3% down payment mortgage loans back

Minneapolis, MN:  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have recently announced they are bringing back 3% down payment options.ff

Currently, most conventional conforming loans require a minimum down payment of 5%, while FHA Loans still allows for just a 3.50% down payment.


FHA used to be the low down payment champion, but changes to the program made after the housing market meltdown have really taken a lot of steam out of the program.  The two biggest changes being the huge increase in the cost of FHA mortgage insurance, and that with a small down payment, the homeowner would have FHA mortgage insurance for the life of the loan!

If you have good credit, and could come up with a little more down payment, a conforming conventional loan would be much better.


There are many differences between the two programs.

FHA loans are more liberal in terms of lower credit scores, and weaker borrower profiles.  It also has a shorter waiting period after major negative events, like a foreclosure or bankruptcy. FHA interest rates are pretty much the same for everyone. But you pay for this with the high cost of mortgage insurance.

Conventional loans are almost always better if you have good credit scores, but can be nearly as costly for those with weaker credit. Conventional mortgage interest rates and mortgage insurance costs both climb significantly as your credit scores go down.


Understand, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac DO NOT DO LOANS. They buy loans from lenders after the fact. Therefore lenders can, and very often do, add additional rules and restrictions to the guidelines of what Fannie and Freddie say they will buy.  Always check with your mortgage lender for your specific qualifications:

Fannie Mae Rules:
 ⇒ Effective Date: December 13, 2014
⇒ One person must be a first time homebuyer
⇒ MyCommumity Mortgage Purchase Transactions — must undergo prepurchase housing counseling
⇒ Standard purchase and limited cash out refinances of existing Fannie Mae loans.
⇒ Fixed rate loans only — no adjustable
⇒ No high balance loans
Freddie Mac Rules:

⇒ Effective Date: March 23, 2015.
⇒ Called Home Possible Advantage Program
⇒ Manually underwritten mortgages–660 minimum score purchase/680 refinances with maximum 43% back ratio.
⇒ Owner occupied purchase and no cash out refinances.
⇒ Maximum income limitations for all mortgages.
⇒ Fixed rate loans only — no adjustable

FHA Loans versus Conventional Mortgage Loans

Many folks are confused when it comes to loan options. What type of loan, FHA Loan, VA Loan, or maybe a Conforming Conventional loan? What about fixed rates versus  adjustable loans?

worth_balanceHere are some important differences between FHA Loans and Conforming Conventional Loans (Meaning Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac)

Consider FHA:

1. FHA charges a 1.75% upfront fee known as MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium) (which is added to your loan balance)
2. FHA charges Monthly Mortgage Insurance of 1.35% annual (divided by 12 monthly payments) on a 30-yr loan with less than 10% down. To calculate it, take your loan amount times 1.35%, then divide by 12. This number is what is added to your loan payment
3. FHA Mortgage insurance can never be removed from the loan if you put down less than 10%.  This is change from the old rules as of 2013
4. FHA technically allows a credit score down to 580 with just 3.5% down, but most lender will require at least a 620 or higher score
5. With FHA, there is no real difference in the interest rate from borrowers with a low 640 score to borrowers with a 800 score.
6. While rates can change, currently FHA rates are usually a little lower than conforming mortgage rates.

Consider Conforming Conventional:

1. No upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium  charge
2. Monthly PMI is lower than FHA PMI.  The cost does vary by credit score and down payment. The more down payment, the cheaper the PMI.
3. PMI can be avoided when the borrower puts 20% or more as down payment
4. Conventional PMI can be asked to be removed at 80% loan-to-value. This can be a combination of paying down the loan, or increased value. PMI will automatically go away once your reach 78% loan-to-value though payments alone. You must have made at least 24 mortgage payments before this can happen.
6. Most conventional lenders require a 660 minimum credit score., and a few will go to as low as a 620 score
7. Conforming conventional loan interest rates vary greatly by credit score in 20 point increments. Someone with a 660 credit score could be paying as much as 1/2% higher interest rate than someone with a 760 credit score.

Although this quick summary shows some of the key differences between FHA and Conventional financing, there could be other considerations which will make one loan product more beneficial to you than the other..

It can be overwhelming.  That is why is is so important to deal with an experienced, and licensed mortgage professional – not just the unlicensed application taker at the bank or credit union.  Sadly, around 80% of  “Loan Officers” are mere application takers, with little to no qualifications to consult or properly advise a potential first time home buyer.  Be sure to only work with an actual licensed loan officer.

LEARN HOW to determine if your Loan Officer is Licensed, or simply an application clerk.


