Can you use a 203k loan for an investment property?

203k loans for investors: A special use case

The FHA 203k rehab loan can be an affordable way to buy or refinance a home and refurbish it with a single loan. 

This might make the 203k loan attractive to investors and fix-and-flippers. But there’s a catch.

These mortgages are limited to ‘primary residences,’ meaning the borrower has to live in the home full time. So they’ll only work for specific types of investment properties. 

But there are ways to legally and ethically use a 203k loan for rentals and investments. Here’s how.

Verify your 203k loan eligibility (Feb 23rd, 2021)


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FHA 203k loan for investment properties

There’s only one legitimate way to use a 203k loan for an investment property. You can buy and renovate — or construct or convert — a multifamily (2-4 unit) building and live in one of the units.

FHA allows borrowers to purchase 2-, 3-, and 4-unit properties and renovate them using the 203k loan.

To fulfill FHA’s residency condition, you’ll need to occupy one of the units yourself as your primary residence for at least 12 months.

You can rent out the other unit(s), and even use the rental income to cover your monthly mortgage payments.

Benefits of the FHA 203k loan for investors

While this might not be your first idea of an investment property, it can be a foot in the door for first-time investors who want to test out owning and renting properties.

It’s also worth noting that since you’d be buying the property as a primary residence, you get access to lower interest rates.

This means you’d have lower monthly payments and pay less interest overall compared to someone with a ‘true’ investment property mortgage.

Drawbacks

The main downside to this strategy is that you yourself need to occupy one of the units for at least one year.

After 12 months, you could rent out the unit that you live in and move on to purchase other real estate.

But FHA is not for serial investors. Once you use one FHA loan, you likely can’t get another one. You’ll have to secure other financing if you move out and buy again.

Also, keep in mind that you will be living side by side with your future tenants for those 12 months — some may consider this a downside while others won’t mind.

Another downside: FHA loans come with pricey mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) which borrowers are normally stuck with until they sell or refinance into a different loan program.

So there’s a lot to consider before going the 203k investment property route.

But for the right borrower, this could be a great strategy to finance and renovate their own home and a few rental units at the same time.

Verify your 203k loan eligibility (Feb 23rd, 2021)

Can I use a 203k loan if I already own the home?

If you already bought your home, you can use a 203k rehab loan to refinance your current mortgage. This opens up another back door for investors.

You could potentially use the 203k loan to refinance your current home, make renovations, then move after one year and rent the house out as an investment property.

FHA allows you to rent out a home you still own with an FHA loan, as long as:

  • You fulfilled the one-year occupancy requirement
  • You moved for a legitimate reason, like a work relocation or upsizing to a bigger house for a growing family

This would only work for refinancing a home you currently live in and plan to keep occupying for at least a year after the loan closes.

If you already moved and kept your previous home as a rental property, you would not be able to use the 203k rehab loan since the home is no longer your primary residence.

How does the lender know if it’s my primary residence?

Some people make good livings by buying fixer-uppers and then selling them after rehab — aka “flipping” them.

A few might be tempted to take advantage of the 203k program by lying about their intention to live in the home. After all, how can the FHA prove in court what your intentions were when you made the application?

The main argument against this strategy is that lying on a mortgage application can be a felony that could see you in federal court.

Even an email to a contractor mentioning that you don’t intend to live there or other indication of your plans could show up in the court case.

And, repeat FHA buying would not be a viable long-term strategy.

FHA only allows borrowers to have one active FHA loan at a time, except in rare circumstances (for instance, if your work required you to relocate and you needed to buy another home near your new job).

In other words, borrowers cannot move once a year and continue financing new homes with FHA loans.

If you see yourself as an entrepreneur with a rosy future in real estate investing, set yourself up for success by choosing a legitimate financing option that keeps your options open in the long run.

Check your investment property loan options (Feb 23rd, 2021)

About the FHA 203k rehab loan

The 203k rehabilitation loan is backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This mortgage program lets you buy a rundown home — a fixer-upper — and then renovate it using a single loan that covers the purchase price and cost of repairs.

