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Category Archive: ‘Mortgage News’

Robo-Appraisals

‘Warranty relief’ means that taxpayers will be on the hook.

LINK

Freddie Mac announced Friday it is making buying a home a better experience for lender and homebuyers – by cutting the appraiser out of the process.

The company is now offering a new product which will cut the appraisal process out of qualified home purchases and refinances. This could save borrowers an estimated $500 in fees and could reduce closing times by as much as 10 days.

The new Automated Collateral Evaluation assesses the need for a traditional appraisal by using proprietary models and utilizing data from multiple listing services and public records as well as the historical home values in order to determine collateral risks.

“By leveraging big data and advanced analytics, as well as 40+ years of historical data, we’re cutting costs and speeding up the closing process for borrowers,” said David Lowman, Freddie Mac executive vice president of single-family business.

“At the same time, we’re providing immediate collateral representation and warranty relief to lenders,” Lowman said. “This is just one example of how we are reimagining the mortgage process to create a better experience for consumers and lenders.”

Lenders can determine if a property is eligible for ACE by submitting the data through Freddie’s loan product advisor. This will then assess credit, capacity and collateral to determine the quality of the loan. Lenders will receive the risk assessment feedback in real time.

ACE will be available for home purchases beginning on September 1, 2017.

Earlier this summer, the company announced it began using this product on qualified refis beginning June 19, 2017.

“When we launched loan advisor suite in July 2016, we set out to give our customers certainty, usability, reliability and efficiency,” said Andy Higginbotham, senior vice president of strategic delivery and operations for Freddie Mac’s single-family business. “ACE is our most recent capability to deliver on that vision.”

Fannie Mae also updated its policy on appraisals this year, and clarified its “existing policy that allows an unlicensed or uncertified appraiser, or an appraiser trainee to complete the property inspection. When the unlicensed or uncertified appraiser or appraiser trainee completes the property inspection, the supervisory appraiser is not required to also inspect the property.”

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Posted by on Aug 19, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Mortgage News, Mortgage Qualifying | 1 comment

Lower Down Payments

It’s hard to lower the down payment on a jumbo loan so any effect on the coastal regions is probably minimal, but this suggests that the stronger buyers are giving way or running out:

Seen at CR and MND:

LINK

An excerpt:

This month, in light of much commentary and speculation on the re-emergence of purchase loans with loan-to-value (LTV) ratios of 97 percent or higher, Black Knight looked at low-down-payment purchase lending trends, gaining some early insight into the performance of these products. As Black Knight Data & Analytics Executive Vice President Ben Graboske explained, in general, low-down-payment purchases are on the rise, but this does not necessarily mean a return to the practices – and risks – of the past.

“Over the past 12 months, approximately 1.5 million borrowers have purchased homes using less-than-10-percent down payments,” said Graboske. “That is close to a seven-year high in low-down-payment purchase volumes. The increase is primarily a function of the overall growth in purchase lending, but, after nearly four consecutive years of declines, low-down-payment loans have ticked upwards in market share over the past 18 months as well. In fact, they now account for nearly 40 percent of all purchase lending.

The bulk of the growth has not been among the various three-percent-or-less down payment programs that have been reintroduced in the last few years, but rather in five-to-nine- percent down payment mortgages. This segment grew at twice the rate of the overall purchase market in late 2016, whereas lending with down payments of less than five percent grew at about the market average.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2017/08/black-knight-mortgage-monitor-low-down.html

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This is good news:

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Mortgage News, Mortgage Qualifying | 0 comments

Mortgage-Interest Deduction

The Wall Street Journal published this article about the mortgage-interest deduction having little – or no – impact on the decisions made by homebuyers:

LINK

Of course, the N.A.R., who is beholden to our lobbyists, refuses to consider any changes.  The N.A.R. spent $64,821,111 last year on lobbying – we should quit paying them and spend that money on a rocking real estate portal that benefits all realtors!

Instead, our beleaguered president shuffled up to the podium one more time to vomit the usual beliefs, whether true or not:

The mortgage interest deduction, backed by the influential nationwide lobbying of real-estate agents and home builders warning against precipitous price drops, has survived decades of attacks and is extremely unlikely to vanish this year.

William Brown, president of the National Association of Realtors, said that removing incentives for homeownership, including the mortgage interest deduction, would be a mistake.

“Studies comparing our housing market to that of a foreign country offer an apples-to-oranges scenario that often isn’t constructive,” Mr. Brown said in a statement. “What we know for sure is that home values would suffer if the mortgage interest deduction disappeared, potentially putting homeowners under water.”

Curbing the deduction would give cash buyers an advantage, said Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders.

President Donald Trump has promised to protect the mortgage interest deduction. But even under the plans from Mr. Trump and congressional Republicans, the deduction could lose some of its punch.