Fannie and Freddie Suspend evictions for Christmas

Minneapolis, MN:  Freddie and Fannie both announced that they will be suspending evictions nationwide between December 17, 2012 and January 2, 2013 on foreclosed occupied homes.

Such a joyous season…

This is in addition to the previous announcement suspending evictions in eligible major disaster areas caused by Hurricane Sandy which continue through February 2013.

Freddie’s announcement, which mirrors Fannie’s, says, “The two week holiday suspension will only apply to eviction lockouts on Freddie Mac-owned REO homes and will not affect other pre- or post-foreclosure processes. Although no evictions will take place, firms handling local evictions for Freddie Mac will continue to file documentation in preparation for evictions, scheduled after January 2, 2013.

HARP 2.0 is really HARP point NO for many people

HARP Refinance – The first few months

HARP 2.0 has been in place for awhile now, and although I have helped several people refinance their underwater loans with the HARP 2.0 loan program, it has actually been a bit disappointing. As typical with government programs, the reality of HARP 2.0 falls short of the perception.

When the program was announced back in October, 2011 it sounded like everyone – no matter what their loan to value or their income would be able to refinance at today’s low interest rates.

When the program moved full steam ahead in March, 2012, many people have been left on the sidelines wondering why they can not qualify, or why they have been denied. Many people with loan-to-values over 105% or with private mortgage insurance are finding their options even more limited.

Here is what I have learned about HARP 2.0 so far…

  • Freddie Mac. For a while it was almost impossible to get an “Approval” through Freddie Mac’s automated underwriting engine. They supposedly have tweaked their system, so if you have a Freddie Mac loan that was denied just weeks ago.  Try again.
  • Unlimited Loan To Value Guidelines – When the guidelines of HARP 2.0 were release last year, they announced that loan to value restrictions were being removed. Although this was the guidelines of the program, most of the large lenders are limiting the loan to value.
  • Appraisal Waivers – The appraisal waivers come from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Each have their own automated valuation systems that determine their estimated value of a property. If the automated system accepts your estimated value of the property, then no appraisal is needed. Keep in mind that not every HARP 2.0 refinance will qualify to have the appraisal waived, and that we are seeing very loan “automated” values.

To read more about the reality of HARP 2.0

Who owns my mortgage loan?

Who owns my loan?

Minneapolis, MN: Until recently, no one really needed to know, and no one really cared who ultimately owns their mortgage loan. Home owners receive their monthly statements, and make their monthly payments, to their mortgage company (or mortgage servicer).

With numerous program available to assist homeowners, including HARP 2, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which require the loan be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, it is very important to know who, and if they own your mortgage loan.

There are usually a few people involved in your loan process:

  • The Originator: The company who did the original loan. This could be a bank, broker, or direct mortgage company
  • The Servicer: The company now providing the statements and accepting the payments is only providing the service of billing, statements, customer service, etc. This company could also have been your originator.
  • The Investor:  This is usually not the company that provided the funds originally to make the loan, but a company that may hold your loan permanently, or sell it off to someone else, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Many times this company also becomes your loan servicer.
  • Actual Owner / End Owner: This could be a bank, mortgage company, or some kind of investor group. For a large number of homeowners, this is Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Who owns my mortgage loan? – Click to find out

 Click here for a HARP 2.0 Lender in MN and WI


HARP 2 not ready until March 15th – Why?

HARP 2 – Not ready until March 15th, 2012
Minneapolis, MN: There is a lot of consumers interested in a HARP refinance in MN and WI. The Home Affordable Refinance program allows home owners who have lost value to still refinance their homes are today’s low HARP  refinance rates.  HARP has been available since mid 2009.  HARP 2, which was announced in November 2011 removes some restrictions, and should help many more home owners refinance their home loans.

Officially, the the HARP 2 program started December 1. Unofficially, most lenders won’t be offering it until after March 15th, 2012. Let’s explore and understand why?

The original HARP program, which allows a home owner to be underwater on their home mortgage loan up to 125% loan-to-value is available today.

THE BIGGEST DELAY: Simple. Software. When a lender “underwrites” a loan, they actually do so through an AUS, which stands for Automated Underwriting Systems. The computer software evaluates the application, and gives an answer. The underwriter then verifies the computers decision. For example, the software may give a YES answer, then ask for pay stubs to verify income. The underwriters job is to then review the pay stubs to make sure the submitted income is the actual income.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need to reprogram their computers, and they’ve indicated this will become effective March 15th.

BENEFITS TO LENDERS OF AUS: Can a lender “manually” underwrite a file?  Sure, but the biggest benefit of submitting a file through the automated systems is all about liability. Contracts with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac protect a lender against liability for underwriting mistakes made by the lender of the original mortgage if the software said YES. Therefore smart lenders are not likely to take on the additional risk of a manual underwritten file.