If that involves demolishing the existing structure down to the foundations and rebuilding, that’s fine under 203k loan rules, too.

203k renovation loans are only for necessary repairs to improve the structure or livability of the home. So the funds can’t be used to add luxuries like tennis courts or swimming pools.

And there’s one more important rule: You cannot do the construction or remodeling work yourself. The 203k loan requires you to hire a reputable, licensed contractor, unless you are one yourself and you work full-time as a contractor.

Limited vs. Standard 203k mortgage

There are two flavors of the 203k program: the “Limited 203k mortgage” and the “Standard 203k.”

The Limited 203k used to be called the “Streamline 203k.” As its new name implies, this version is more restrictive about the amount you can spend and the types of work you can do. But it’s also less complicated, hence its former “streamline” moniker.

The maximum repair budget for a Limited 203k loan is around $31,000 ($35,000 officially, but there are mandatory reserve accounts that eat into that sum). And you can’t make any structural renovations to the home.

On the plus side, these loans require much less paperwork and hassle.

The Limited 203k loan is typically best for current homeowners who want to make cosmetic repairs or renovations. It works a bit like a cash-out refinance, except you must spend the money on the home improvements you’ve listed.

A “Standard 203k loan,” by contrast, allows much higher budgets and would be better for home buyers purchasing serious fixer-uppers that need structural repairs.

FHA loan requirements

The basic requirements for 203k loans are similar to those for other FHA mortgages:

  • A 3.5% down payment — Based on your purchase price and rehab budget combined, subject to an independent appraisal
  • Minimum 580 credit score — It may be possible to dip below 580 if you have a 10% or higher down payment
  • Debt-to-income ratio of 43% or less — No more than 43% of your gross monthly income can normally be eaten up by housing costs, existing debt payments, and other inescapable monthly obligations such as child support

Although the FHA sets these minimum requirements, you’ll be borrowing from a private lender. And they’re free to impose their own standards.

For example, some mortgage lenders require a credit score of 620 or 640 for an FHA loan. If one lender has set the bar too high for you, shop around for other, more lenient ones.

Verify your FHA 203k loan eligibility (Feb 23rd, 2021)

What repairs can you do with a 203k loan?

The FHA is putting up taxpayers’ money to guarantee part of your mortgage. So it’s not in the business of writing loans for luxury upgrades.

There are strict rules about the types of home renovations you can do and the amount of money you can borrow.

In fact, the total amount you can borrow for your home purchase and renovation costs is governed by current FHA loan limits, which vary depending on local home prices.

You can find the loan limit where you wish to buy using this lookup tool.

Maximum rehabilitation loan budgets

We already mentioned that a Limited 203k loan gives you a cap of around $31,000 on your rehab budget.

A Standard 203k lets you have as big a rehab budget as you want, capped only by your local loan limit minus the home’s purchase price.

Your total loan amount can be up to 110% of the property’s future value when complete.

But an appraiser will pore over your plans to make sure the final value of the home — after your projects are completed — will match the amount FHA is lending you.

What you can spend your rehab budget on

The Limited 203k is mostly intended for refreshing a home that’s a bit tired. So you can do things like:

  • Replacing flooring and carpeting
  • Installing or replacing an HVAC system
  • Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom
  • Fixing anything that’s unsafe
  • Making the home more energy-efficient

But you can’t use the money to do structural work, such as moving loadbearing walls or adding rooms.

The Standard 203k is very different.

You can do all the above and almost everything else, including serious construction work. Heck, you can even move the house to a different site if you get the FHA to approve your plans.

The 203k loan process

Limited 203k loans are pretty straightforward. Indeed, they’re easier than most to qualify for and set up.

But a Standard 203k isn’t like that. It may be your best path to your dream home. But there will be some extra hoops to jump through compared to a traditional mortgage.

Here’s the basic process to apply for and close an FHA 203k loan.

