Archive for January, 2010

New Year, New GFE, New Problems

January 27, 2010

As of January 1, 2010, the new, standard Good Faith Estimate (GFE) implementation was underway for all banks, lenders, and brokers was underway. The new estimate design was to clear up any misconceptions or misunderstandings about a borrowers loan terms, interest rate, closing costs, etc.

Some of the highlights of the new GFE include:

– providing a summary of the loan showing the interest rate, term, if the interest rate can rise, if the loan balance can increase even with regular monthly payments, and if there is a prepayment penalty
– showing a total fee for all services required for a loan including lender fees, attorney fees, recording fees, etc.
– containing a graph showing the fees that can’t increase for any reason at closing along with the fees that can change so long as they do not exceed a 10% tolerance limit

The benefits?  That is easy – gone are the horror stories of dramatic increases in closing costs at the closing table… no confusion about the terms of the loan… makes comparison shopping easier than before.

However, nothing in this world is perfect and there are couple of items that could use some improvement on the new GFE.

– Borrowers must receive the new GFE within 3 business days of a completed loan application. Ironically, there is not a signature page for borrowers to sign and acknowledge they received it.
– The total monthly mortgage payment for the loan is not listed anywhere on the new GFE.
– The required cash needed at closing (combination of the down payment, closing costs, and prepaids) is also not listed on the new GFE.
– The new GFE shows an itemized list of the costs for services rendered (total attorney fees, total lender fees, etc.), but does not show an itemized summary of those costs. For example, say the GFE shows the attorney fee is $1,000.  That would include the cost of the attorney’s services, title exam, title insurance, etc., but it doesn’t show the dollar amount for each of those items.

Change can be a good thing, and overall, the new GFE is a good thing for consumers and a step in the right direction. That said, it will take some time to adjust – especially for borrowers looking to buy their second or third home. This format is completely different from their prior experiences!

Be sure to work with a loan originator who knows the new good faith estimate, can explain it, but also offer you some of the missing information – like the total monthly mortgage payment!

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one more thing

January 21, 2010

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is channeling their inner Steve Jobs with their continued amending/changing of loan guidelines. You know how Steve operates… even though it appears he is wrapping up the annual “state of Apple” speech, he often comes back back on stage saying “one more thing” and proceeds to introduce a new product offered by Apple.

While Steve talks about a cool new product, currently, the FHA releases tighter loan guidelines – definitely not as fun!  No one knows for sure when the tightening of loan guidelines will end, but recent changes include:

  • a 580+ credit score is now required in order to qualify for the minimum down payment of a 3.5%
  • credit scores lower than 580 will require a 10% down payment
  • the up front mortgage insurance premium will increase from 1.75% of the loan amount to 2.25% of the loan amount
  • seller contributions to closing costs will be reduced from 6% of the purchase price to only 3% of the purchase price

As always, it is more important to know how these changes will impact borrowers. Let’s take a look at each of the changes and their potential impact:

  • CREDIT SCORES – While the FHA itself has not required credit scores, lenders have required a minimum credit score of at least 620 for some time now. The lender required 620+ credit score will probably not change, so the FHA 580 credit score requirement will not apply in most cases.
  • UP FROM MORTGAGE INSURANCE – The up front mortgage insurance premium has been required in some form for as long as FHA loans have existed. The up front premium is charged to the borrower BUT rolled into the loan amount – meaning the borrower is NOT paying the fee out of their own pocket at closing. Ultimately this will only slightly reduce the max purchase price of the borrower.
  • SELLER CONTRIBUTIONS – If a borrower only has enough for the minimum down payment on an FHA loan, the seller usually pays the closing costs and prepaids on the borrower’s behalf.  Under the old guidelines, a 6% contribution of the purchase price would easily cover all closing costs and prepaids on the loan.  However, 3% of the purchase price may not cover everything and borrowers will need to find other sources (gift from a relative, low OR no closing cost loan, etc.) to cover any additional funds due at closing.

In the grand scheme of things, these changes should not have a dramatic affect on borrowers qualifying for FHA loans.  It will primarily reduce the amount of house a borrower can afford to buy.

That said, planning ahead becomes more and more important.  Gone are the days of easy financing and no planning needed.  Anyone looking to buy a home using the tax credits (for first time home buyers OR move-up buyers), need to talk to a professional and make sure everything is in order now instead of waiting until the tax credit deadline and realizing (when it may be too late) that there is a potential problem!

Conventional and FHA loans revisited

January 8, 2010

In 2008, I released a series of posts comparing the pros and cons of conventional and FHA loans.  If you haven’t noticed, a lot has changed in the last couple of years.

On that note, I thought it wise to make note of new guidelines and highlight some changes to existing guidelines for both conventional and FHA loans. For reference, I will also provide links back to the original posts from April to June 2008.

Minimum credit score requirements (click here for the original post):

  • Lenders now require a 620+ credit score for FHA loans (a 660+ credit score for some programs). Credit scores between 620-660 may see a slightly increased interest rate.  – this is a change from no minimum credit score requirements
  • Conventional loans also require a minimum credit score of 620+, but interest rates for scores under 680 see a noticeably higher interest rate. – this is a change from possible approval below 620 and higher rate adjustments occurred below 620.

Credit history requirements (new requirement):

  • Brand new – FHA loans now require borrowers to have at least three active OR recently closed trade lines (accounts) in their credit history.  See this recent post for more details.
  • Conventional loans do not have this requirement.

Minimum down payment requirements (click here for the original post):

  • FHA loans require a minimum down payment of 3.5% regardless of the credit score. – change from 3%
  • FHA down payment assistance programs are no longer allowed.
  • Conventional loans require a minimum down payment of 5% and a 680+ credit score in order to obtain Private Mortgage Insurance.  – no change in the amount needed down, but the minimum credit score requirement is new
  • If a borrower’s credit score is below 680, then a 20% down payment will be required on conventional loans.

Private Mortgage Insurance (click here and here for original posts):

  • FHA loans still require an up front Mortgage Insurance Premium fee of 1.75% of the loan amount. The fee is rolled into the loan amount. – change from 1.5% up front fee
  • FHA monthly mortgage insurance payments are still lower than conventional loans.
  • Conventional loans do not have an up front fee, which is why their monthly premiums are higher than FHA loans.

The last couple of years haven’t changed the overall differences between FHA and conventional loans.  They have however tightened up the qualifying guidelines making planning ahead crucial. If you are looking to buy (or refinance) a home in the next 6-12 months, give me a call to help ensure you everything is in order when you make an offer on a home.