With mortgage rates so low, the actual benefit isn’t what it used to be. In addition, wouldn’t rising rents and getting rich quick be bigger motivators than the MID?  Have you noticed that you never hear banks arguing for the MID?

Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Mortgage News, Mortgage Qualifying | 6 comments

Fed Raises, Mortgage Rates Drop

Rates are under 4.0%, no points! From MND:

Mortgage rates fell convincingly today, though not all lenders adjusted rates sheets in proportion to the gains seen in bond markets (which underlie rate movement).  Those gains came early, with this morning’s economic data coming in much weaker than expected.  Markets were especially sensitive to the Consumer Price Index (an inflation report) which showed core annual inflation at 1.7% versus a median forecast of 1.9%.

Core annual inflation under 2.0% is a hot topic–especially today–considering that’s one of the Fed’s main goals.  This afternoon’s Fed Announcement did acknowledge the recent drop in inflation, but continued to suggest it was being held down by temporary factors.  The Fed also officially unveiled its framework for decreasing the amount of bonds its buying (though it didn’t announce a start to the program yet).

Bottom line: Fed bond buying is one of the reasons rates are as low as they are.  Markets know the Fed will eventually enact this plan and they’ve accounted for that to the best of their ability.  But as the Fed actually goes through the steps toward enacting the plan, it causes some upward pressure for rates.  That was the case this afternoon, but bond markets were nonetheless able to hold on to a majority of improvement seen this morning.  As such, the day ended with most lenders offering their lowest rates in exactly 8 months (a few days following the presidential election).

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in Interest Rates/Loan Limits, Jim's Take on the Market, Market Buzz, Mortgage News, Mortgage Qualifying | 0 comments

Private Down-Payment Assistance

Those with less skin in the game are typically the people who have the most trouble in a down market. Apparently, the potential profit must be so large that the investors overlook that – or figure there is little chance the government will let the market go down again?

LINK

Several years after her divorce, Tricia DeWaal was still living in the 3,200-square-foot home where she’d raised her children. When her youngest moved out, DeWaal knew it was time to downsize.

“For what I wanted, I had a 20% down payment, but that would pretty much clean me out in terms of cash,” DeWaal told MarketWatch. “I wanted to have some backup.”

After lots of online research, DeWaal came across a company called Unison, which had an intriguing sales pitch. The company’s home-buyer program offers buyers money for a down payment in exchange for a share of equity in the home, to be paid back when the owner sells.

DeWaal had what she called a “very positive experience.” “It’s definitely a good thing for somebody who’s trying to afford a certain amount that they can’t quite get to,” she said.

Homeownership’s biggest barrier to entry, the down payment, looms larger and larger all across the country. Student debt payments and high rents are formidable barriers to saving, and, while there are plenty of ways to buy a home with less than 20% down, all require some form of mortgage insurance, making them more expensive.

For a long time, nonprofits have tried to help home buyers up and over the hurdle. But in today’s tight market and constrained lending environment, fintech companies are seeing an opportunity as well, particularly in the hottest housing markets, where 20% down can mean six figures.

Unison and a competitor, OWN Home Finance, which is set to launch a similar product later this year, got started years ago with a slightly different business model: allowing homeowners with high levels of accrued equity a means of tapping into that money.

Here’s how Unison’s model works: The company contributes up to 50% of the down payment, or 10% of the total cost of the home, and, then, when the owner sells, Unison takes a share of the profit, usually 35% — or a share of the loss, also usually 35%.

For many housing market observers, the idea makes a lot of sense.

“I love to see the experiment,” Brett Theodos, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, told MarketWatch. “It’s really intriguing as home prices appreciate and incomes don’t. It feels like a missing rung in the ladder between renting and owning. We have so many investment vehicles that you can get into for small amounts of money, but homeownership is very much an all-or-nothing proposition.”

Still, with programs like these, according to Theodos and other experts, the devil is in the details.

Read More

Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Down Payments, Jim's Take on the Market, Mortgage News, Thinking of Buying? | 4 comments

Reduce the Down Payments?

When the day comes that you hear the big banks pushing for reduced-doc loans, you’ll know that the top of the market is near:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-bank-of-america-mortgages-idUSKCN18E37J

The head of Bank of America Corp, the United State’s fourth-biggest mortgage lender, said on Thursday banks would be able to supply a bigger share of funding for home purchases if the standard down payment for buyers was cut to 10 percent from 20 percent.

The vast majority of mortgages are underwritten to strict standards set by the U.S. government or quasi-government entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While down payment requirements can vary, they offer fairly little latitude to lenders that do not want to take all the risk themselves. As a result, many prospective homebuyers who cannot come up with a 20 percent down payment are unable to get a loan.

“Our goal – going back to regulatory reform – is should you move the down payment requirement from 20 percent to 10? It wouldn’t introduce that much risk but would actually help a lot of mortgages get done,” Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan told CNBC in an interview Thursday.

