Underwriting Update for Financing of Investment Property with Fannie Mae

Last Friday, when Fannie adjusted the allowance for the amount of financed properties owned from 4 to 10, other underwriting requirements on investment and second home borrowers were updated as well.  (Freddie Mac still has the 4 financed property limit).

Reserve requirements vary depending on the number of financed properties owned (including primary residence):

1-4 financed properties 0wned:

  • 2 months of reserves on the subject property if it’s a second home.
  • 6 months reserves on subj. property if it’s an investment property plus 2 months reserves on each other second home or investment property.

5-10 financed properties owned:

  • 2 months of reserves on the subject property if it’s a second home.
  • 6 months of reserves on the subject property if it’s an investment property plus 6 months reserves on each other financed second home or investment property.

Note:  Freddie Mac’s guidelines are *currently* 6 months PITI.

Other underwriting changes for investment properties include:

  • 70% LTV for purchase of 1-unit and 70% for 2-4 units.
  • 720 minimum low-mid credit score. 
  • No history bankruptcy or foreclosure in the past 7 years.
  • Rental income must be documented with two years tax returns.
  • Borrowers required to sign form 4506 (which you can expect on ALL loans these days–including owner occupied).

Don’t forget that there is a significant price hit of 0.75% to fee from Fannie and Freddie with investment properties on top of the credit score/loan to value adds (LLPA).    Seller contribution is limited to 2% of the sales price with investment property.

More Fannie Changes for Investment Properties and Second Homes

Effective tomorrow (August 1, 2008) borrowers who convert their existing residence to an investment property or second home will be treated to tougher standards if they’re using a Fannie Mae loan.    Here are the new requirements:

Converting existing residence to a “second home”.

  • Borrower must qualify for both payments (this is not new).
  • Unless the borrower has at least 30% equity in the existing property, they will need 6 months PITI for both properties in reserves

Converting existing residence to “investment property”

  • The borrower may only use rental income (75% credit) of their existing property if they have at least 30% equity in the property.   Otherwise, they must qualify with both full payments (no credit for rent).
  • Rental income must be documented with a fully executed lease agreement and a receipt showing the security deposit from the tenant has been deposited into the borrowers account.
  • If the borrower does not have 30% equity in the proposed investment property (former residence) then they will need 6 months PITI for reserves for both properties.

Either an appraisal, AVM or Broker Price Opinion is used to determine if there is 30% equity in the existing home that is being converted to a second home or investment property (this may be determined by underwriting).  

Last, be careful when reading guideline changes, such as this.  Underwriting guidelines and loan programs are changing constantly, post like this are quickly “dated material” and no longer applicable–do verify information you find on the internet with your Mortgage Professional to make sure the information is still valid.

The Housing Rescue Bill

Today President Bush signed a housing “rescue” bill HR 3221.  I’m really still absorbing all of this (I think it’s taking me a bit longer after my trip to Inman Connect).   Here are a few quick pointers:

The FHA risked base mortgage insurance pricing (which I’m in favor of) that was to be effective last week is now postponed until September 30, 2009.   FHA can now save some borrowers in trouble with their mortgage if their existing lender will forgive the underlying debt to 85% 90% of the current value of the home.   Gee…risked based MIP might be handy in these cases.

Also with FHA, Seller paid down payment assistance programs are will be gone and the minimum down payment for an FHA insured loan will be 3.5% (which is a very small increase) beginning October 1, 2008.

Jumbo FHA and Jumbo Conforming loan limits will be reduced from the current 125% of median home value to 115% of the median home value beginning January 1, 2009.   As I mentioned, your days of a loan amount of $567,500 are numbered.   The new conforming/FHA jumbo limit may be closer to $520,000.  

First time homebuyers (someone who has not had interested in a property for the past 3 years) are eligible to receive a tax credit…however, it’s really an interest free loan to be paid back over 15 years or from the proceeds when the home is sold (which ever comes first).  This is available only for homes purchased on or after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009.  Income restrictions do apply.   For more information, check out this website.   

Last but not least (and I’m sure I’m missing stuff) Fannie and Freddie have a new regulator: The Federal Finance Housing Agency aka FHFA.   This from James B. Lockhart:

“Today President Bush signed the ‘Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.’ I thank President Bush and Secretary Paulson for their leadership in making government sponsored enterprise (GSE) regulatory reform a reality.

The Act creates a world-class, empowered regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), with all the authorities necessary to oversee vital components of our country’s secondary mortgage markets — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks — at a very challenging time.  As Director of the new agency I look forward to working with the combined Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB), Office of Federal Housing Enterprise (OFHEO) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) GSE Mission teams and with other regulators to ensure the safety and soundness of the 14 housing related GSEs and the stability of the nation’s housing finance system.

For more than two years as Director of OFHEO I have worked to help create FHFA so that this new GSE regulator has far greater authorities than its predecessors.  As Director of FHFA, I commit that we will use these authorities to ensure that the housing GSEs provide stability and liquidity to the mortgage market, support affordable housing and operate safely and soundly.”

Too much to write about in detail for one post…just wanted to throw you some bits.

