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Is The Zero-Down Mortgage Loan Making A Comeback?

Buyers may soon be able to bring less to closing. They were blamed for precipitating the housing crisis years ago, but major lenders are giving no- and low-downpayment loans another shot.

Several major lenders are reportedly offering loans with just 1 percent down. Navy Federal, the nation's largest credit union, offers its members zero-down mortgages in amounts up to $1 million. NASA Federal Credit Union markets zero-down mortgages as well.

Quicken Loans, the third highest volume lender, offers 1 percent downpayment options, as does United Wholesale Mortgage. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has offered zero-down loans to eligible borrowers for many years.

Also, Movement Mortgage, a large national lender, has introduced a financing option that provides eligible first-time buyers with a non-repayable grant of up to 3 percent. As such, applicants can qualify for a 97 percent loan-to-value ratio conventional mortgage, which is basically zero from the buyers and 3 percent from Movement. For example, on a $300,000 home purchase, a borrower could invest zero personal funds with Movement providing $9,000 down. The loan also allows sellers to contribute toward the buyer's closing costs.

So far, the delinquency rates on these low- to zero-down payment loans have been minimal, according to lenders. Quicken Loans says its 1 percent down loans have a delinquency rate of less than one-quarter of 1 percent. United Wholesale Mortgages told The Washington Post that it has had zero delinquencies from the borrowers on its 1-percent down loan since debuting it last summer.

For Movement's new loan product, the lender will originate the loans and then sell them to Fannie Mae, which remains under federal conservatorship. Fannie officials released the following a statement:

"(We're) committed to working with our customers to increase affordable, sustainable lending to creditworthy borrowers. We continue to work with a number of lenders to launch (test programs) that require 97 percent loan-to-value ratios for all loans we acquire." They add that there "is no commitment beyond the pilots," which are "focused on reaching more low- to-moderate income borrowers through responsible yet creative solutions."

During the housing crisis, zero-down loans were among the biggest losses for lenders, investors and borrowers. However, housing experts say the latest versions are different from years ago. Applicants must now demonstrate an ability to repay what's owed. They also must have stellar credit histories and scores, and lenders require a lot more documentation to prove borrowers are in good standing.

Also, many of the programs are charging higher interest rates. For example, Movement's rate for its zero-down payment option in mid-June was 4.5 percent to 4.625 percent, compared with 4 percent for its standard fixed-rate mortgages.

Some critics say that the borrowers who really could benefit from such options aren't able to qualify for them. Paul Skeens, president of Colonial Mortgage Corp. in Waldorf, Md., told The Washington Post that "it seems like people without excellent credit scores and three months of [bank] reserves don't qualify."

Source: "No Down Payment? No Problem, Say Lenders Eager to Finance Home Purchases," The Washington Post (June 14, 2017)

If you have any additional questions or queries contact us at (954).944.2799 or emailinfo@DSALegalGroup.com

 

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact an attorney.

FHA Lowers Borrowers’ Mortgage Insurance Premiums

WASHINGTON – Jan. 9, 2017 – Lower costs are coming for homebuyers seeking a Federal Housing Administration-insured (FHA) mortgage.

FHA announced that it's cutting annual premiums for mortgage insurance from 0.85 percent to 0.60 percent, a move the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) says breathes new life into the program. With FHA loans, buyers pay mortgage insurance to protect FHA's funding in exchange for downpayments as low as 3 percent.

"FHA mortgage products exist to serve an important mission: providing homeownership opportunities to creditworthy borrowers who are overlooked by conventional lenders," says NAR President William E. Brown. "The high cost of mortgage insurance has unfortunately put those opportunities out of reach for many young, first-time- and lower-income borrowers. Now, we have a real opportunity to get back on track."

Following the Great Recession, FHA increased its monthly mortgage insurance premium from 55 basis points to 90 basis points; then, in April 2013, it increased them again due to post-recession concerns over credit risk and the need to strengthen FHA's Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF). At the time, however, NAR research found that the overall 80 basis point increase nixed 1.45 million to 1.65 million renters out of the market.

Since then, the MMIF has shown continued good health, including achieving a much-watched capital reserve ratio over 2 percent for two years in a row. In light of that strength, NAR applauded FHA's move in January 2015 to reduce premiums to 85 basis points, and since then has advocated for a further reduction.

FHA mortgages are important for low- and moderate-income buyers in particular because a lower downpayment is required than with many conventional mortgage options. Buyers with lower credit scores may find more favorable treatment with an FHA loan than a conventional product as well.

"This is a question of simple math," Brown says. "Every time we cut the cost of mortgage insurance, it means more borrowers meet the debt-to-income ratio required to purchase a home. It follows that dropping mortgage insurance premiums today will mean a whole lot more responsible borrowers are suddenly eligible to purchase a home through FHA. That puts more money in the fund to protect taxpayers – and it puts more families in homes so they can live out the American dream."

While Brown thanked the FHA and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the premium cut, he suggested one other change to "better achieve FHA's mission" of serving creditworthy families: Eliminate FHA's "life of loan" mortgage insurance requirement, which forces borrowers to maintain mortgage insurance on an FHA-insured property regardless of their equity position. Borrowers with traditional mortgage insurance can typically extinguish their mortgage insurance once they reach 20 percent equity in the property.

"HUD and FHA leaders are to be commended for recognizing the need we have before us," Brown said. "Our work continues, but we're encouraged by today's announcement."

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