year mortgage and then simply make a larger payment like you would on a 25-year, 20-year or 15-year mortgage every month. This is another fantastic way to save substantial interest over the term of the loan, since the larger-than-anticipated monthly payment you make to your lender will go to principal and you’ll owe less money in interest over the full life of the loan. As cash flow changes, so could the payments made to the loan servicer, as prepayment penalties are virtually nonexistent on bank loans.

There is an important “catch” to taking out a 15-year mortgage—you also decrease your mortgage interest tax deduction benefit. However, if you don’t need the deduction in 15 years anyway, the additional deduction removal may not be beneficial (depending on your tax situation and future income potential).

If your income is poised to rise in the future and/or your debt is planned to decrease and you want to have comfort in knowing by the time your small kids are teenagers that you’ll be mortgage-free, then a 15-year loan could be a smart move. And when your mortgage is paid off, you’ll have control of all of your income again as well.

Proximity to retirement is another factor borrowers should consider when carrying a mortgage into retirement isn’t ideal. These consumers might opt to move into a faster mortgage payoff plan than someone buying a house for the first time.

Keep in mind that to qualify for the best interest rates on a mortgage (which will have a big impact on your monthly payment), you need a great credit score as well. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com every month, and you can get your free annual credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com, too.

Before You Refinance, Look Into Loan Modification

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Realtor.com| Craig Donofrio| Link

For months now, we’ve been telling you to take advantage of lower interest rates by refinancing. But you know what? There’s another option to consider as well: loan modification. Wait, isn’t loan modification what distressed homeowners used to get through the post-2008 housing crisis? Well, yes, but it’s more than that. Here’s the lowdown, and whether it’s the right choice for you.

OK, what’s the difference? 

If you refinance your home, you’re replacing your old mortgage with a new one, whether to take advantage of lower interest rates or to reduce your monthly payment. This can be done by your current lender or a new one. You can choose a loan that’s similar to what you currently have—or something completely different. As always, your creditworthiness, equity, and loan type play a role in determining your rate.

When you get a loan modification, on the other hand, you’re tweaking your existing loan from your current lender.

Again, this used to be an option just for people struggling to make their payments—lenders figured that some money is better than no money. But even if you’re not falling behind, you might be able to get a modification in your favor—even reducing interest rates.

That’s right, your lender might—might—be able to give you a lower rate for a one-time flat fee.

That sounds like a deal almost too good to be true. Why would a bank lose thousands and thousands of potential dollars in interest for a relatively small fee? Tom Pasqualini of Hudson United in the hamlet of New City, NY, says it’s a client-retention tactic—it prevents you from refinancing through another bank. It’s also “the lowest-cost solution for a rate/payment change for a consumer loan they are servicing,” he says.

The availability of this service is subjective to each lender, says Pasqualini. “Conservatively, [it’s] 50-50 if they offer the service.” With so many private lenders all over the country, you’ll just have to ask yours.

How much it’ll cost you

According to Carlos Jaime, owner of CTC Brokers & Associates in Corona, CA, one-time fees can range from $1,200 to $2,500. Some modifications don’t cost a thing.

But there won’t be any hidden fees, which is good. “When you elect to modify a loan, there can be no changes other than the rate of interest associated with the loan,” says Pasqualini.

If you refinance, remember, you’re getting a whole new loan—at whatever rate and monthly payment you agree to. If you have a no-cost refi and the closing costs aren’t paid by the lender, then the closing costs are rolled into the loan or are “bought out” by your accepting a higher interest rate.

There’s one thing that loan modification can’t do, but refinancing can: write someone in or out of a mortgage. So if you’ve gotten married or divorced, and want to add or remove a name from the loan, you’ll want to refinance, not modify.

Use caution and run the numbers

Be careful what kind of modification you choose. Unlike a good refinance, certain types of loan modification can trap you in surmounting debt.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you get your lender to agree to an interest-only loan repayment period of five years, which reduces your monthly payment by $500, with the remaining balance tacked on to the loan. You’ll be paying $30,000 less over five years—but you won’t have saved that sum, you’ll still owe it. That $30,000 will be calculated into the loan, ultimately increasing your monthly payments by more than you paid before the modification. If you ask your lender for an extension and get one, you could be setting yourself up for trouble down the line.

In fact, a recent study found certain modification programs, such as the Countrywide program, actually induced strategic defaults, so make sure you fully understand any modification before agreeing to it.

Elysia Stobbe, branch manager of NFM Lending in Jacksonville, FL, says modifications can also come with teaser rates, just like mortgages.

“It can be a 2% teaser for the first year, then adding 1% each year for a few years, and then staying fixed in the 5% range,” says Stobbe.

