When it was a “Mid-Century Modern” bank, Washington Mutual served my clients well.

It provided market rate mortgages which it held in the branch’s own portfolio. (WaMu advertised that its “WM Mortgage Loans” were never sold). Your home is a place to live, raise your family- not an investment.

Whether it’s a MCM (Mid-Century Modern) or other, that’s the way it should be regarded, loved and cherished. And a good home mortgage, preferably locally held and serviced made all this possible for me and my clients. As did many other Seattle natives, I started with “School Savings” pictured as a mural on the wall of a branch.
WaMu and many other of the troubled banks and mortgage lenders got off on the wrong  foot when they went after the derivative bundled mortgages that were in demand by big operative builders like Toll Brothers as covered in this very inclusive 10/16/05 NYT Magazine article- Chasing Ground.

PMI Mortgage Insurance Company drop kicks Mortgage Brokers

Today I had several Mortgage Professionals contact me regarding PMI Private Mortgage Insurance Company cutting off mortgage brokers via email and comments here.    I thought it must be a rumor…but it’s not, effective February 20, 2009 PMI Mortgage Insurance Company will no longer underwrite or insure loans for mortgage brokers.   However if you’re a lender, PMI is ‘Right alongside you…we’re in it for the long run”.  

From an email I received today from a Loan Originator:

It’s believed that PMI is the first of the nation’s seven MI firms to totally exclude loan brokers from their coverage menus. In recent months other MIs – including Genworth and MGIC – have tightened guidelines on broker-sourced loans, particularly condominiums and high LTV notes. A PMI spokesman confirmed the new policy change to National Mortgage News adding that, “This does not apply to correspondents.

Mother Nature Happens…

…and she doesn’t ask us if it’s convenient or if we’re in the middle of a mortgage transaction, for a natural disaster to strike, such as the current flooding in Western Washington.  When significant natural events occur, it may impact your mortgage transaction.   

Most commonly, the lender will require the appraiser to do a re-inspection (442) of the property for any transactions that are not funded prior to the event.  Even if your home uphill a mile from a flooded river, if you’re in a region (such as a zip code) that’s flooded, where an earthquake, wild fire or other has happened, be prepared for your transaction to be delayed.   The appraiser is typically required to verify:

  • The property is free from damage.
  • The disaster had no impact on the value or marketability of the property. 
  • Include an updated photo of the home.

If the appraiser determines that the property has suffered from the disaster, repairs will be required with a follow up inspection (442) from the appraiser.   All re-inspections from the appraisal are submitted to the underwriter for (hopefully) approval.  It is possible that the underwriter may add additional conditions after the review.   I have found 442’s to cost around $150 (per inspection). 

If the appraisal has not yet been completed during a transaction, the appraiser will most likely need to address the disaster and whether or not it has impacted the value of the home. 

It’s up to the lender (and can vary from lender to lender) on whether or not they will call for reinspections when a natural disaster happens.

Buyer Beware: 'Tis the Season

Boy, you’re going to think I’m the Scrooge…and this article may not apply to most of you…but I want to reach out to those of us who rely on our credit cards to help finance the holidays.  You see, years past it was not uncommon for home owners to get into the spirit and purchase many gifts for our loved ones–going over the top (meaning beyond our budget).  Yes, it feels great to see the look of joy and surprise on little Johnny and Susie’s face when the open the gifts they’ve been longing for…but this year, you may not have the “fix” of meeting with your Mortgage Professional in January to “reorganize” your debt.   Just in time for the holidays, Fannie Mae is unrolling DU Version 7.1 which really puts a damper on cash out refinances.

This officially takes place over the weekend of December 13, 2008; however lenders will start implementing this soon (so that loans are in compliance for Fannie Mae once they are purchased).   A cash out refinance will be limited to 85% of appraised value of your single family residence.   By the way, if you’re refinancing a second mortgage/home equity loan that was not used for the purchase of your residence, this is classified as a “cash out” refinance–even if you have never received cash out and you only reduced the rate on your second mortgage on a previous refinance.  (A refinance including a “non-purchase” second mortgage is treated as “cash out” with pricing and underwriting–no exceptions).   This will force more home owners to FHA mortgages which allow higher cash out refinances at a cost (upfront and monthly mortgage insurance regardless of loan to value).  

