Credit Scores


Daily Real Estate News | Friday, September 30, 2011

 

Starting Saturday, many borrowers in pricey housing markets may find they’ll need a higher down payment or pay higher rates. The size of mortgages that the government will back in several high-priced regions is set to drop on Oct. 1, which some analysts expect will serve as another thorn to the housing market.

In 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac raised its cap on conforming loans up to $729,750 in some of the most expensive housing markets so that larger mortgages would be available to home buyers. But those caps are set to reset on Oct. 1, scaling back to a maximum of $625,500 in some areas of the country.

Housing analysts say the drop will make it more expensive and harder for some buyers to qualify for home purchases in expensive markets, particularly along the coasts.

“The down-payment issue is the most significant aspect form borrowers standpoint,” says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “These changes will price some prospective borrowers out of the market.”

Source: “Big Borrowers Face Larger Down-Payments, Rates,” MarketWatch (Sept. 30, 2011) and “Big Mortgages: Harder to Get and More Expensive With Loan Caps,” CNNMoney (Sept. 30, 2011)

Read More:
On Loan Limit Drop, Middle Faces Hard Hit

House Fails to Vote on Extending Loan Limits

S&P Lowers Fannie, Freddie Credit Rating-Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of lenders backed by the federal

government on the heels of the first-ever lowering of the U.S.’s credit rating.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other government-backed lenders were lowered one step from AAA to AA+, S&P reported in a statement issued Monday. Some analysts say the downgrade may force home buyers to pay higher mortgage rates.

“The downgrades of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reflect their direct reliance on the U.S. government,” S&P said in a statement. “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed into conservatorship in September 2008 and their ability to fund operations relies heavily on the U.S. government.”

The GSEs own or guarantee more than half of U.S. mortgage debt.

Freddie Mac said that the lower debt rating will cause “major disruptions” in its home-lending by possibly reducing the supply of mortgages it can purchase. It said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the lower rating could hamper home prices and even lead to more home-loan defaults on mortgages it guarantees.

Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Monday assured investors that securities issued by GSEs are sound. “The government commitment to ensure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have sufficient capital to meet their obligations, as provided for in the Treasury’s senior preferred stock purchase agreement with each enterprise, remains unaffected by the Standard & Poor’s action,” said Edward DeMarco, FHFA acting director.

Some analysts and lenders have said they don’t see the fallout from the S&P downgrade on the U.S. and other banks as having such a widespread affect. “It’s likely that once the storm passes, you’ll get an increase in mortgage rates because of this, but it won’t be significant,” says Anika Khan, a housing economist at Wells Fargo.

S&P also announced on Monday that it had lowered its credit ratings for 10 of 12 federal home loan banks and federal farm credit banks from AAA to AA+.

Source: “S&P Lowers Fannie, Freddie Citing Reliance on Government,” Bloomberg (Aug. 8, 2011); “S&P Downgrades Fannie and Freddie, Farm Lenders and Bank Debt Backed by U.S. Government,” Associated Press (Aug. 8, 2011); Freddie Mac Reports $4.7B Loss, Says S&P Downgrade Will Disrupt Mortgage Market,” Associated Press (Aug. 8, 2011); and “FHFA Assures Investors After Fannie, Freddie Downgrade,” HousingWire (Aug. 8. 2011)

Read More:
Will the S&P Downgrade Affect Interest Rates?

Mortgage lending at lowest level since 1997

Despite near-record-low mortgage rates, a combination of factors is depressing the industry. Many people have simply decided homeownership isn’t for them.

 

  • Despite the confluence of lower home prices and rates, new mortgages are down by a third compared with 2010. Lenders will write about $1 trillion in home loans this year, the smallest total since 1997, according to the Mortgage Bankers Assn., which projects home lending will fall even lower in 2012.
Despite the confluence of lower home prices and rates, new mortgages are… (Seth Perlman, Associated Press)

 

August 06, 2011|By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times
Despite near-record-low mortgage rates and the cheapest housing prices in eight years, home lending has slipped this year to the lowest level since 1997.The laggard loan market can be explained in part by the slow economy, numerous foreclosures and the proliferation of “underwater” loans, those that exceed the value of the properties they secure.

