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Foreseeably Harder Approvals: FHA gets tough

If this stuff gets implemented, it's one additional challenge for the real estate industry, at a time when many agents (the ones still left, of course) are struggling to stay afloat.  This makes me sick to my stomach.

Via Ken Cook, FHA Home Loans 678-439-8683:

For many years home mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) have made home ownership possible for millions of home owners. During the "boom" FHA loans lost a lot of ground in the marketplace because non-conforming loans were often easier to get and cost the borrower less scrutiny and often less out of pocket. (More on from my article this morning.)

Welcome the day when Housing and Urban Development Secretary (HUD) Shaun Donovan stood in front of Congress and reported the reserves of the FHA insurance pool to be only .53% - far below the federally mandated, by law, 2% reserves. As you may imagine Mr. Donovan, in an effort to save his job, is now scrambling for good ideas to get those reserves back to the minimum legal level. Let us all observe as the fireman tries to put out a big fire while his own pants are on fire.

Here are some of the recommendations thus far:

  1. Raise the required minimum down payment from 3.5% to 5%

  2. Lower the maximum seller contribution from 6% to 3%

  3. Establish a required minimum credit score

  4. Eliminate the ability to finance the Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP) into the loan

  5. Raise the cost of FHA mortgage insurance (higher premiums)

Currently it is much more difficult to be approved for a home loan, purchase or refinance, than it was two years ago or even six months ago. Mortgage brokers are not dropping like flies they have already dropped like flies and the remaining small percentage are having great difficulty getting loans underwritten and closed when they involve lower credit, lower income borrowers. Mid-level lenders are now the ones who are disappearing as they still lose warehouse lines of credit at an astonishing rate. This week saw the demise of LendAmerica.

Judging from the applications I have accepted and closed over the last few months these changes will absolutely impact at least 25% of the borrowers who have successfully purchased or refinanced their homes in the last few months. In fact I have two borrowers today who easily qualify who will likely not qualify if these changes are made. Considering I'm one out of tens of thousands go ahead and do the math. 

Just wait ... it's not only FHA - it's Fannie, then Freddie and Ginnie. We predicted it a few months ago that it would not be long until buyers would need a minimum of 5% down, a minimum of a 640 credit score and rates would start to rise.

Are you ready to pay attention even if you don't get CEs for participating in the conference calls? If I were an agent I would be - I would want to be ahead of the curve!

Ken Cook - Georgia - FHA, USDA, VA and Conventional Home Loans (678) 439-8683

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