Factor in home values and you can really see the challenge with doing a cash-out refinance.  Lenders count on appraisals to establish a value for your home.  This value is based on what other homes like yours have recently sold and closed for in your neighborhood.  No sales?  A short sale?  Ugh.  It doesn’t matter what’s listed down the street, what your assessed value is or what you feel the home is worth in the lenders and appraiser’s eyes.

Tis the Season for big sales, no interest or payment for X many months and credit card companies including blank checks in our statements with dreams of sugar plum fairies and hopes that we’ll indebt ourselves further.  Please don’t do it. 

  • Make a budget for your holiday shopping.
  • Pay cash.
  • Consider a gift exchange for your family.
  • Find alternatives to spending for celebrating the Season.

You may wind up trapped, like Ardell’s Six Pack Joe, once your interest rates kick in and your bills start piling up with no refinance in sight.   I’m here to say that YOU do have a choice and you need to be informed and responsible for your debts.   Mortgages are getting tougher (especially refinances) and chances are, your home equity is not here to rescue you.

I won’t go into how credit cards and home equity loans are being frozen or the credit lines are being reduced without notice (and how damaging it is to your credit scores when your borrowed amount is above 50% of the credit card limit).  

You have less than two months to plan for Christmas.  Don’t be stuck with extra debt and tanking credit scores…your home equity may not be there to save you (even if you have it, you may not have affordable access to it).

Sunday Night Stats on Monday Morning

The Dow’s holding its own so far today. “Hanging in the eights”; as I like to say. I don’t see the day coming yet when my week doesn’t start without checking the Dow when I wake up on Monday morning.

Last night I looked at the homes that sold in Redmond in August for the means of financing.  Where once I saw two loans as in 80/20 and 100% financing, I now see two loans as in conforming and jumbo.  One loan at exactly $417,000 and another for the difference.  I saw a couple of FHA loans in the mix and a couple of cash sales, but by and large the purchases had significant downpayments.  $20,000,000 worth of purchases had $13,000,000 worth of debt.  So 35% down overall.

Looking at who got a good buy and who didn’t, the new bogey appears to be 1.09 times assessed value, by and large.  The fabulous buys went for under assessed value, mostly in the high end near a million dollars.  The assessed values I am using are still the ones that 2008 taxes are based on, so be careful there.  The new ones for 2009 taxes should not produce this multiple.  Up to 1.17 times assessed value is pretty safe, depending on condition of the property, with 1.09 times assessed value being fairly doable and the better sold scenario.

Some of the best buys were those that listed low and sold quickly.  Some of the worst buys were listed high, and while the buyer got the property substantially less than asking price, the net result was still too high.  Remember to double check the multiple of assessed value against the main floor footprint calculation keep apples to apples as to style of home.

I’m not seeing any short sale closings in the mix.  Most are still stuck in pending.  The “decent” buys were popular homes dropping from 1.22 and 1.17 times assessed value to about 1.13 times assessed value.  Those were newer two story homes built in the mid 90s.

The waiting game is playing out where new construction is competing with resale by the same builder in the same community.  It will be very interesting to see what the builders are going to do about that as we head into Winter.  Look for some screaming “offers” from builders…BUT check that against the prices of same model resale before being lured by builder offerings.

Still hard to find a good house at a good price in this market, the best values still going quickly.  For those who see something that “looks good” out the gate, but need a method to quickly evaluate if it is a good buy, asking price divided by assessed value is still a good rule of thumb.  The closer it is to assessed value, the less time you will have to think about it.

Losers in this market are those who take too long to “think about it” and don’t have a good valuation tool.  Some of the worst buys were people who bought houses at substantially less than asking price, but still over market value.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking you “saved $50,000” just because you paid under asking price.

Mostly these are some tips for people who are buying in today’s market.  But sellers can take note as well.  After you come up with your list price, divide it by the assessed value used for 2008 NOT 2009 assessments, and see where that leaves you.  If you have a view  property, the multiples will be higher.  Buy if you don’t, and the calculation comes up at 1.5 times assessed value…think again.