Bank of America was the top U.S. mortgage lender ahead of the 2008 mortgage crisis, causing it to face greater losses, both from defaults and litigation, than any other bank. Under Moynihan, who took the helm at the start of 2010, the bank has tightened lending standards and executives regularly use the motto “responsible growth” in public speeches.

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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Mortgage News, Mortgage Qualifying | 2 comments

Will The Real Estate Bubble Pop Again?

Our local home prices have risen so quickly that it feels like we’re in ‘bubble’ conditions again – could the bubble burst this time?

The last two times the real estate bubble has popped, it was due to banks having to offload their foreclosed properties for whatever the market will bear.  They flooded the market, and buyers – and prices – backed off.

But that has all changed now.

Look at the new devices being used to avoid a flood of desperate selling:

  1. New accounting rules.
  2. California Homeowners Bill of Rights
  3. Reverse mortgages

The accounting rules were altered so banks could hold their REO properties longer, and the California Homeowners Bill of Rights has, in effect, stopped foreclosing.  Lenders are now required to offer a loan modification to anyone in default, and only if the homeowner can’t or won’t qualify are they at risk of being foreclosed.   With today’s higher rents, there isn’t much relief for those in default to give back their house and go lease one nearby.  Besides, with our higher home values today, they can always sell before getting foreclosed.

Homeowners who need money can get a reverse mortgage too, as long as they haven’t been tapping into their equity already.

We end up with virtually no desperate sellers who need to dump on price.  Someone who wants to cash out quickly can price their home at last year’s comps and look like a deal!

The game is rigged – the Banking Cartel won’t let the bubble pop again!

For the bubble to pop, we would need a dramatic shift in the supply and demand – either a flood of homes hit the market, and/or we run out of buyers.

I thought we’d be seeing more baby boomers unloading their homes due to downsizing or sickness, and while the market consists mainly of those listings, there aren’t enough of them to call it a flood – at least not yet.  Because they are in quality locations, more kids are probably trying to buy out their siblings and take over their parents’ house, rather than sell it.  They could be moving in with the folks too, rather than sending them to assisted living.

Could we run out of buyers? You would think there would be a price point where buyers can’t or won’t go any higher, but there seems to be a steady flow of people with more horsepower.  We saw two weeks ago the prediction that the population of San Diego County is expected to grow by 700,000 people by 2050, which is over 21,000 per year – where are they going to live? Will they be rich? They will need to be!

There hasn’t been enough (has there been any?) sellers so desperate that they had to dump on price – instead, they just keep waiting.  We would need more than a few price-dumpers to start a panic, which could cause the market to flood with supply and burst the bubble.

Some air might escape occasionally, but it is doubtful that a market change could occur without the government finding a way to save the bankers.

People like this guy think the conditions are ripe for a downturn.  But if prices started falling, sellers are more likely to wait, than dump, which would cause our market to stagnate, rather than crash.

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in Boomer Liquidations, Boomers, CA Homeowners Bill of Rights, Foreclosures/REOs, Jim's Take on the Market, Loan Mods, Market Conditions, Mortgage News | 3 comments

HELOC Volume Up 21%

Homeowners are opening their favorite piggy bank again — their homes.

As home values rise faster than expected, that increased homeowner wealth suddenly seems more enticing. It’s showing up in big remodeling growth and higher profits for retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s, but it also serves as a warning sign.

Ever since the epic housing crash at the end of the last decade, homeowners have been extremely conservative with their home equity. Even those who had money in their homes kept it there, fearing another downturn in prices. Now, as millions of borrowers come up from underwater on their home loans and many more see their home values jump sizably on paper, borrowing more is back in favor.

Home equity lines of credit, known as HELOCs and often serving as second loans, allow homeowners to pull cash out of their homes when they need it. HELOC volume is now up 21 percent in the past two years, to the highest level since 2008, according to Moody’s. It is still nowhere near its housing boom level, when many people treated their homes like ATMs, but the trajectory is definitely pointing higher.

“The more second liens that people take out, it adds a risk that comes from the rising home prices. The fact that people are leveraging their homes more than before makes things more risky,” said Peter McNally, senior analyst at Moody’s.

Borrowers are also putting smaller down payments on home loans now, starting with less home equity either to save cash or because they can’t afford anything more. To put it in perspective, before the last housing boom, the median down payment was just over 7 percent. It then dropped to 3 percent during the height of the boom, as lenders offered all kinds of “creative” loan products that required little to no down payment.

After the crash, much of that lending became illegal and new rules made low down-payment loans more expensive to produce. As a result, down payments rose back above 7 percent again during the recovery. At the end of 2016, the median down payment had fallen to 6 percent, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, and it appears to be headed lower, as lenders offer more low down-payment products.

