In their latest Housing Market Insight & Outlook report, Freddie Mac revealed that recent low down payment initiatives have raised concerns that we may be returning to the same lax mortgage qualifications that caused the housing crisis from which we are just now recovering.
The report went on to explain that today’s underwriting guidelines are nothing like those that existed just prior to the housing meltdown.
A recent survey by Ipsos found that the American public is still somewhat confused about what is actually necessary to qualify for a home mortgage loan in today’s housing market. The study pointed out two major misconceptions that we want to address today.
A recent post by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that in the months of December 2014 through February 2015, there was an increase in the number of first-time buyers making a down payment of 6% or less as compared to last year:
- 2014: 61% of first time home buyers
- 2015: 66% of first time home buyers
Today, Freddie Mac is scheduled to start buying mortgages with down payments of only three percent – the first time down payments have been this low on Freddie Mac loans in nearly five years. The program is called Freddie Mac Home Possible AdvantageSM.
In a recent Executive Perspectives, Dave Lowman EVP, Single-Family Business Freddie Mac, explained the potential impact this program will have on the housing market:
“There's a new reason Realtors and lenders may expect more qualified borrowers at the closing table during this spring's home buying season. In addition to low mortgage rates and rising job growth, the down payment hurdle is starting to shrink for creditworthy borrowers, including first-time homebuyers.”
And the mortgage industry agrees with Mr. Lowman. In a recent survey of mortgage originators by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it was revealed that most loan officers believe the move to a lower down payment will increase access to mortgage credit. Here are that survey’s findings:
Many potential buyers are “ready and willing” to buy a home but have been afraid they may not be “able” because of a lack of adequate savings for a down payment. Check with a local real estate or mortgage professional to understand what the new rules may mean to you.
There are many benefits to homeownership, one of top ones, is being able to protect yourself from rising rents and lock in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just released their findings of a study in which they studied “income growth, housing costs and changes in the share of renter and owner-occupied households over the past five years in metropolitan statistical areas throughout the US.”
Don’t Become Trapped
The study revealed that over the last five years, a typical rent rose 15%, while the income of renters grew by only 11%. If you are currently renting, this disparity in growth could get you caught up in a cycle where increasing rents continue to make it impossible for you to save for a necessary down payment.
The top 5 markets where renters have seen the highest increase in rents since 2009 are:
- New York, NY (50.7%)
- Seattle, WA (32.4%)
- San Jose, CA (25.6%)
- Denver, CO (24.1%)
- St. Louis, MO (22.3%)
Homebuyers, who were able to purchase their home over the same five-year period and lock in their housing costs, were able to grow their net worth as home values have increased and their mortgage balances have gone down.
Know Your Options
Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWire reported that analysts at Nomura believe:
“It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment.
It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)
According to Freddie Mac:
“Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a down payment of about 5 to 10%. And new 3% down financing options for qualified borrowers could mean a down payment as little as $6,000 for a $200,000 home.”
Don’t get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible to get a mortgage.
Yesterday, HousingWire reported that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac formally announced their 3% down options on home purchases. Fannie Mae’s plan will be effective December 13, 2014 while the Freddie Mac plan will be available March 23, 2015. The HW article quotes FHFA Director Mel Watt:
“The new lending guidelines released today by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will enable creditworthy borrowers who can afford a mortgage, but lack the resources to pay a substantial down payment plus closing costs, to get a mortgage with 3% down. These underwriting guidelines provide a responsible approach to improving access to credit while ensuring safe and sound lending practices.”
This is great news to millions of purchasers that have been denied the opportunity to own their own home because of the almost impossible burden of saving for a 20% down payment.
Will these programs create future challenges?
Certain pundits fear that low down payment programs will create a wave of foreclosures down the road. Mr. Watt also addressed this concern:
“To mitigate risk, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will use their automated underwriting systems, which include compensating factors to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness. In addition, the new offerings will also include homeownership counseling, which improves borrower performance. FHFA will monitor the ongoing performance of these loans.”
We also recently addressed this issue.
Here are the direct links to the guidelines for each program:
Remember, as with any new program, there will be some confusion as it is unveiled. Contact a mortgage professional for a deeper understanding. Don’t have a mortgage person yet? Contact me for a referral.