Some stats on sold in September homes without basements:

Redmond – median price per square foot $233 in 08 vs. $284 in 07 prices down 18% volume up 25% from 43 to 54.  Median price down from just under $700,000 to just under $600,000 plus more home for the money as to total square footage.

Bellevue – MPPSF $332 in 08 vs. $318 in 07 prices up 5% volume unchanged at 37/38. Median price up from $685,000 to $739,750. (lots of very pricey homes in that mix vs. Redmond and Kirkland)

Kirkland – MPPSF $268 in 08 vs. $286 in 07 prices down 6% volume down 25% from 32 to 24.  Median price up from $526,500 to $570,000.

King County – MPPSF $193 in 08 vs. $223 in 07 prices down 13% volume down 10% from 788 to 704.  Median price down from $449,975 to $382,884

Asking Prices of unsold homes on market today:

Redmond $260 asking vs. $233 sold; 6.5 months of supply.

Bellevue $311 asking vs. $332 sold; 8 months of supply.

Kirkland $284 asking vs. $268 sold; over 12 months of supply.

King County $210 asking vs. $193 sold; just over 8 month supply.

When you consider prices and volume, you see that the deep dip in price sold in Redmond (down 18%) is giving them an increased volume of sales, up by 25%, and a shorter timeframe on existing inventory at 6.5 months in Redmond vs. 12 months plus in Kirkland.

Volume up 25% in Redmond proves that when buyer’s perceive real value, they buy. Buyers with money for downpayments do exist, but they are very, very value conscious. Bellevue stats are a bit screwy, but Kirkland and King County as a whole show that when prices are down slightly the volume is down a lot.  When prices are down moderately, the volume is up somewhat.

So buyers appear to be “happy” at 18% down in price, OK with 13% down in price and not so happy about only 6% down in price.  Remember, I removed basement square footage to evaluate pure living square footage, and never buy without looking at 2008 assessed value.

Stats not compiled, verified or posted by NWMLS (Required disclosure)

FHA Update: The "It Girl" of Mortgage

This morning I’ve been trying to update articles I’ve written on FHA in an attempt to have the information be accurate during this day and age of the ever-changing-loan-guidelines.  Please don’t rely 100% on information you find about mortgages on the web.  Programs and products are simply changing too often to keep up and information is becoming quickly outdated.  

This month, FHA loans have seen a few changes, many with the passage of HR 3221.   Let’s see if I can get us all caught up in one post. 🙂

Effective for FHA case numbers issued October 1, 2008 and later:

  • FHA mortgage insurance increaseFirst FHA mortgage insurance was going to have risked based pricing, then HR 3221 came along and put a moratorium in effect until September 30, 2009.   Until then, for a FHA purchase 30 year fixed mortgage, upfront mortgage insurance has increased to 1.75% and monthly mortgage insurance is 0.55% for loan amounts over 95% LTV and 0.50% for borrowers putting more than 5% down on their home. 
  • Down payment assistance programs.  Seller funded down payment assistance programs are currently not allowed.  However there is a bill in Congress (HR 6694) that if passed, would allow DPAs once again but only to borrowers within certain credit scores.   Home Buyers can still obtain a gift or loan from family members as long as it meets underwriting guidelines.
  • Rental income credit when buying a new home and renting the existing residence.  This actually became effective in mid September.   When converting a primary residence to a rental home, the rental income can only be used for qualifying if:(1) the borrower is relocating or (2) the new rental meets at least 25% equity (to be determined by an appraisal < 6 months old or the existing mortgage balance is 75% of the original sales price).   Both mortgage payments are factored for qualifying purposes.  HUD (and Fannie/Freddie) have cracked down on this due to home buyers purchasing a new (less expensive) home and “walking away” from their McMansion mortgage payment.