THE RULES: Another major issue is simply getting the rules written, and distributed up and down all the lender channels. While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have indicated what their rules are, remember that they don’t actually lender to consumers. Lenders lend. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac simply buy loans from lenders. Therefore there is still a large amount of risk to lenders. Each individual lender needs to review new rules, consider the risk, decide if they even want to participate in the enhanced HARP 2 program, then write their rules and push them out to the Loan Officers on the street.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Look for most lenders to start pushing out HARP 2 Refinance rules about the middle of February 2012, but not actually doing them until after March 15th, 2012.  Furthermore, expect a huge rush of customer looking to take advantage of the program, creating massive delays with the banks.

Mortgage Interest Rates about to go up due to new HIDDEN tax

All home mortgage interest rates are about to go up due to new hidden tax congress buried into all new mortgage loans.

As part of the deal to extend a temporary reduction in payroll taxes, Congress last month approved a permanent increase in the fees borrowers pay on mortgages backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA.
The increase is an annual charge of at least 10 basis points – equal to one-tenth of one percent of the loan amount. That’s equal to an additional $300 a year on a $300,000 mortgage, or an additional $25 a month. The increase is proportional, so a borrower with a $150,000 mortgage would pay another $150 a year, one with a $400,000 loan would pay an additional $400, etc.        LOCK NOW

Watch the video from Frank and Brian to learn more, and be sure to COMPLAIN to Washington. Of course this is also a great time to mention the importance of who you select to be President…  DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Thanks Washington…  Nice move

Government to step in with new refinance options?

Minneapolis, MN: Many reports have surfaced recently that the government is seriously considering a wide range of ideas to assist consumers in refinancing their homes loans owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to take advantage of today’s amazing low interest rates. For a variety of reason, mostly to due to negative equity or current tighter credit underwriting guidelines, large numbers of these homeowners have been left to the sidelines.

As a Loan Officer, I have never fully understood some of the silliness in some underwriting guidelines, and have a few suggestions.

If Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (you and I since the government took the over during the peek of the credit crunch) already “own your loan”, you are current with your payments, and your basic financial position is OK, what does it matter if your home is underwater? They already own the the loan, and have all the risk. Wouldn’t lowering their payment reduce the risk and simply make sense?

While allowing these people to refinance, I would add one rule…  That being that you couldn’t “go backwards”. In other words, if the homeowner currently has a 30-yr fixed mortgage with 26-year remaining, they would not be allowed to have a new loan longer than 26-years.

While it is little know, and even less used as most people select a very traditional 15-yr, 20-yr, or 30-year mortgage, many mortgage lenders (including us) allow you to select any number of years you wish. If you want a 17-yr fixed, or the aforementioned 26-yr fixed, no problem. We can do that.

For FHA loan holders, a quick, immediate fix is possible to help those people refinance by simply changing a mortgage insurance rule. Allow people with existing FHA loans to refinance with their current mortgage insurance rate.

Everyday I speak with homeowners with FHA loans, where I could easily lower their interest rate by 1% – 1.5%, but it makes no financial sense for them to do it.

FHA loans all have mortgage insurance. Up until recently, the cost of the insurance, which is included in their monthly payment, was just 0.55% of their loan amount. A simple way to understand the cost, is on a $200,000 mortgage loan, the insurance costs $110 per month.

Last year, FHA increased the insurance to 1.15%. So on the same $200,000 loan, the monthly cost is now $230! YIKES. The higher insurance cost eats up most, if not all of their potential monthly savings, leaving many FHA homeowners unable to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates.


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Home lost value? Yes you can refinance

(edited: New rules took effect 10/24/2011 – Click here to view new rules)

HARP – Special Affordable Refinance Program

Has your home LOST VALUE?


The funds the Obama Administration has made available for this program come from YOUR tax dollars. Take advantage of this program while it is still available!

Do you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan and cannot refinance due to declining property values or a loss of income?

Would you like to reduce the cost of your monthly mortgage payments or move into a stable fixed rate mortgage? We may be able to assist through the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan.

A special HARP Affordable Program, which is designed to help up to 9 million American families refinance their loans to a payment that is affordable now, and into the future.

One of the initiatives in this program is aimed at helping responsible homeowners “refinance” their loans to take advantage of historically low interest rates.

Here are some common Questions and Answers about the Refinancing Initiative in the program.

