Pressured by federal regulators to write quality loans, lenders have little choice but to follow underwriting marching orders issued in rapid succession this year by federal mortgage insurers.
Here’s a rundown.
- Effective Dec. 13, among other underwriting updates, Fannie Mae is reducing debt-to-income ratios, the amount of a borrower’s gross monthly income that goes toward paying all debts. Fannie is dropping the ratio from 55 to 45 percent and the debt must include once exempt revolving debt with a balance of 10 or fewer payments.
- Also, if the lender can’t verify the amount of a minimum monthly payment on any revolving credit, it must assume the payment is 5 percent of the balance and include that amount in the debt-to-income ratio.
- Once excluded, but now also included in debt-to-income ratio, are payments on decades-old mortgages with only 10 payments (or more) remaining. That will make it tougher for older home owners to buy a second home.
- Borrowers who have gone through foreclosure can forget buying a home with a Fannie-backed loan for seven years. That reduces the pool of mortgages available to consumers who’ve suffered a foreclosure.
Freddie Mac is considering guidelines similar to big sister Fannie’s.
- Also, effective Dec. 1, Freddie Mac lenders now will be required to consider a borrower’s credit report inquiries made in the previous 120 days, rather than the prior 90 days as was required before the new rule.
If the borrower was granted additional credit, the debt adds to the debt-to-income ratio.
Borrowers underwritten out of the running for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines on conforming loans may have to consider low-down payment Federal Housing Administration loans. However, those loans are already tougher to land than ever and they come with mortgage insurance that recently rose in price.
FHA loans have become the go-to mortgage for less financially fit borrowers who likely would have shopped the now defunct subprime market.
- In October, the FHA began to require credit scores of at least 500, creating a minimum where none previously existed. Borrowers with scores ranging from 500 to 579, must come up with 10 percent down. Borrowers who want an FHA loan with only 3.5 percent down must have a score of more than 580.
FICO scores, ranging from 300 to 850, are a numerical rendition of a borrowers’ creditworthiness.
Individual lenders can set their own credit score requirements and several lenders recently pushed the minimums to 640 on FHA loans.
- Earlier this year, the FHA also boosted the upfront mortgage premium to 2.25 percent of the loan amount, up from the previous 1.75 percent, the second increase in the past two years.
- Also earlier this year, a seller’s contribution to FHA loan closing costs was slashed from 6 percent to 3 percent, after critics said the higher maximum encouraged sellers to mark up the price to compensate for their concession.
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