Effective January 1, 2009:

  • Minimum down payment increases to 3.5%.  Home Buyers have until the end of the year to purchase under the 3% down payment requirement.   Sellers can pay actual closing costs once the buyer meets the minimum down payment requirement (which can be gifted or loaned by a family member).
  • FHA Jumbo loan limits to change.   HUD is in the process of reevaluating median home prices and will announce new loan limits before the end of the year.  With the passage of HR 3221, the maximum loan amount for FHA Jumbo was reduced to 115% of the median home price (currently, the $567,500 limit is based on 125% of the median home price).   Should HUD determine that our home values are unchanged, then the new limit would be reduced to around $522,100.   However, many areas have not had their values reevaluated by HUD in many years…so for now, we really don’t know what the new “FHA jumbo” loan limit will be.

A few more reminders about FHA insured mortgages…

  • Not all lenders are approved to originate FHA loansCheck HUDs site to verifyif the mortgage company you work for is approved.   One clue I’ve noticed by LO’s who are trying to “fake it” is that they’re charging more than a 1% origination fee.   This is not allowed.
  • FHA does not have income limitations or geographic requirements.
  • FHA is not limited to first time home buyers.
  • FHA is not just for lower credit scores.

Sellers, you are reducing your exposure to more buyers if you are not considering those approved with FHA financing…especially with the higher loan limits.   A $700,000 sales price with 20% down is pretty close to the current limit.  Anything shy of 20% down would probably lean towards FHA jumbo.

Want more reasons to consider FHA financing?  Here’s how conventional compares:

  • Tighter guidelines.  And if you think DU 7.0’s been tough…wait until you get a load of version 7.1 which goes into effect in mid-December.
  • Risk based pricing on credit scores below 740. (FHA has risk based pricing starting at 620 and below).
  • More expensive private mortgage insurance for loans over 80% loan to value.

It’s easy to see why FHA has become very popular…you could say FHA is the “It Girl” of Mortgage.

Joe Sixpack and the Subprime Crisis

The Subprime Crisis is a broken promise to Joe “Sixpack”.

One Day in early 2006, Joe was feeling pretty darned good about himself. He was making $65,000 a year at a job he held for over 6 years. He had $30,000 saved up in the bank. He had no credit card debt. He owned his car free and clear. He looked at his pregnant wife and his 2 year old son about to outgrow the two bedroom apartment they were renting and said, heck…time for us to buy a house.

He didn’t need no granite counters or stainless steel appliances.  He just wanted a decent neighborhood and decent schools for his kids.  He needed a small yard for a dog and to throw a ball back & forth in with his son and to have a barbecue and a beer in with his buds once in a while.  His American Dream seemed within reach.  He read everywhere that mortgages were pretty easy to get, and interest rates were near all time lows at 5.5%.

Mrs. Joe picked the School District she wanted to live in, and Mr. and Mrs. Joe walked into a real estate office and said, “We’d like to buy a house in this School District”. Ms. Realtor pulled out a big questionnaire asking them to fill in all the things they wanted, while she left to figure out what they could afford.  She did a quick qualification in the back room of the office.  $65,000 a year divided by twelve times 33% equals a payment of $1,787.50 a month and at 5.5% interest rate that equaled a loan of $315,000.  She added the $30,000 they had saved, and came to $345,000. She wondered if that was a little high, but it was certainly the lowest price she could hope to find, so she found them a little old rambler in Kenmore asking $350,000.  They all went out to see it.  It had an old kitchen and needed some work but the couple hugged and said, “We can make this ‘home’ with a little hard work and some paint and curtains”.  Everyone smiled and went back to the real estate office to make an offer of $345,000, with the seller paying the closings costs.

The real estate agent called her favorite lender and put Joe on the phone with the lender while she typed the offer.  The lender faxed over a pre-approval letter for a purchase price of $345,000 to submit with the offer.  Joe’s agent called the Listing Agent of the little rambler who said, “We already have 3 offers, and we’re presenting offers at 7 o’clock tonight”.  It was 4:30 p.m.

Joe’s agent called the lender who shot over a new pre-approval letter for $375,000.  Joe’s agent added an Escalation Clause for $1,000 more than any one else’s offer up to $375,000.  She took out the seller paying the Closing Costs explaining that with multiple offers, that wasn’t going to fly. She took out the home inspection clause explaining that would strenghten the offer. She told them to up their Earnest Money Deposit from $5,000 to $10,000 to make the offer really solid. Mr. and Mrs. Joe  signed it, and the agent faxed the offer to the Listing Agent.  That night Joe’s family got the call that they got the house for ONLY $364,000!  WOO-HOOS and High Fives all around.  They WON!

