Metrowest MA mortgage

David Gaffin of Greenpark Mortgage,  www.massmortgageblog.com, is here with a superb summary of what’s now going on with Massachusetts (and national) residential mortgage market.

The National and Massachusetts Mortgage Lending Picture

Lot’s has been happening in the Mortgage World lately. Refinance business is very good. Purchase business is fair, heading into the all important year end buying season.

I will let this post be a little more free-form than my taking a particular topic and expounding on it (or beating it to death) depending on your perspective.

FHA has changed guidelines… Again.

USDA is still not guaranteeing loans.

Fannie and Freddie need another $200 billion of taxpayer money.

Foreclosures stopped and started again. What could that mean to you and me?

The Fed is meeting on Nov 3 to either lay the hammer down on Quantitative Easing II or will do nothing and really mess up interest rates.

Refinance Now!

1.  So you want to refinance? My suggestions:  A. Get started now! Loan pipelines continue to be backed up. Remember the bad old days when rates were an exorbitant 4.75% for a 30 year fixed rate and everyone re-fied? When was that again? Oh, right. JUNE. Well many of those same people are now re-fiing again in the low 4′s, possibly high 3′s. And people who were late to the party are adding on. So don’t expect your file to be closed in less than 60 days. Many lenders are at 120 days for refinances. If you have a current home equity line of credit that you plan to keep open, add another 30 days or so.

It is not all doom and gloom. I know of many files that were closed in less than 45 days. Purchases always get priority and about 30-35 days is the requirement. If you lender can’t get it done in that time, well my contact info is below.

Don’t be cranky with your loan officer or processor when they request enough paper work to rebuild a forest. The secondary market has really toughened its verification guidelines, cause no one wants to be left holding the bag on a loan that goes bad. Everyone wants to ensure that the underwriting, appraisal and income verification has been double and triple checked.

Good news for Realtors

End of year buying season has begun and the clients that want to be in their new homes by year end must make some decisions soon. We should see a boost in P & S activity over the next 30 days. If that doesn’t come to fruition, it could be a long dark winter for many of my realty friends.  But rates are great! If you bought the same priced home 2 years ago, you would have paid 5-20% more than current prices and your interest rates could have been more than 2.00% higher. Now is a GREAT time to buy. I know that is self-serving, but I am a numbers and value guy. I don’t like seeing the value drop in my house either, but if I were buying I would be psyched!

FHA has changed it guidelines again as of Oct 4

FHA needs money to keep guaranteeing its loans against default. Every borrower pays a fee to get into the program and to ensure its continuation. So the fees got changed.  FHA lowered the UPMIP (up-front mortgage insurance premium) from 2.25% to 1.00%.  Sounds good right? With one hand they giveth and the other taketh away. The monthly mortgage insurance will virtually all FHA borrowers pay has moved from .55% of the base loan amount to .84% monthly. On a $200,000 loan the old cost over  7 years was $12,200 and the monthly MI was $91.67.  Now the projected expense is $13,760 and the monthly MI is $140.00. Most investors have now raised the minimum credit score requirement from 620 to 640. FHA is still the best choice for borrower’s with credit scores under 660 and who may have little equity or down payment or who need higher tolerance levels for debt to income ratios.

USDA Loans

The USDA which offers a great program, or at least did, can’t seem to get its funding in order and therefore cannot issue any conditional guarantees for loans. USDA offers several advantages over conventional and FHA loans but they are proving very hard to get. If  you would like more information on the availability of these loans, send me an email.

Freddie and Fannie are in more trouble with losses.

Do we shut them off and let the private sector take over?  We can but rates would rise dramatically and put an even further damper on the housing market.  Given that TARP actually turned a profit, I think any additional funds to rescue the GSE’s should have an opportunity for the taxpayer to make a return on the re-sold properties even if it takes years to divest the shadow inventory that they own.

Foreclosure Mess

Speaking of shadow inventory… Foreclosures are on again/off again/on again.  For legal thoughts on this check out the Mass Real Estate Law Blog by Rich Vetstein and Marc Canner.

My thoughts are that although there will be a delay to ensure that the legal work has been properly done, people will unfortunately continue to lose their homes. Many will lose them due to the economic downturn or medical reasons. Others will have lost them to predatory lenders or poor decision making on their parts. I don’t really want to get started on “It was all the lender’s fault.” Needless to say, a reason the paperwork requirements exist today, is reliant upon the the lack of paperwork requirements and shoddy underwriting in the past.

I could write several scrolls on this whole mess, but I don’t wish to bore. It may already be too late.

Big Federal Reserve Meeting

Possibly the greatest short to mid-term driver for interest rates will be what the Fed decides or doesn’t decide to do at it’s next meeting. The market has baked in that the FED will ease monetary policy further. If they don’t come through in a big way the stock market most likely will drop and interest rates will rise.  But how much will rates rise? Probably enough that any one who re-fied this summer won’t be able to do so again, or at least until some other economic driver comes to bear. So get off the fence and talk to your loan officer NOW.