Ask your lender

If you want to find out your loan modification options, you first want to identify who owns your loan (not the servicer). You can see if it’s Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae by using their websites. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both offer the government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program and the Home Affordable Modification Program. Both of these programs have broader income and credit requirements and may lessen your monthly payment and rates, if you’re eligible. Contact your lender for their requirements.

Even if your lender can’t offer you HARP or HAMP, it may have another option to help you out.

Making the choice

Choosing between a modification and a refinance can be tricky. Jaime says the first stop should be to see if you’re eligible for HARP for a refinance because of the program’s relaxed income requirements. If your lender doesn’t offer it, you’re ineligible, or you’re too underwater for a traditional refinance, it’s time to look into modifications. Consider the following:

  • How long will you live in the home? If you’re not planning on staying for the long term, it might be smarter to sell the house, if possible.
  • If you’re too far behind or too underwater, going into a foreclosure or short sale might be the better option. “If you’re delaying the inevitable and it’s unlikely you’re never going to reach that [equitable] value again, or take you forever to pay it back, you may be better off to cut the ties,” says Jaime.
  • How much does the refinancing cost, and how long will it take to break even?

But if you can just lower your rate for a one-time fee, you’re in the clear. It’s cheaper than a refinance, and if you’re moving in the next few years, just calculate your break-even point.

For example, let’s say a modification on your $250,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage lowers your interest rate by 1%, dropping your rate to 5%. That would save you $157 a month—$2,512 total—and you would break even in 16 months. If you were going to move before then, it’s not worth it.

Now let’s say you want to refinance using the same example. But since closing costs are involved, it’ll take you $5,000 to reduce your interest rate. You’ll still save $157 a month, but it’ll take 32 months to break even. But if you want to write someone out of the mortgage or change the loan type, this could be your only option.

Bottom line? Ask your lender. Call and see if it can reduce your rates and about what modifications or refinancing options it can offer you.

Which home loans are best for new buyers?

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Inman| Hank Bailey| January 19, 2015| Link

Renting can certainly be a solid choice while you’re saving for a down payment or repairing or building credit to obtain a mortgage, but recent findings show that homeownership is still a better deal. The cost to rent is rising faster than any other time in the last six years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while rental inventory stands at a 20-year low.

There is great benefit in knowing what types of loans are available that might assist buyers who require a low down payment so that they can become new homeowners in 2015.

In a recent press release, Zillow added to the conversation: “Over the past 14 years, rents have grown at twice the pace of income due to weak income growth, burgeoning rental demand, and insufficient growth in the supply of rental housing. This has created real opportunities for rental housing owners and investors, but has also been a bitter pill to swallow for tenants, particularly those on an entry-level salary and those would-be buyers struggling to save for a down payment on a home of their own,” said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries. “Next year, we expect rents to rise even faster than home values, meaning that another increase in total rent paid similar to that seen this year isn’t out of the question. In fact, it’s probable.”

Although the increasing cost to rent and lack of inventory might nudge renters into buying a home, the National Association of Realtors points out that tight credit standards, large student debts and the growth of multigenerational households are contributing to the lowest number of first-time homebuyers in decades. Additionally, we are told that rising rent prices mean less money to put away for that down payment.

Even with these difficulties, first-time homebuyers are projected to be more active in the 2015 housing market. These concerns about rising rents and other debts are a concern to first-time or new buyers, but we are also seeing options for homebuyers today. For example, new conventional loan guidelines create an open door for homebuyers even as the Federal Housing Administration has changed its fees and loan structure, making both less buyer-friendly.

Amy Buynoski, a mortgage banker and the vice president of Fidelity Bank, says that the benefit to Fidelity’s program “is it is not FHA, and the buyer can put 3 percent down, and it can be a gift or grant. Mortgage insurance will come off once they have the 20 percent equity, unlike FHA. There is also no upfront funding fee at closing. Credit score requirements are relatively low at 640, but this is subject to approval (based on the body of the credit and strength of the buyer). One buyer on the loan does have to be a first-time homebuyer or have no homeownership in the last three years, and they do have to take a class.”

Another option that’s not always available in metro areas but can be found within rural residential markets is the USDA rural development (RD) loan. There is no mortgage insurance with an RD loan, but like a loan through FHA, there is an upfront funding fee at closing, and it is a 100 percent loan. These are for purchase loans on primary residential properties only, and the loan has a nice renovation component that is much simpler than FHA’s PowerSave Pilot 203(k) loan program in case the buyer would like to make some updates or upgrades to the property after closing.