  1. Find your best lender — You can save thousands just by comparison shopping among multiple lenders. They aren’t all the same! Make sure the ones you consider offer FHA 203k loans and are experienced in delivering them. You’ll want a lender familiar with the specifics of 203k loans to make sure the process goes smoothly
  2. Get pre-approved — Pre-approval shows you your exact budget as well as your future interest rate. And you’ll get a chance to resolve any issues that arise in your application
  3. Find the home you want — This is the fun bit. But download the Maximum Mortgage Worksheet PDF from HUD’s website because that will help you assess whether your plans are affordable
  4. Find a 203k consultant — A 203k loan consultant will visit the home site, inspect the building, and then prepare a document outlining the project’s scope and specifications, along with a detailed cost breakdown for each of the repair tasks. He or she also prepares lender packages and contractor bid packages, along with draw request forms for stage payments
  5. Find a licensed contractor — Some lenders maintain lists of approved contractors. And your consultant may help you find a reputable one. Make sure candidates have proven records for projects similar to yours and are familiar with FHA 203k jobs. Many contractors add serious delays to 203k approval because they can’t seem to complete the paperwork correctly
  6. Have the home and project appraised — The lender will set this up for you
  7. Begin work — Once the appraisal is approved, the lender should let you close. And your contractor can then begin work, drawing on funds in an escrow account

Limited 203k loans require the borrower to live in the home while repairs are completed. So if it’s a new home purchase, you’ll have to move in within 60 days, which is the norm for FHA loans.

Standard 203k loans, on the other hand, might include structural repairs that render the home unlivable while construction is going on. In this case, the home buyer is not required to move in right away.

Rehab loan alternatives for investment properties

FHA 203k loans aren’t the only way to buy and renovate a home with one loan. Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Renovation and Freddie Mac’s CHOICERenovation products can do much the same thing.

Since the HomeStyle and CHOICERenovation loans are conventional mortgage loans, they won’t charge for private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you put at least 20% down. This can save home buyers a lot of money on their monthly mortgage payments.

However, like the 203k loan, these programs are only available for primary residences.

If you’re buying a ‘true’ investment property — meaning you won’t live in one of the units yourself — these loans aren’t an option.

But investors have other renovation loans to choose from.

Traditionally, you would buy a home with a mortgage and then borrow separately — perhaps with a home equity line of credit or home equity loan — to make improvements. Then you could potentially refinance both loans into one later on.

Another option is using a cash-out refinance on your investment property or primary residence and putting the cashed-out funds toward repairs or upgrades.

Of course, all these types of loans require you to have enough equity built up to cover the cost of repairs.

And if you choose to draw from the equity in an existing investment property, you’ll pay higher interest rates.

But the upside is that there are no rules about how the funds can be spent. So if luxury upgrades are on your agenda, this could be the way to go.

Explore all your options

FHA 203k loans are only available to a select group of investors: Those who will buy a multi-unit property and live in one unit themselves.

For real estate investors looking to fix-and-flip or build a large portfolio of investment properties, an FHA loan isn’t the right answer. But there are plenty of other financing options out there.

Be sure to explore all your loan options before buying or renovating a home. Choosing the right program and lender can help you achieve your goals and save money on your project.

Verify your new rate (Feb 23rd, 2021)

Compare top lenders

Source: themortgagereports.com

HUD issues relief on foreclosures for Texans after storm

Texas residents and businesses have two extra months to file and pay their federal taxes, and Texans will also get some housing-related assistance after severe winter storms this month left millions without power and running water.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages. The HUD said that it will extend mortgage insurance to homeowners whose properties have been destroyed. The mortgage insurance expansion can be used to purchase a new home or renovate a damaged one.

The Internal Revenue Service also said on Monday that Texans have until June 15 to file federal returns and pay any taxes owed, tapping its authority to delay deadlines for disaster victims. Any tax forms due in the lead up to the June 15 deadline will be delayed until the new deadline.

Winter storms and record-breaking freezing temperatures hit nearly the entirety of Texas earlier this month. Millions lost power, and then water, as pipes froze and water pressure dropped. Power began resuming late last week and over the weekend, though millions are still without safe drinking water.

