New mortgage rules have been put into effect this last Friday to clean up, correct, and prevent the type of unscrupulous lending practices of past.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the agency that has issued the new rules, and tried to have them focus on a back to basics approach. This includes two new rules for lenders to follow: Qualified Mortgages and The Ability to Repay Rule (really, we’re just now making this a rule?).
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A large indicator Lenders use to see whether you can truly afford a home is your debt to income ratio. It’s a basic calculation of what your monthly obligations are (student loans, car payments, credit cards, other recurring expenses), and divide it into your monthly gross income. Although it’s not a hard and fast rule, a debt to income below 43% is ideal. Banks may lend to those with higher DTI’s, but require more assets, reserves, etc, to justify taking on the risk.
Qualified Mortgages can’t have “risky features” that were used to slice and dice a loan to make it more palatable, including extending the loan term past 30 years to lower the monthly payment, having interest only payments, or minimum payments that don’t even match up with the minimum interest due. There also cannot be large upfront charges and fees that come out to more than 3% of the mortgage balance, and that even includes title insurance, points to lower the mortgage rate, and origination fees. If you’ve purchased multiple properties, you may try to aim to keep your closing costs around 2-3%. For buyers that may not have been experienced, paying large fees, points, and percentages was not unusual, and padded the pockets of opportunistic loan officers and lenders.
Ability to Repay
The debt to income ratio is going to be a strong point with the new mortgage rules. It’s really the corner stone of a borrowers ability to afford the payments for the life of the loan. If you remember, loans such as the NINA (No Income No Assets), low document loans, and other high-risk mortgages that required little, if any, verification of the applicant’s income, assets, debt, and credit. These types of instruments basically put anyone that was interested in obtaining credit into a loan, disregarding any implications.
Beyond taking the extra time to verify borrowers’ monthly debts, income, credit history, and assets, the DTI can no longer be based on low introductory rates, rather, the full monthly charges you face if any “teaser rate” expires.
What’s not stated, though, is a minimum credit score requirement or down payment. If everybody that wanted a mortgage here on out was expected to have a 720 FICO and 20% down, it may drastically reduce the amount of those that could successfully secure a mortgage for their home, especially first time home buyers.
What’s noteworthy though is no matter who you originate your mortgage with, most likely it will end up on the books of Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, who back nearly 75% of all the nations mortgages. Currently they will not approve applicants who don’t have a score of at least 620.
These changes aren’t a surprise to Lenders, who have been expecting these changes for months. It may increase processing times, but with 30 year mortgage rates still under 5%, many borrowers are still interested in taking advantage of the low rates.
What will create a stoppage, though, is borrowers relaxing on getting out the door to buy houses. Some markets are seeing a slowing in marketing times, contracts, and closings, perhaps of a reflection as trepidation around the jobs market and curiosity of what turn real estate will take into the Spring selling season.
Hints if You’re Selling Real Estate
If you’re rehabbing properties and selling them for a profit, chances are the majority of your new Buyers are financed. Depending on what market you’re in, your sales time may have very well slowed down, as well. The last thing you want is have an interested and committed Buyer on the line, and find out far into the process that they cannot qualify to close.
One thing I require on my sales is that if the Buyer is getting financing, they must check in with my preferred Loan Officer who works at a Brokerage (meaning, he doesn’t work with just one bank). They don’t have to have their credit pulled, but they do have to get a “soft” prequal from him in order to move forward with the contract. If they decide to stay with their own lender, and he/she can’t close the loan, we have a plan B. The Buyers agent may give you a little push back, but explaining they don’t need their credit pulled, and this could help save a deal, puts them more at ease. Many loan officers that are still in the business tend to be realistic if they can close a loan, but, I don’t like taking chances or hinging my entire deal around someone I’ve never worked and hoping they can perform.
Also, I call the loan officer for the applicant and verify the borrower is qualified (even if it says so on paper, who cares?!), and any other information that may help. I want to hear that they’re experienced, have truly vetted the Buyers, and have the confidence and underwriting team to close the loan. As lending practices evolve and shift, it gives you a way to oversee this critical portion of selling your real estate.
What do you think? Do lending restrictions need to get any tighter, or is this a ripe time to implement stricter lending practices?