Who is eligible?
You may be eligible, and we can assist you if:

  • You own and currently occupy a one- to four-unit home.
  • Your mortgage is owned or controlled by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • You are current on your mortgage payments.
  • The amount you owe on your first mortgage is about the same or slightly less than the current value of your house.
  • Your first mortgage is 105% or less
  • And, you have a stable income sufficient to support the new mortgage payments.

How do I know if my loan is owned or controlled by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?
Simply call or email me. I’ll help you determine if your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

If I am delinquent on my mortgage, do I still qualify for the Refinance Initiative?
No. But the good news is, you may qualify for the Modification Initiative. Contact the company you currently make payment at to discuss your situation and review your options.

I have both a first and a second mortgage. Do I still qualify to refinance under Making Home Affordable?
Maybe. As long as the amount due on the first mortgage is less than 125% of the value of the property, borrowers with more than one mortgage may be eligible for the Refinance Initiative.

Will refinancing lower my payments?
That depends. If your interest rate is much higher than the current market rate, you would likely see an immediate reduction in your payment amount.

However, lowering your monthly payments isn’t the only criteria to think about. If you have an adjustable mortgage (ARM) or are paying interest only on your mortgage, you may not see your payment go down. BUT… you will be able to avoid future mortgage payment increases and may save a great deal over the life of the loan.

What are the terms of the refinance and what will the interest rate be?
All loans refinanced under the plan will have a 30- or 15- year term with a fixed interest rate. The interest rate will be based on market rates at the time of the refinance. Currently, interest rates are at historical lows, which makes this a good time to examine your refinancing options.

Will refinancing reduce the amount that I owe on my loan?
No. Refinancing will not reduce the principal amount you owe. However, refinancing should save you money by reducing the amount of interest that you repay over the life of the loan.

Can I get cash out to pay other debts?
No. Only transaction costs, such as the cost of an appraisal or title report may be included in the refinanced amount.

How do I apply for the Special HARP Refinance Initiative in MN or WI?
Call 651-70-LOAN1 (651-705-6261) or E-mail us today to discuss your specific situation and to examine your options. If this plan is right for you, we can begin working on your refinance immediately. You can help us help you by filling out out ONLINE APPLICATION. Remember, we lend in MN and WI only.

As part of the discussion, we may need to look at the following information:

  • Recent pay stubs to help determine your gross (before tax) household income.
  • Your most recent income tax return.
  • Information about any second mortgage on your house.
  • Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on all of your credit cards.
  • Account balances and monthly payments on all other debts, such as student loans and car loans.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to discuss how this may specifically impact you, I’d be happy to sit down with you. Just call or E-Mail me to set up an appointment.

If you are a homeowner who is current on your mortgage payments but unable to refinance to a lower interest rate because your home value has decreased, you may be able to refinance.

Do I qualify for an Affordable Refinance? Answer these questions:

  • Is your home your primary residence?
  • Do you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If you don’t know contact:
  • Are you current on your mortgage payments?
    • “Current” means that you haven’t been more than 30-days late on your mortgage payment in the last 12 months.
  • Do you believe that the amount you owe on your first mortgage is about the same or less than the current value of your house?

New Appraisal Rules starting in Sept 2011

Appraisals are changing again.

Fannie Mae and and Freddie Mae have decided to change the way appraisers describe the quality and condition of homes.

Appraisers have always described properties as being: Good, Average, Fair or Poor – sometimes adding “very good” or “excellent” or fudging with “low-average” or “average-” – knowing that a lower condition or quality review of the home as fair or poor – you probably killed the deal.

Going forward, appraisers will need to define condition on a C1 – to – C6 scale and quality on a Q1 to Q6 scale.  1 is considered the best – for condition a new or unlived in dwelling.  A C6 condition is a property with substantial damage or other major maintenance issues.

For views, appraisers will need to use the following codes: A, B or N — what do they mean: A = adverse (hurts value or marketability); B = Beneficial (that’s good) and N = Neutral.  and if it is a view lot – how about B;MTn;Wtr — what?  Are you confused yet?

Now if you have 2 and 1/2 baths the correct way to show the count will be 2.1 and if the house has 2 1/2 baths = 2.2

For Kitchens and baths we will need to report if they have been “updated” “not updated” or “remodeled” and if the work was done in less than 1-year; 1-5 years, 6-10 years, 11-15 years ago or unknown.  An updated bath might have a new toilet, and remodeled bath an all new shower.

The change is designed to give more specific information. By using numbers, and not wiggle words like “average”, will help in underwriting loans.

The worse news is, homes rated Q5 and Q6 will NOT be allowed to be sold on the secondary market.  So if an appraisal comes back as a Q5 or Q6 (something few of us will know in advance), the loan likely will be denied by your lender.