Read full article here:

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/03/more-homeowners-cashing-in-on-their-new-housing-wealth.html

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Posted by on Mar 3, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Mortgage News | 0 comments

120% Mortgages

In the last downturn, there were a surprising amount of people who were underwater but hung on – and today with record-high prices, they are glad they did.  We learned that whether you had equity or not, the chance of default was influenced by other factors.  If that’s the case, lenders might as well finance the whole enchilada, and price in the same or similar percentage of defaults as last time.

http://www.housingwire.com/articles/39288-burkeyloan-to-offer-120-ltv-mortgage-that-also-pays-student-loans

BurkeyLoan launched its BurkeyLoan Mortgage division Tuesday which included its 120% loan-to-value mortgage product that funds both a home purchase and the borrower’s student loans.

BurkeyLoan, a portfolio mortgage lender, will issue, hold and service BurkeyLoan mortgages. The company’s 120% LTV product will allow Millennials to pay off or reduce their student loan debt in order to buy a home.

“After considerable research, review and analysis, we needed to build an access to capital product for the millennial generation,” BurkeyLoan Chairman and CEO John Burkey said. “Many millennials feel they are on a financial treadmill, making every effort to pay off student loans and save for a home while interest rates and home prices escalate.”

“Our mortgage product offers features and benefits that support the needs of the millennial generation,” Burkey said. “The company will utilize sound conservative underwriting that incorporates borrower credit, character, skin-in-the-game and risk mitigation.”

The program is available to community, regional and other banks as well as credit unions that broker residential mortgages.

But BurkeyLoan isn’t the first company to reach out to first time homebuyers struggling with student loans. Back in November, SoFi and the government-sponsored enterprise Fannie Mae announced a new loan option allowing homeowners to refinance their mortgage at a lower rate and pay down the balance of an existing student loan.

The average student graduates with just over $30,000 in student loan debt, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. The median home price increased to $228,900 in January, according to the National Association of Realtors. The new LTV 120% program may enable homebuyers to pay off the average student loan amount, while offering a change to invest in their housing.

Posted by on Feb 23, 2017 in Ideas/Solutions, Jim's Take on the Market, Mortgage News | 5 comments

Wire Fraud by Hackers

It happened to us – hackers got into somebody’s account.

They posed as the escrow officer and tried to divert my buyers’ down payment to the wrong bank account.  Their timing was impeccable too.

Six days before closing, an email was sent to the buyers that looked like a normal email from the escrow officer:

Good morning (buyers’ names),

We are getting close to closing. It is important that we get the Cash to Close to avoid delays in closing.

Please tell me when you would wire the Cash to Close.

Regards, (escrow officer’s name)

The buyer asked for the amount and for wire instructions by email – and the hacker responded three times by email and even sounded like the escrow officer.  This was the tip-off though:

Please find attached the wiring instructions. It is an account of one of our subsidiary company as our main account is currently undergoing compliance audit. As such, any funds entering the account would be held for review which would grossly affect the scheduled closing date.  The total closing cost is X.

The hacker asked for an amount that was within $2,000 of being accurate, and if the buyers had been in a big hurry, they might have just sent it.

Thankfully, Mr. Buyer called the escrow officer direct to verify. The escrow officer was stunned – she hadn’t sent any emails to the buyers that day!

Because no crime was actually committed, the escrow, title, and mortgage companies just shrugged it off.  We won’t ever know who the hackers were, or how they got in, but to call it unsettling is an under-statement.

From my buyer:

We felt very unnerved yet relieved. I couldn’t sleep that night, knowing how close we came to losing a substantial amount of money, by nearly anyone’s standards. I personally felt helpless, because I’m not sure what I could have done to recognize this fraud. We consider ourselves pretty plugged in and so we didn’t think twice about getting a wire request from escrow.

The bottom line is, escrow and bank request a lot of items and need responses ASAP so that escrow proceeds to a timely close. Therefore buyers are, in many cases, reading highly technical documents ‘on the fly’, often from smart phone screens. In my case, this meant that I was usually just skimming documents and electronically signing without really studying the material.

The escrow company did say in their instructions that buyers should call before wiring any funds. I didn’t notice this until after the attempted theft of our money. In the future, I would like to see escrow go back to speaking with buyers more often, instead of just emailing documents for signature. It sets a more personal tone and makes buyers more comfortable in picking up the phone to talk to the escrow agent with questions, rather than always relying on electronic communication.

Some escrow companies are now encrypting their wire instructions, but they are missing the point.  The hackers are way ahead of us!  All they need is a copy of the purchase contract (which agents, buyers, sellers, escrow and lenders email around unsecured), and the hackers can figure out the rest.

They just pose as the escrow officer a day early, and ask the buyers to wire the down payment and closing costs to them!

Posted by on Feb 23, 2017 in Fraud, Jim's Take on the Market, Mortgage News, Scams | 7 comments