 

But other factors are compounding the problem, including so-called refi burnout — how many times, after all, can one refinance a home? — and a wave of people who have simply decided that homeownership isn’t what it was cracked up to be.

Weary of a noisy tenant on the other side of a common wall, Bruce and Deborah Dennis sold their Arcadia duplex in April, banked a $600,000 profit and went looking for a quieter place to spend their 60s.

Bruce’s boss, a property manager, urged them to buy another home, saying they’d never again see prices and mortgage rates so low at the same time. The couple searched seriously for two months, even bidding on a home. In the end, they opted to rent a house, leery of tying up capital and taking on the headaches of ownership with the housing market so shaky.

“We thought, ‘Is buying really what we want to do?’ I have no confidence that home prices are going back up any time soon,” Bruce Dennis said.

Opt-outs like the Dennises are one reason the mortgage business, which led the way into the Great Recession, is taking so long to come out of it.

Another factor is the slowing of the refinance market. Mortgage costs are near historical lows, with lenders offering 30-year fixed-rate loans at about 4.2% to Californians seeking $400,000 mortgages, online home-loan specialist Lending Tree said Thursday.

But most of the lucky homeowners who still have equity and solid finances have already refinanced once or more and have long since locked in annual rates of less than 5%.

In 2003, as the housing boom took hold and 30-year fixed mortgage rates fell below 6%, refinancings propelled home lending to four times the current volume. And as the rate tumbled toward 5% and then smashed that barrier in 2009 for the first time since 1956, there was twice as much mortgage lending as now.

“There is a burnout phenomenon,” said Mortgage Bankers Assn. economist Michael Fratantoni. In addition, many would-be refinancers have been stopped by the declines in home prices, now back at 2003 levels, which has left them owing far more than their homes are worth.

“Borrowers who couldn’t qualify for 4.5% mortgages last year for the most part still can’t qualify this year,” Fratantoni said.

And getting the purchase market up and running again would require “significant job growth,” he said, something that has failed to materialize in the sluggish recovery that is threatening to fall back into recession.

 

 

The result of all this: Despite the confluence of lower home prices and rates, new mortgages are down by a third compared with 2010. Lenders will write about $1 trillion in home loans this year, the smallest total since 1997, according to the Mortgage Bankers Assn., which projects that home lending will fall even lower in 2012.Some say the combination of falling home prices, tight credit in the aftermath of the financial crisis and the flood of foreclosure sales has undermined the traditional view of homeownership as the engine of financial success.

“The previous assumptions that housing is a good investment, or that home prices can only go up, or that all Americans should be able to buy a home, are being seriously challenged,” Morgan Stanley housing analysts wrote last month in a study titled “A Rentership Society.”

In the middle of the last decade, when the term “ownership society” was coined, the homeownership rate was nearly 70%, the report noted. If delinquent borrowers were excluded, it said, the current rate of 66.4% today would instead be 59.7%.

For those willing to take out mortgages despite all the grim news, the prospects are improving slightly. Lenders have eased certain terms for the first time since the mortgage meltdown took hold, and some on the front lines say banks are abandoning the scrutiny bordering on suspicion with which they had come to regard potential borrowers.

“All those granular issues we were beating people up about over the last three years seem to be going away,” Laguna Niguel mortgage broker Jeff Lazerson said. “The hassles over old credit inquiries. Having to explain every entry on a bank statement.”

Spokesmen for Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp., the largest mortgage companies, said they recently eased standards slightly for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, which are attractive to first-time buyers because they require relatively small down payments.

However, among younger buyers, “there’s not much feeling that they need to buy right away,” Fratantoni said. “I expect that may change over the next couple of years, but certainly for the first-time buyer there’s less near-term demand.”

Older people can be ownership-averse as well, like the Dennises, who intend to work five more years before they retire.

“To buy another house, we were going to have to come up with a chunk of change for a down payment,” Bruce Dennis said. “Then there were property taxes, and of course maintenance — that gets expensive in a hurry.