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The USDA Loan: Not Just for Farmers Anymore

by Rich Vetstein on January 29, 2010

I’m pleased to welcome back guest blogger, David M. Gaffin, a licensed Loan Officer with Greenpark Mortgage Corp. of Needham MA. You can visit him at Greenpark Mortgage or through his LinkedIn profile.

Dave is here to talk about USDA loans which are, surprisingly, available in such *rural* areas of Massachusetts such as Hopkinton, Sudbury, Ashland, South Shore, Cape Cod and many other communities.

Due to the mortgage meltdown that has plagued our county for the past couple of years, lending guidelines have tightened significantly and obtaining a home loan has been more akin to giving birth. In fact, it seems that many lenders want your first born in order to complete the transaction. Low down payment and no down payment loans vanished from the landscape, unless you really knew who to speak with. FHA became the buzzword and savior to those with less than a 10% down payment in a declining real estate market.

Now that FHA is more mainstream (requiring only a 3.5% down payment and having very generous credit and debt tolerances), many think this is the only alternative to the traditional Fannie/Freddie loan.

However, there are some little known loan programs available from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that could benefit borrowers in many parts of Massachusetts and beyond. Known as the Guaranteed Rural Development Housing Section 502 Loans, these programs are designed for low to moderate income individuals or households purchasing a property in a “rural” community. The definition of rural is surprising, as you will see from the list of eligible communities in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts communities eligible for the rural loan include: Ashland, Hopkinton, Sherborn, Sudbury, Maynard, Littleton, Harvard and most of central and western Mass. Most of the South Shore and virtually all of Cape Cod are considered “rural” for this program as well. To see an interactive map of eligible Massachusetts communities follow this link.

There are some exceptional features to these programs, as well as some needed conservative features. Program Features include:

  • No Down-payment
  • No Monthly Mortgage Insurance
  • Unlimited Seller Contributions
  • The ability to repair certain aspects of the property and build in those costs into the total loan.

To be eligible to purchase a home with a Rural Housing loan, borrowers must meet income eligibility requirements.  Here is the link for Massachusetts.  For example, in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MSA (which includes most of Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk Counties) for Moderate Income a 1-4 person household’s income cannot exceed $95,100. For a 5+ household income cannot exceed $125,550.

Like FHA, the USDA programs requires an upfront fee of 2% that will guarantee the loan for the lender. FHA will allow the borrower to finance the upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) (currently 1.75% of the base loan, but scheduled to rise to 2.25% in April). In addition FHA will be reducing the allowable seller contributions from 6% to 3%. USDA will allow the upfront fee to be financed only if the appraised value of the home is greater than the purchase price.

Let’s look at the differences between FHA and USDA loans side by side:

USDA v. FHA FHA USDA
Appraised Value $200,000 $200,000
Purchase Price $175,000 $175,000
Down Payment 3.5% FHA $6,125 $0
Upfront Fee 2.25% FHA 2% USDA $3,800 $3,500
Monthly Mortgage Insurance $77 $0
Allowable Seller Contributions $6,000 $25,000
*Assumes $200 monthly taxes and $50 monthly homeowners insurance.  Interest rate of 5.50%, $400 monthly consumer debt

As you can see, with the upcoming FHA changes, the USDA loan requires less out of pocket, a lower guaranty fee and greater flexibility in managing the closing costs associated with the transaction.

The USDA loan is more conservative in qualifying than FHA, but that is probably a good thing. FHA, with its looser guidelines, is in trouble and may need the dreaded taxpayer bailout. FHA’s overall percentage of loan activity has increased from roughly 3% of closed loans to about 40%. With no minimum credit score and debt to income limits of 55%, the fact that folks are defaulting on these loans and FHA has tightened its requirements is not surprising.

David Gaffin, Greenpark Mortgage

USDA qualifies borrowers with more traditional debt ratios of 29% for housing and 41% for overall indebtedness. This is good for the borrower, who will not bite off more than they can chew, and for the taxpayer as the default rate on these loans is less than FHA. However, you will need to earn a higher income to qualify for the same house with USDA than FHA.

So, what do you do if you want more information about these loans?  Start by visiting the USDA program page.

You may also contact me with any questions you may have at dgaffin@greeparkmortgage.com.

Greenpark Mortgage Corp. is licensed to originate USDA loans in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Florida.

Wow, what a great post Dave. I never knew about this program and its availability in some of the most toniest “rural” towns in Massachusetts.

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David Gaffin, Greenpark Mortgage

I’m pleased to welcome another guest blogger, David M. Gaffin, a licensed Loan Officer with Greenpark Mortgage Corp. of Needham MA. Dave is licensed to originate in MA, NH and FL. You can visit him at Greenpark Mortgage or through his LinkedIn profile.