The downside is that it’s possible to make too much money to qualify, and the property must be eligible for the loan. According to Jennifer Sims of Homestar Financial, “FHA and USDA (RD) are both great loans for first-time and second-time homebuyers. The USDA is a true 100 percent loan in eligible rural areas if you qualify under the income limits for the county. FHA also has a great loan, which can allow gift funds for the low 3.5 percent down payment. Both allow medium credit scores with some open collections as well. The USDA loan is the loan that can allow you to get into a home for truly 0 percent down as long as the home appraises. Also, there can be a repair escrow feature on both loans. The USDA can authorize up to 10 percent or $10,000 (whichever is less) to make repairs for appraiser-required issues. And FHA has a rehab loan called the 203(k) where you can borrow between $5,000 and $35,000 for upgrades or repairs to your home.”

As noted, FHA is still the old fallback and perfect for buyers rebuilding credit; it’s a bit more forgiving of past credit indiscretions compared with conventional loan guidelines. The costs and limitations are real. Mortgage insurance is expensive, and it will never fall off the FHA loan. For someone who had a credit blemish in the past, an FHA loan might be the best route to take to get back into homeownership.

Get to Know the 3 Types of Mortgage Lenders

Zillow Blog| December 16, 2014| Linkshutterstock_119600434

Shopping for a mortgage can feel overwhelming. It’s intrusive because lenders require every detail of your personal and financial life to do their job. It’s complex because rate quotes and associated fees (also known as points) can be presented many different ways, plus rates change daily based on economic conditions. And it’s confusing because there are different kinds of lenders who all have a pitch as to why their model is the best.

If you know how to choose the right lender, you’ll feel more comfortable providing your profile and more confident when analyzing their rate quotes. Here’s a guide to the three main sources for consumer mortgages. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll know how to navigate the available information, and ask the right questions when you’re mortgage shopping.

Retail banks

These companies range from the biggest name-brand institutions down to smaller local banks and credit unions. They underwrite, approve and close loans for consumers, then either keep the loans on their own balance sheets or sell the loans to investment firms, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, who bundle the loans into mortgage bonds, aka mortgage backed securities (MBS).

Retail banks usually retain servicing rights, which means you would get your monthly mortgage statement directly from that bank, and the loan agent that handled your loan would remain your primary point of contact for all future inquires.

Advantages: Retail banks are usually a big brand or well-known local brand. These organizations can often be more flexible on loan approvals because they have the option to keep loans on their books, as opposed to selling the loans, which means more stringent underwriting. They also offer non-mortgage financial services like checking, savings, credit cards and financial planning, and they usually offer lower mortgage rates if you use them for additional services like a checking account.

Mortgage banks

Like retail banks, these companies underwrite, approve and close loans for consumers. They then sell the underlying loans to retail banks, investment firms, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, who bundle the loans into MBS.

Larger mortgage banks may keep servicing rights, so you’d get your monthly statement from the mortgage bank and retain your loan agent as primary contact for future inquiries. Smaller mortgage banks sell servicing rights along with the loans, which means you’d be contacting the new bank servicer for future inquiries.

Advantages: Your loan agent uses the many investors they sell to as a one-stop rate shopping process for you, and because they have their own underwriters, they still control the whole process from start to finish and can move very quickly.

Mortgage brokers

These companies obtain loans for consumers through retail banks or mortgage banks. The loan is funded and usually also serviced by the retail or mortgage bank that the broker takes your loan to.

This model was quite popular in the two decades leading up to the 2008 crash as big banks and mortgage banks outsourced the cost of sales forces to broker firms. But new regulations have caused banks to want to control sales forces more tightly, so brokers are less prominent than they used to be.

Advantages: Mortgage brokers can rate shop for you across many banks, and lend on tough borrower or property profiles because of their ability to shop the profiles across many banks. Because regulators have made brokering a tough business post-crisis, the last standing brokers are usually highly experienced veterans.

Mortgage Lenders Set to Relax Standards

Wall Street Journal|November 28, 2014|Joe Light| Link

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Some of the largest U.S. mortgage lenders are preparing to further ease standards for borrowers after the release of new guidelines this month from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac .

The new guidelines, to take full effect Dec. 1, resulted from an agreement in October meant to clarify when lenders would be penalized for making mistakes on mortgages they sell to Fannie and Freddie. Lenders have blamed the lack of clarity for tight credit conditions that have made it difficult for many consumers to qualify for a mortgage.

Relaxing the lending standards potentially could make it possible for hundreds of thousands of additional consumers to get mortgages.

Laurie Goodman, director of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute, said the moves are “going to be big,” but she added that “it’s going to take time” to see the full impact of the changes.

The Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, earlier this year estimated that as many as 1.2 million additional home loans would be made annually if mortgage availability were at “normal” levels.

Some lenders, including Wells Fargo & Co. and SunTrust Banks Inc., said borrowers should begin to see initial changes in a few weeks, including faster turnaround times for mortgage applications to be processed.

Currently, it can take two months or longer between the time a consumer makes an application and the loan is made.

Lenders also are expected to widen the scope of the types of borrowers they will accept by reducing credit-score requirements and giving greater leeway to consumers whose credit history suffered because of one-time events, such as a job loss or big medical bill.