Joe went to the lender’s office a couple of days later and made a full loan application.  He got a Good Faith Estimate saying his payment was going to be $2,646.47 a month. $1,937.36 on the first mortgage of $291,200 at 7% +$459.11 on the 15% second mortgage of $54,600 at 9.5% + $200 a month for real estate taxes and $50 a month for homeowner’s insurance.  Total payment $2,646.47 a month.  Joe started sweating profusely.  He called his agent and said, can we cancel this?  She said not without losing your $10,000 Earnest Money.  There was no home inspection contingency and the Finance Contingency didn’t have a little blank space to put in a rate cap.  There was no “legal out” for “OMG the payment is $1,000 more than I thought it was going to be”.

The agent called the lender and he switched the loan to an interest only on the first with a fully amortized 40 year second and added a two year pre-payment penalty.  That brought the payment on the first mortgage down from $1,937.36 to $1,698.67.  The fully amortized 2nd at 40 years vs. 30 years dropped that payment from $459.11 to $442.29. Total payment $1,698.67 + $442.29 + $200 + $50 is $2,390.96.

Joe scratched his head and asked, “Where’s the 5.5% lowest interest rate in years?”.  The lender explained that rate was only for people with credit scores of 660 or better, and Joe’s score was 640.  Also, that rate was for people whose ratios were 33/40 and Joe’s payment, even at the reduced rate of $2,390.96, was just over 44% of his gross income of $5,416.67 a month.  His ratios were “out” which made him SUB-PRIME.  BUT, here’s the good news! IF you can stick this out for 12 months…24 tops…and make your mortgage payment on time, you can RE-FI at the lower rates! The value of your house will grow so that the 5% you put down will be 20%, and you will have ONE mortgage at the low rate instead of TWO mortgages at SUB-PRIME rates.

Joe went home.  He was feeling a little sick in the stomach and he had a massive headache.  He looked at his pregnant wife.  She was packing and making yellow curtains for her new kitchen.  He kissed her on the forehead and went to the corner store and bought a sixpack.  Two weeks later they closed escrow, moved into the house and he and his son went out and bought a new puppy.

Joe worked hard for a year.  He put in overtime and drew down on the little savings he had left.  He was able to make his mortgage payment on time for 12 months.  He called the lender to get that RE-FI he was promised.  The lender said…oh, well…you really should wait another year because of that 2 year pre-payment penalty.  Joe said, I really can’t do this for another year.  The lender said OK, but I’m going to have to add the costs of the re-fi and the pre-payment penalty to the principal of the mortgage.  Joe asked how much the pre-payment penalty was and nearly fell off his chair.  He said, OK…I’ll stick it out for another year.  He went out in the yard where his son was playing with the dog and drank a couple of sixpacks.

6 months later Joe was told that he couldn’t get any overtime.  They were cutting back on expenses.  He opened his mail and there were those multiple offers for credit cards at ZERO INTEREST!  He got himself three of them.  He started charging stuff to make ends meet until he could get to 2 years and RE-FI his mortgage.  He went out with one of his new credit cards, bought his wife a box of chocolates, his son a new football, the dog a new collar and a case of beer for himself.

Finally…TWO YEARS had passed.  No pre-payment penalty!  Time to RE-FI! He called his lender.  Well Joe, I’ve got some bad news for you.  You did improve your credit score with all those on time payments for two years from 640 to 680, but the best rates are now going to people with scores of 700 or better.  The REALLY bad news is that because of your ratios, you were stated income-SUB-Prime…and those loans don’t exist anymore.  There is no re-fi for people with your ratio of payment to income.  Joe hung up the phone and went out in his yard and drank a couple of six-packs.