“The glories of homeownership we no longer have to face.”

scott.reckard@latimes.com

Will the S&P Downgrade Affect Interest Rates?

Daily Real Estate News | Monday, August 08, 2011

 

Standard & Poor downgraded the U.S.’s credit rating on Friday, despite Congress reaching a deal in the final hours on the debt ceiling crisis last week. And now many of your customers may be asking: What does this mean for interest rates?“The impact on your wallet of the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the nation’s credit rating is similar to what would happen if your own credit score declined: The cost of borrowing money is likely to go up,” the Washington Post explained in the aftermath of S&P’s decision.

S&P downgraded the U.S.’s top-notch AAA credit rating for the first time in history, moving it down one notch to AA+; the rating reflects a downgrade in S&P’s confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to repay its debts over time. It’s not clear, however, whether S&P’s downgrade will instantly effect rates, analysts say.

The 10-year Treasury note is considered the basis for all other interest rates. And “the downgrade could increase the yields on those bonds, forcing the government to spend more to borrow the same amount of money,” the Washington Post article notes. “Many consumer loans, such as mortgages, are linked to the yield on Treasurys and therefore would also rise.”

Watch this video with NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun for more information.

While consumers who have fixed interest rate mortgages will be immune to any changes in borrowing costs, home buyers shopping for a loan or those with mortgages that fluctuate may see a rise in rates later on, some analysts say.

Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, told the Associated Press that he doesn’t expect the downgrade to drive up interest rates instantly since the economy is still weak and borrowers aren’t competing for money and driving rates higher. However, he expects in three to five years, loan demand will be much higher and then the downgraded credit rating might cause rates to rise.

Analysts are still waiting to see if the other rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, follows S&P’s lead in its downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. If so, the aftermath could be much worse, analysts say.

The debt deal reached by Congress last week was expected to save the U.S. from any credit rating downgrade. However, S&P said lawmakers fell short in its deal. Congress’ deal called for $2 trillion in U.S. deficit reduction over the next 10 years; S&P had called for $4 trillion.

Source: “5 Ways the Downgrade in the U.S. Credit Rating Affects You,” The Washington Post (Aug. 8, 2011); Questions and Answers on Standard & Poor’s Downgrading of U.S. Federal Debt,” Associated Press (Aug. 6, 2011); and S&P Downgrade Will Shake Consumer and Business Confidence at a Fragile Time, Economists Say,” Associated Press (Aug. 6, 2011)

Read More

Real Estate OK in Debt Deal But Risks Remain

Young Generation Hit Hard by Recession

Daily Real Estate News | Monday, August 08, 2011

 

The recession has hit the younger generation hard and is forcing them to delay many major life changes and purchases, according to a new survey. About 44 percent of Millennials — people aged 18 to 29 — say they will have to delay buying a home due to economic factors, according to a survey conducted by The Polling Co. Inc./WomanTrend.

About 75 percent say they have or will delay a major life change or purchase due to economic factors, and 30 percent say the bad economy has prompted them to delay changing jobs or cities. What’s more, nearly 25 percent say they will delay starting a family, and 18 percent say they will delay getting married.

Such delays by the younger generation has started to affect household formation. Many young professionals are moving back in with their parents to curb costs, which has caused household to grow in recent years after facing decades of declines.

“The impact of the poor economy, in human terms, has been devastating. This is especially true for young Americans, whose lives have been interrupted and dreams put on hold due to the lack of economic opportunity,” says Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity.

Source: “Young Americans Waylaid by Recession, Study Shows,” Los Angeles Times (Aug. 5, 2011)

Read more:

What Does Gen Y Want?

  • AUGUST 5, 2011, 12:07 P.M. ET

 

Buyer’s Remorse? How to Undo Big-Ticket Buys

Market moves have consumers rethinking big-ticket purchases. How to back out without losing your shirt

 

 Uh-oh. Did you keep your receipt?

This week’s unnerving market moves haven’t just shaken everyday investors and portfolio hawks. They also have the potential to unsettle another important group: American consumers.