Economists have long maintained that tight credit could be holding back the housing recovery and damping economic growth. On Tuesday, the S&P/Case-Shiller Index showed that U.S. home prices grew 4.8% in the 12 months ending in September, their slowest pace in two years.

After the financial crisis, Fannie and Freddie made banks repurchase tens of billions of dollars in loans that the companies said didn’t meet their standards. In turn, many lenders stopped making loans to all but the most pristine of borrowers.

In many cases, they required borrowers to have substantially higher credit scores and put in place other measures—so-called credit overlays—that were more stringent than what Fannie and Freddie required.

With the new agreement, “I’ve been told with absolute confidence that some lenders are lifting almost all of their overlays,” said David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, lifted its credit-score overlay earlier this year, which the bank said was in anticipation of the agreement with Fannie and Freddie. Now it says borrowers can expect a smoother process of getting a loan with less “excessive” paperwork.

“It’s providing greater certainty for all the parties so that you can lend more confidently and make the whole judgment process much easier and more clear cut,” said Mike Heid, president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

For example, under the previous system, Mr. Heid said a borrower who had a late payment on an auto loan might have been asked to write a memo describing what happened, even if such a mistake wasn’t critical to the decision to make a loan or not. That was because Wells couldn’t be certain what would trigger a repurchase demand from Fannie or Freddie, he said.

Now, they are less likely to be required to ask for such documentation, he said, which should speed the process of securing a loan.

Jerome Lienhard, CEO of SunTrust Mortgage, said the new guidelines likely would allow the company to lift its overlays by “a pretty meaningful amount.” He said the bank is still analyzing which overlays to remove, but he is confident many will be eliminated. “This is real. This is substantive,” he said.

Before the new rules were put in place, Mason-McDuffie Mortgage Corp. in San Ramon, Calif., typically wouldn’t make a loan to a borrower with a credit score below 660, said Bill Godfrey, the company’s executive vice president of capital markets. Now, he said he believes the company will lend down to 620, the limit for loans backed by Fannie and Freddie.

“We will be able to be looser and open up the net wider,” said Mr. Godfrey.

Not all lenders are poised to relax their underwriting rules. On an earnings call a few days after the agreement was announced, U.S. Bank Chief Executive Richard Davis called it “a good sound bite” and indicated that his bank wasn’t prepared to make changes.

“Unless we are convinced that the rules are going to be permanent and there is not going to be a look back or a reach back in future times…we are simply going to stay on the sidelines in the concerns of both compliance risks and other uncertainties,” said Mr. Davis.

“You won’t see us start to expand our criteria much past what we’ve done,” said Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan at an investor conference this month.

Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading, said some lenders are still too “shellshocked due to litigation and the shifting regulatory environment” to ease credit conditions soon.

Still, overall, Fannie Mae CEO Timothy J. Mayopoulos this month said lenders were “reacting positively to those developments. I do think that lenders are nonetheless concerned about other factors in the environment that we do not control.”

FHFA’s Dramatic Easing of Mortgage Standards

Realtor Mag Daily Real Estate News| October 21, 2014| Link

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Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt on Monday announced plans to expand home buyers’ access to mortgages by loosening up lending standards.

During the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual conference, Watt said FHFA will release guidelines “in the coming weeks” to allow increased lending to borrowers with down payments as low as 3 percent. FHFA, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also will help lenders who sell loans to the mortgage giants by easing standards on borrowers who don’t have perfect credit profiles. The move is expected to help open up the credit box to first-time buyers, self-employed borrowers, borrowers who have had recent job switches, and borrowers who faced financial hardship during the recession.

Watt said on Monday that Fannie and Freddie would not force repurchases from lenders of mortgages that are later found to have minor flaws in them, as long as borrowers have kept up with their mortgage payments for 36 months. Watt also said that lenders wouldn’t be forced to buy back bad loans if flaws were later discovered in the reporting of borrowers’ finances, debt loads, and down payments — as long as the borrowers would have qualified for the loans had the information been accurate.

“Minor, immaterial loan defects should not automatically trigger a repurchase request,” says David Stevens, CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. “As a result, lenders will be more confident in offering mortgages to qualified borrowers.”

FHFA said it will clarify to lenders when it will force buy-back loans that were issued based on inaccurate information. FHFA acknowledges that it failed to provide lenders with enough clarity in the past. That caused lenders to get cautious with lending after facing a flood of high-dollar settlements from loans they issued that later turned sour.

“We know that this issue has contributed to lenders imposing credit overlays that drive up the cost of lending and also restrict lending to borrowers with less than perfect credit scores or with less conventional financial situations,” Watt said. Addressing such issues are “critical to ensuring that there is liquidity in the housing-finance market and to providing access to credit for borrowers.”