At first, Joe was only getting behind in his credit card payments.  He opened his statement and the interest rate jumped to 30%! Joe called around and said “Isn’t charging 30% ILLEGAL?”  Well Joe…it used to be…we used to have something called “Usury Laws”, but no more.  Usury Laws were part of RICO to get rid of Loan Sharks but in 1980 Congress elected to “deregulate” and exempted Banks from Usury Laws for the most part.  30% only seems fair, since you breached your promise to pay on time.  Joe wondered why breaching his promise demanded such a penalty, when those who breached their promise to him of getting a RE-FI and reasonable mortgage payments seemed not to matter.  He put his head down, grabbed a couple of six packs and headed out to the garage trying hard not to turn the motor on in the car.

Joe started getting behind in his mortgage payments.  He had the same job making $65,000 a year…in fact he got a raise to $69,000 a year.  Still he was falling further and further behind.  He called his real estate agent and said, I can’t do this anymore.  I have to sell this place.  The agent told him that prices were down, cost of sale was 8% or more, and there were those payments he was behind getting penalties and interest.  He was “upside down” and the new distressed property law scared her and she couldn’t help him. Meanwhile the mortgage company was calling him every day, sometimes 4 times in one hour.  They had no answers.  They just asked if they could post date a check for the $4,000 he owed them to next week.  He said “Do you really think if I can’t make my full payment again this month, that I can write you a fkn check for $4,000 today that is going to be good “next week” you fkn moron!”  Joe slammed the phone down, turned the ringer off and headed out to the garage with his little TV and a couple of sixpacks.

Joe drank his six-packs and watched all the Presidential Debates and Campaign speeches.  He heard someone talking about “Joe Sixpack” and wondered if she knew how “Joe Sixpack” got that nick-name, and what she was going to do about it.  He watched as everyone fought over the $700 Billion Bailout and wondered if that would help him…and hoped it would.  The Bailout passed, but his phone didn’t stop ringing.  The Credit Card Company was still charging him 30%.  The Mortgage Company still didn’t seem to have any answers.  He called his agent and asked again about selling the house.  She agreed to help him do a “short-sale”, but she didn’t quite know how that worked.  He went out to see where he might rent if he sold his house “short”, but no one would give him a rental, because his credit was now fckd…

He went back to the garage, popped open another beer and stared at the car with the motor off.

How Long is a Preapproval Letter Good For?

I recently had a newly preapproved client ask me that question.  It’s quite a timely one!  Before this market, I would say that a preapproval letter used to be good for about 90 days assuming that none of the information on provided on the loan application has changed.  Now-a-days, you have to factor in guideline changes and interest rates.   You’re really not approved by the sales price or loan amount, it’s based on the total mortgage payment and funds for closing (down payment, closing costs, prepaids/reserves, etc.) along with any other conditions (such as having a certain amount in your savings account after closing).

Assuming that the loan program you’re preapproved with does not have guideline changes and still exists, before you write an offer on a home, I recommend that you contact your mortgage originator to make sure you’re still approved based on that home’s property taxes and current interest rates.  In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to get an updated Good Faith Estimate with current rates and actual property taxes.  If you’re asking the seller to pay closing costs, let your mortgage originator know so they can verify the amount will be allowed per guidelines.  If you’re offering less than you’re preapproved for, your real estate agent may want to have a preapproval letter that is written specifically for the offer (especially if you’re asking the seller to pay closing costs).

Program changes? Boy, we’ve had a few.  There are also changes with private mortgage insurance and various lender guidelines too.  I recommend that people who are in the market right now as “preapproved” buyers, check in with their mortgage originator on a weekly basis (if you’re actively looking) and before you present that offer to make sure it meets current guidelines and that you are still qualified based on the present rate.

Don’t be surprised if your mortgage originator requires you to provide your most recent paystubs and copies of your asset accounts (where your down payment is coming from) before providing an updated preapproval letter.

Last note: Be careful when searching blogs for information on mortgage programs and guidelines.  If the posts are even a few months old, the information may very well be outdated (if it was correct in the first place).

Note: I have modified this post.  I had incorrect data (kind of ironic).

Are you ready for FEMA Mortgage?

Congress and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson are working this weekend to hash out details of the proposed $700,000,000,000 bailout during this amazing time in American history.  My brother-in-law is an adjuster for FEMA, spending months away from his home evaluating damaged property across the country.   FEMA Mortgage could be created to essentially do the same thing.