Analysts worry that the fresh wave of economic uncertainty could prompt consumers to postpone or cancel major purchases, whether a last-minute summer vacation, a car for a college student, or a bargain vacation home. Already made a recent big buy? That’s where buyers’ remorse could start kick in, analysts say, for every point the Dow falls.

For some consumers it already has. Some recent retailer surveys suggest that shoppers have been spending more time at the returns counter since the fourth quarter of 2008, says Deborah Mitchell, executive director for the Center of Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin School of Business. “After the purchase is made, they’re still thinking, ‘Should I have bought that,'” she says.

There are some options for nervous buyers who are still planning a big splurge — while wondering if the market is poised to fall further. Some industries have noticed, and are capitalizing on, the current wave of buyer’s remorse by offering pricey and profitable buyer protection plans. Below, a guide for consumers planning to buy and options for those who’ve already put down their plastic:

Big-ticket retail goods

When it comes to refunds, the big box stores tend to be fairly generous. Wal-Mart and Target, for example, accept returns for up to 90 days. But consumers may face restocking fees of up to 25% on items like electronics and appliances, special orders and boxes already opened, says Edgar Dworsky, found of advocacy site ConsumerWorld. And customized products, like furniture, may not be eligible for cancellation, he says.

Consumers who paid with a credit card might find a little extra leniency. Select cards, including many from American Express and Visa, include so-called return protection, which offers a refund of up to $250 on purchases made within 90 days (and which the retailer won’t take back). Not everything qualifies — the item must be in brand-new, working condition, for example — and issuers typically limit cardholders to $1,000-worth of claims per calendar year.

Another modest recourse: buy-back programs from stores like Best Buy, which offer a guaranteed sell-back rate for gadgets if you purchase the protection when you buy the item. They’re not a great deal in most situations, but might be the only option on a non-returnable product.

Cars

Once you’ve driven a new leased or purchased vehicle off the lot, your choices are limited, says Alec Gutierrez, the manager of vehicle valuation for Kelley Blue Book. Returns are typically permitted only if the car turns out to be a lemon. Barring that, what can you do? One option is to sell or lease the vehicle to someone else, though that may not be the best financial move, says Jesse Toprak, the vice president of industry trends and insights for TrueCar.com: “A lot of times, getting rid of a vehicle in a panic is a worse financial decision than keeping it.” Losses can easily total more than $1,000 once you factor in the car’s already depreciated value, title fees, taxes and any interest on a lease — often enough to offset the likely savings on a cheaper or more fuel-efficient vehicle.

Even would-be buyers having second thoughts aren’t completely off the hook. People on a waiting list or with a vehicle on order may lose some money if they change their minds, says Alec Gutierrez, since dealerships may declare the deposit (which can total as much as $500) nonrefundable. But at least you won’t be responsible for the rest. “Until you sign on the dotted line, take delivery of the vehicle and drive it off the lot, you are not obligated the buy that car,” he says.

Travel

The options for bailing on an upcoming trip vary dramatically, depending your departure date and travel provider, says Ed Perkins, a contributing editor for SmarterTravel.com. Some fare classes of airline tickets are refundable, but most people who buy tickets online end up with the cheapest options, which aren’t. The big U.S. carriers will allow you to use that ticket value toward another flight, plus a change fee of up to $150 on domestic flights, or up to $250 on international flights. (Southwest is the only airline that does not charge a change fee.)

Cruises may offer penalty-free cancellation depending on how far in advance of the departure date you’re cancelling. Princess Cruises, for example, lets you cancel at no charge up to 80 days before. At 79 to 60 days out, it will keep your deposit, and the fees continue to escalate from there. And on some lines, villas and specialty suites would require even greater notice to avoid penalties.

Hotels vary widely, Perkins says. Many allow penalty-free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance of the reservation, though others are non-refundable or keep the first night’s fee as a penalty but refund the rest.