The First in a Series of Fannie and Freddie Bailouts

The rumors floated on Friday regarding Fannie and Freddie turned out to be true.  This first bailout proposal, released a few hours ago, has three parts.  I say “first” because there is no way that this is going to be enough to save what’s headed our way nor will this be the only time the government will need to “bailout” F&F.

The U.S. Treasury plans to seek approval for a temporary increase in the line of credit granted to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They will also seek authority to buy equity in either company, and the Federal Reserve voted to allow the New York Fed to loan F&F money, if needed, giving F&F access to the Federal Reserve’s discount window.

The Wall Street Journal says the U.S. Treasury and The Federal Reserve are doing this mainly to boost confidence in F&F, not necessarily because any of this is needed, which to me seems to be a flat out lie.

The weekend move means that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has been steadily accumulating authority as the U.S. grapples with the financial crisis, will have even more power. The Treasury envisions the Fed working with the mortgage giants’ regulator to help prevent situations that could be a risk for the entire financial system. The move builds on Treasury’s broader goal of remaking financial regulation to give the Fed broader influence over financial-market stability.

I’m not sure if we’re suppose to be happy or scared at the thought of Ben Bernanke accumulating more power.  Maybe what’s really going on is some preemptive planning due to known or unknown possibilities that tomorrow’s auction of Freddie Mac debt doesn’t go well.

The Sunday move was designed in part to head off fears about Monday’s auction of Freddie Mac notes. While small, the planned sale had assumed an outsized importance as a test of investor confidence. Freddie should be able to find buyers for its three- and six-month notes, market analysts said. But there is a chance that some financial institutions and investors may demand higher-then-usual yields.

Similar Freddie and Fannie notes that are currently outstanding yield around 2.5%. If weak demand for Freddie’s auction leads to sharply higher yields on the new notes, that could trigger a selloff across a wide range of debt issued by the companies, some analysts said. But most said such a scenario is unlikely.

I’ve been glued to the web, the radio, and my phone since Friday evening reading, listening, and talking about this with friends and colleagues. If the federal government choses to provide (the implied) government backing for bondholders, then the United States increases our national debt by 5 trillion dollars which would have a profoundly negative impact on the value of the dollar and potentially bankrupting the U. S. economy. If the federal government chooses to do nothing and F&F are forced to mark their portfolio closer to market value and sell off assets to accumulate capital, then the true value of what’s in the bag becomes known. The secret will be out and now nobody will be interested in buying our Residential Mortgage Backed Securities, the market will know the true value of the loans currently being held by banks all over the U.S., mortgage lending slows way down, interest rates go way up, and the housing market goes cliff diving.

It seems to me that with this first bailout proposal (I am preparing for more bailouts as should you) everything is just going to be delayed as long as possible, taking us down further into a deeper recession step-by-step.

This bailout proposal is not enough. We have only just begun to see foreclosures rise. We still have the rest of 2008 to get through, when another round of pay option ARMS originated in 2006 begins to adjust, and through 2009 when the ARMs originated in 2007 adjust. Defaults and foreclosures are far from over.

There was a guy who predicted the demise of Fannie and Freddie back in 2006.  His proposal is that we nationalize Fannie and Freddie, quit pretending that they’re a private company, and restructure the debt, thereby forcing the bondholders to take a haircut.

Sniglet asks an interesting question (comment 123): “So what happens to the shareholders? Do any of these plans ensure that there is no dilution of equity if any form of bail-out were to occur? If the GSE shareholders aren’t protected then we could see a complete abandonment of the financial system by investors. Who will want to buy shares in financial firms if the government isn’t going to ensure their investments remain safe?”

From everything I’ve read over the weekend, the government likely will not protect shareholder equity.  Whether or not they should is up for debate.

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.”

Major Credit Score Rate Adjustments — The Hits Keep Coming

Fannie and Freddie are implementing new loan level price adjustments (LLPA) based on credit score and loan to value. This is a
change for the worse from my previous post announcing the original LLPA. Now your credit score is even more critical. Some lenders are implementing these changes immediately with terms on when the loans must be locked and closed.

The following information is for purchases and rate/term refinances with mortgage terms longer than 15 years (cash out refi’s have additional hits).

The hits shown below are “to price” and not to rate.

LTV (loan to value) 60.01% to 70%
Credit Score 720 or better — no hit
Credit Score 640 -719 is a 0.500% hit to price.
Credit Score 620 – 639 is a 0.750% hit to price.

LTV 70.01 or More
Credit Score 720 or better — no hit
Credit Score 680 to 719 is a 0.500% hit to price.
Credit Score 660 – 679 is a 1.250% hit to price.
Credit Score 640 – 659 is a 1.750% hit to price.
Credit Score 620 – 639 is a 2.500% hit to price.

These “hits” are in addition to other factors that are used for pricing rates and even though I quoted lower credit scores, don’t count on Fannie/Freddie (conforming) financing…especially if you’re eyeing the temporary conforming-jumbo which requires a minimum 660 credit score.