The new 2010 RESPA rules are all the rage right now. So I’m especially pleased to have a mortgage industry veteran like Dave to offer his views on the new rules, especially the new Good Faith Estimate (GFE).

So, you thought getting a home loan for purchase or refinance before was confusing? Well, I’ve got GREAT NEWS for you. Your government has heard you and has come to help! (Insert Sarcastic Mental Voice.)  The federal Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD) has dismantled the previous 1 page Good Faith Estimate that itemized most of the settlement charges for your loan and created a new 3 page “simplified” GFE to “help borrowers understand and compare the costs associated with obtaining a mortgage.”

In my opinion, HUD is trying to do at least 2 things for consumers:

1. Protect the consumer from dealing with shady mortgage companies that will disclose certain fees on the GFE, and then charge higher or additional fees at the closing table and

2. Encourage consumers to use the GFE as a shopping tool to ensure a fair deal.

An informed consumer will typically make better choices than an ill-informed one, so the premise behind the changes to the new GFE is a worthwhile one. However, there are several areas where a consumer may not be able to compare the costs of loan programs on an equal basis and thus make the most appropriate loan choice.

Page 1 of the new GFE groups together all of the “Adjusted Origination Charges” (e.g. processing and underwriting fees, points, doc prep, etc.) as one figure and the Charges for All Other Settlement Services (e.g. closing attorney fees, title insurance, recording fees, etc.) associated with closing your loan as another figure and adds them together to come up with the Total Estimate Settlement Charges.

The new GFE also spells out your loan amount, loan term, interest rate and the initial monthly payment for principal interest and any mortgage insurance.

However the new GFE does not include expected expenses for monthly real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, or home owner’s association dues. Nor does it inform the borrower about expected funds needed to close the loan. Because all the origination charges are lumped together, the new GFE is not specific in disclosing the number of points required to close the loan. It also does not include the Annual Percentage Rate, or APR.

Escrow funding for reserves of real estate taxes, home owner’s insurance and mortgage insurance are included on page 1.

However, despite the fact that this total sum should be uniform across lenders, the new GFE allows the lender to quote whatever number of months of reserves they choose, resulting in a variance of hundreds or thousands of dollars when comparing GFEs. This is not a borrower savings from lender to lender. At settlement these charges will be the same for all lenders.  This could result in the borrower unexpectedly bringing additional funds to the closing.  Some mortgage companies will try to gain a competitive advantage by initially disclosing lower escrow totals.  This would be an unfair and deceptive trade practice to the consumer.

Page 2 breaks into sections the charges for All Other Settlement Services which will include such newly disclosed charges as Owner’s Title Insurance, (which is an optional, but recommended purchase) and Transfer Taxes.  In many states, the Transfer Taxes are disclosed as a borrower–related cost, even though the borrower may not be responsible for this cost, thereby inflating the Total Charge Estimate.

Page 3 gives the consumer information about which expense items on the GFE cannot increase at settlement, which one’s can have a total increase of a 10% increase and which ones can change without limit. The origination charges cannot change at settlement.

Lenders who allow borrowers to choose settlement service providers will receive a Page 4 to the new GFE which will list those providers.

Analysis:  Does the new GFE Help Consumers Or Is It Just Another Complicated Form?

I have been in the mortgage industry for many years and have advanced educational degrees. I have passed my required national and state licensing exams and even I find this form to be confusing and not very helpful when comparing loans. My job as a loan consultant is to inform and educate my clients so that we arrive at the best loan program for them with the least costs based on their needs. I use different tools to compare programs, including cost/benefit analysis, total interest paid comparisons, length of loan term reviews, etc., but, with the new GFE rules, I must disclose 1 loan program within 3 business days of collecting 6 points of entry for an application. If I fail to do so, even if the borrower and I have not determined the best program for them yet, I am in violation of the law. I do not see how this helps the borrower determine the best loan program.

I will give HUD credit for trying, and as this is now the law of the land it is what we must all work with, however, given the vast departure from the look and feel of the previous form, it is going to take a lot of education on the part of loan officers, realtors and attorneys to establish a comfort level with the borrower’s understanding of the form.

When a borrower chooses a lender, they should be referred by someone they trust, should check out the lender’s and loan officer’s reputation by reviewing its website or other public information and feel comfortable that the loan officer is knowledgeable, understands their needs and has the borrower’s best interests in mind.  Then a GFE received from that company can be viewed as a Good Faith Accurate, and not just a Good Faith Estimate.

Dave, thanks so much for your insightful analysis! This is a great post and a boon for our readers. This underscores why borrowers must have an experienced and knowledgeable loan officer such as David Gaffin on their team.

I have certainly spend a fair amount of time digesting the new changes, but perhaps that is because I am so used to the old forms. The irony may well be that many consumers will be seeing the new GFE for the first time and may not be as confused as some of us industry veterans. Adjusting to major changes to long standing practices is always difficult.

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