Travel insurance, now pitched by everyone from tour operators to airline booking sites, is the surest bet for refunds — but only if travelers opt for a policy that allows them to cancel for any reason. Of course, this option isn’t cheap: they typically cost 35% to 50% more than a standard policy. And in some cases, the actual refund may be just 75% of the total cost, says Chris Buggy, director of marketing for Travelers Insurance Service.

Monthly commitments

Most states offer a three business-day right to cancel purchases like health clubs and dating services, says consumer advocate Dworsky. Some of these monthly services also offer money-back guarantees or free-trial periods, though experts warn that consumers who miss that trial period — sometime even for a single day — risk getting wrapped into a lengthy contract or membership.

Cancelling your monthly cell phone service could trigger an early termination fee of several hundred dollars; at AT&T, for example, that’s up to $325. But consumers who want to simply scale back cell (or cable) bills can typically downgrade their plans without a penalty.

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
LOADING…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • How to Pay for a Wedding

    With most couples waiting to marry and three quarters of marriage partners living together first, many celebrants are paying at least part of their wedding bill.

  • How to Teach Kids about Money

    It’s never too early to start talking dollars…and sense.

  • How to Manage Your Grocery Bill

    Your grocery bill is your biggest weekly household expense, so keeping a lid on it will go far to stretch your dollar.

 

How to Win Over Buyers

No matter how well educated your buyers are, they still need information on how a real estate transaction works. Use consultation appointments to inform them and become a trusted resource in the process.

May 2011 | By Rich Levin
 
Buyers are more educated in today’s market. They have more access to information regarding properties and their value. Plus there are practically unlimited real estate resources online for practitioners.

These combined factors should make the real estate professional’s job easier, but for many, they don’t. Why? There are two problems:

  • The information may not be accurate or relevant to a specific market.
  • The information is almost certainly incomplete.

“An Educated Consumer Is Our Best Customer”

Two adages speak to today’s buyer:

Whether the real estate pro finds buyers easier or more difficult to work with depends on whether that practitioner respects and completes the buyers’ education.

Have the buyers obtained a copy of the contract and paperwork online? Probably not, and most paperwork has many pages plus addenda. Do the buyers know what real estate trends apply to their market? Do they know what to do when the inspection reveals a problem?

Contracts, inspections, financing, negotiation — there are far too many steps in the transaction process for most buyers to pick up on their own.

A Simple and Powerful Process

The most successful buyer’s agents learn to ask a few simple questions (adjust to the circumstances of you and your buyer accordingly):

“The purchase documents in our area are six pages, plus disclosures and addenda. Has anyone given you a copy of the latest documents and reviewed with you the parts that are going to be relevant for your purchase? I find it helps a lot to be familiar with the documents so you aren’t seeing them for the first time when you’re making that $200,000 decision. Would you like to get a copy and take a look at those together?”

“There are inspectors, appraisers, attorneys, title companies, lenders, and real estate agents involved in the transaction. Would it be helpful to go through the process step-by-step so you know what to expect and get some idea of what might come up? It often reduces some pressure and allows you to enjoy the process with greater confidence. Would that be helpful to you?”

These simple questions lead buyers to make a consultation appointment, which can establish enormous confidence and trust in you, the agent. Buyers subsequently go along more easily with your recommendations through the negotiations, which actually can reduce the number of homes they need to view. They find the experience so valuable that they begin to refer you to friends and relatives.

At the consultation appointment, review each step of the process, educating and preparing buyers. Do they understand the type of financing they’re trying to get? Do they have any questions about it? Even if you don’t have the answers, you can take the lead getting a clarification and making sure buyers are aware of what’s included in their closing costs and their payments, and in reducing cash needed with seller contributions.

You also should explain what buyers can expect: Describe problems that could arise and how you’ve solved them and protected buyers’ interests in the past.

As you conduct these presentations, you’ll quickly discover two things: how much buyers don’t know — even the educated ones — and how much they misunderstand. As you realize the value and power of these consultations, you’ll learn to go into deep detail, continuously confirming buyers’ understanding.

Changing laws and financing situations — such as explaining short sales and foreclosure procedures — are just a few reasons that the time you spend preparing buyers works to everyone’s benefit.

Next Page »