So if you have a 719 credit score and are putting 20% down using a 30 or 20 year fixed rate mortgage, you are going to pay 0.5% more in fee than your friend with a 720 credit score. If your loan amount is $400,000, this is an additional cost of $2000. Or the “price hit” may be factored into to the interest rate. Typically (but not always) 0.5% in fee would equal about 0.125% – 0.25% higher in rate. A quarter point difference in rate runs around $65.00 per month ($775 per year).

Recommended read: How to Improve Your Credit Score.

I also encourage anyone who is considering buying or refinancing a home to meet with a Mortgage Professional as soon as possible. A little time and elbow grease may save you thousands.

Major Changes with Appraisals for Conforming Loans

This morning it was announced from OFHEO that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have agreed to some major changes with regards to how appraisals will be ordered for conforming mortgages:

“…including eliminating broker-ordered appraisals, prohibiting appraiser coercion, and reducing the use of appraisals prepared in-house or through captive appraisal management companies in underwriting mortgages. The agreements also enhance quality control in the appraisal process and establish a complaint hotline for consumers. The agreements include a Home Valuation Code of Conduct that the Enterprises will apply to lenders selling mortgages to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The Code becomes effective on January 1, 2009.”

It’s ironic to me this is eliminating “broker-ordered” appraisals and “reducing the use of captive appraisal management companies” when it was Washington Mutual’s actions with eAppraisal that caused New York Attorney General Cuomo to investigate.

The appraiser I use has been doing his job for over 30 years. I trust him and respect his work. Last year, when he had an appraisal come in low on a property that was in a bidding war with zero down financing, I didn’t doubt him. The agents were furious…even the homebuyer wanted a new appraisal. They wound up buying the home for the appraised value instead of the bid-up price. I wonder if they realize what a favor he did for them by providing a true appraisal? (He’s come in low on some refi’s too). I have to admit, I’m less than happy realizing that I may not be able to rely on using his services for appraisals once the new guidelines go info effect.

I’m concerned that obtaining a conforming appraisal will be very similar to how VA appraisals are done: a crapshoot lottery. This is all well and good as long the appraisers in the pool are all competent and efficient. However when there is no competition for business, will it breed complacency?

I’m also wondering what will happen with the cost of appraisals. Presently, I have a rate sheet from my appraiser and I know how much the cost will be for each transaction after we have loan approval. Unless Fannie and Freddie decide to control what an appraiser will charge, the fees can vary. How will loan originators be able to provide accurate Good Faith Estimates without knowing who the appraisal will be through?

More questions than answers right now…and more changes with mortgages are on the horizon with HUD’s announcement of what the median home prices are due in about ten days.

Update: Fannie Mae is accepting comments until April 30, 2008.

What it's like to be a mortgage originator today

As a Correspondent Lender, it’s difficult for me to call myself a mortgage broker or a mortgage banker since I’m an odd [photopress:scrooged.jpg,thumb,alignright]mix of both.  I’m sure my sister-in-law who happens to be the President of our company would prefer to say the “best of both worlds” and she could be right.   This is not what this is post is about.  As a correspondent, we work with about 70 or so different lenders and all of their guidelines; the main difference between us and a broker is that we close in our credit line (more like a bank).   Although we process, underwrite and draw loan docs at our office, we still get to react to what our lenders send us as far as ever changing guidelines.   Here is one example.

At 4:45 p.m. today I received a memo from one of our lenders dated today stating important changes effective tomorrow.  I’m honestly not sure if this lender operates based on west or east coast times.   The memo states:

[Major Lender] is deeply committed to achieving two extremely important short-term goals: 

1) Responding to the current market turmoil in a manner that ensures continued strength and prosperity. 

2) Communicating these changes in a manner that reduces confusion and allows you to focus more time and energy on your customers. 

As new information is processed regarding loan credit performance, we all must be prepared to react quickly and decisively to eliminate the problem areas….This announcement is the result of feedback received from our investors and has our own analysis of the guideline characteristics that are driving under-performance of some loans, and an exhaustive project involving all areas of [Lender] to find opportunities to preserve the intended value proposition of our products while solving the specific credit problem. 

We have new memos constantly being issued per each individual lender we work with regarding what loans they’re wanting and not (what their new guidelines are).   We’re going through another “tightening” with underwriting.   Here are a few samples of what I’m witnessing from various lenders:

  • Credit based pricing all ready in effect for Fannie/Freddie (conforming) loans.  (Some banks are taking advantage of the circumstances and are increasing the rate now.  Possibly to re-coup current or future losses).
  • Non-conforming mortgages topped out at a 90% total loan to value.
  • Stated income and no-income verified mortgages are the ghost of Christmas past. 
  • 45% debt to income ratios for non-conforming no matter what your AUS (computer response) says.
  • Second mortgages are less available (we’ve gone from several lenders offering them to just a couple).
  • Bridge loans are less available.

Not all lenders (banks) have the same guidelines so as a Loan Originator who has many lenders to work with, you need to know you client and put on your dancing shoes!   As a potential home buyer or someone considering a refinance, the more time you have to work with a Mortgage Professional to get yourself in the best postion to have a mortgage, the better off you will be.