Now that Uncle Sam will be buying bad mortgages, they could utilize FEMA mortgage adjusters to evaluate the borrowers current situation:

  • Can they afford their mortgage payment? 
  • Is this a situation worth modifying their existing loan?
  • Was income over-stated or not verified with the mortgage?
  • Was the property purchased as owner occupied and it’s now an investment property? 
  • Are there signs of mortgage fraud?

Home owners in trouble who have financial ability to stay in their home, would have the opportunity to re-qualify at either a lower rate and/or reduced loan amount with a silent second that would be called due if the home owner sold the property within a certain period of time (similar to State bond programs).   This would be available to home owners who were having difficulty due to an ARM adjusting or perhaps a financial set back that is now resolved (such as temporary loss of employment).    Loan modifications with Uncle Sam owned mortgages would be streamlined, very low cost  and legit.

Home owners who could not re-qualify based on their actual income, may have the opportunity to rent a property at a payment they can afford.  Having property occupied as a rental is better than abandoned–for that home and for the neighborhood.   Perhaps Uncle Sam will start FEMA Property Management…they can even re-use some of the trailers they bought for Huricane Katrina.  

If fraud was used on a mortgage now owned by Uncle Sam, the FEMA Loan Adjuster would determine if it was caused by the borrower or loan originator and proper actions would be taken.

A plan such as this, could provide jobs for out of work Loan Originators (of course they would have to pass the National Licensing requirements) and employ Real Estate Agents, builders and contractors, too.   FEMA Adjusters could also determine which foreclosed properties, owned by Uncle Sam, need repair before it can be resold at a higher value or if they should just be sold “as is”.

Your thoughts?

The Fate of Fannie and Freddie

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac opened trading at record lows due to rumors about a possible bail out.  I’m writing this waiting to hear an announcement from Treasury Secretary Paulsen….

If you are in a transaction at this time and your mortgage fits within the FHA loan limits ($567,500 for King, Pierce and Snohomish County), I recommend considering FHA as a back up plan.  In fact, I’ve realized yesterday that all of my loans in process are currently FHA.   ,

If you are considering buying or refinancing a home and are not yet in transaction, I highly recommend making sure that your Loan Originator is able to provide FHA financing.   I recommend asking your Loan Officer (in writing-using email):

  • Are they approved to provide FHA financing?
  • How long has their company provided FHA financing?
  • How long has the LO done FHA loans?
  • Verify on HUD’s website that the mortgage company is indeed approved with HUD.  This list will also show you how long a company has been approved by HUD.

What will the Fannie and Freddie look like after if the Gov steps in?

If you look at FHA, you know that HUD is very pro-homeownership.   We may see low down programs like Flex 97 stick around–it’s very similar to FHA with the minimum 3% down.

Mortgage rates will probably increase dramatically since we will no longer have a private sector.  It will all be government controlled.

I’m also wondering if the governement would utilize private mortgage insurance companies or if they will utilize something similar FHA’s mortgage insurance?

Stay tuned…this is not over.

Update 7:53 am:  Here is Treasury Secretary Paulsen’s statement (from Market Watch):

Here is Paulsen’s statement (from Market Watch):

“Today our primary focus is supporting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their current form as they carry out their important mission.

“We appreciate Congress’ important efforts to complete legislation that will help promote confidence in these companies. We are maintaining a dialogue with regulators and with the companies. OFHEO will continue to work with the companies as they take the steps necessary to allow them to continue to perform their important public mission.”

Update 2:51 p.m.  I just received this Press Release from OFHEO (Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight):

Statement of OFHEO Director James B. Lockhart

“I congratulate and thank Chairman Dodd, Ranking Member Shelby and the Senate for passing a sound and comprehensive GSE regulatory reform bill.  This bill should help restore confidence in the housing markets by creating, on passage, a new, stronger regulator with all the necessary tools to oversee Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks.  I am hopeful the House will act quickly and the bill will soon be enacted into law.

With this very turbulent market it is important to strengthen the regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and combine it with the regulator of the Federal Home Loan Banks as soon as possible as all of the GSEs are being asked to do more and more to support the mortgage market.”