Source: nationalmortgagenews.com

HUD Nominee Vows to Protect Homeowners Who’ve Fallen Behind

President Joe Biden’s housing secretary nominee, Marcia Fudge, has told senators that her first priority if confirmed would be to defend the millions who have missed mortgage or rent payments because of lost earnings since COVID-19. So reports the Associated Press.

Speaking remotely from Cleveland, Fudge said she would take “extraordinary actions” to avert the loss of homes due to the pandemic.

Fudge also called homeownership a “ticket to the middle class” and signaled support for federal aid to broaden minority homeownership.

Read the full article from the Associated Press.

Source: themortgageleader.com

Biden Administration Extends Mortgage Forbearance Again

President Joe Biden has moved to prolong mortgage forbearance for another six months and extend the foreclosure moratorium until June 30. So reports CNBC.

The steps by the Federal Housing Agency will affect 70% of existing single-family home mortgages, according to the White House.

“The steps we are taking today will provide both immediate relief to those in desperate need of assistance and help more homeowners keep their homes and resume their payments when the pandemic subsides,” Matthew Ammon, acting secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development, said in a press release.

Read the full article from CNBC. 

Source: themortgageleader.com

HUD extends COVID-19 forbearance for FHA loans

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Tuesday extended COVID-19 foreclosure and forbearance moratoriums for FHA and USDA loans to June 30, 2021. It also extended the deadline for the first legal action and the reasonable diligence time frame to 180 days.

This announcement follows FHFA action last week to extend moratoriums for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The measures announced by HUD today include:

  • Extending the timeframe for homeowners to request the start of a COVID-19 forbearance from their mortgage servicer through June 30, 2021.
  • Expanding the COVID-19 forbearance to allow up to two forbearance extensions of up to three months each for homeowners who requested a COVID-19 forbearance on or before June 30, 2020. These extensions are designed to provide relief to homeowners who will be nearing the end of their maximum 12-month forbearance period and have not yet stabilized their financial situation.
  • Expanding the use of FHA’s streamlined COVID-19 loss mitigation home retention and home disposition options to all homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments by at least 90 days. This expansion will require mortgage servicers to assess more homeowners for a streamlined waterfall of loss mitigation home retention options, starting with FHA’s COVID-19 Standalone Partial Claim.

Mortgage servicers take steps to support borrowers amid COVID-19

As call volumes have spiked to a level not seen since last April, lenders and servicers need to prepare for a significant increase in their workload as they help borrowers through difficult times.

Presented by: Computershare Loan Services

“As President Biden has made clear, it is urgent that we help homeowners throughout the nation who are struggling financially from this unprecedented national emergency,” said Acting HUD Secretary Matthew Ammon. “The steps we are taking today will provide both immediate relief to those in desperate need of assistance and help more homeowners keep their homes and resume their payments when the pandemic subsides.”

Last week, the FHFA announced that borrowers with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may be eligible for an additional forbearance extension of up to three months. FHFA forbearance plans initially had a 12 month expiration date, however, the government entity is now allowing borrowers up to 15 months of coverage.

According to the agency, eligibility for the extension is limited to borrowers who are on a COVID-19 forbearance plan as of Feb. 28, 2021. The FHFA said other limits may apply to the extension but did not provide specific detail.

Source: housingwire.com

What is mortgage loan modification, and is it a good idea?

Trouble paying your mortgage? You have options

You might be wondering about mortgage loan modification if you’re:

  • Experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus
  • Having trouble making your monthly mortgage payments
  • Currently in mortgage forbearance but worried about what will happen when forbearance ends

The good news is, help is available. But mortgage relief options are not one-size-fits-all.

Depending on your circumstances, you might be eligible for a loan modification. Or, you might be able to pursue another avenue like a refinance. Here’s what you should know about your options.

Check your refinance eligibility (Feb 17th, 2021)


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What is loan modification?

Loan modification is when a lender agrees to alter the terms of a homeowner’s mortgage to help them avoid default and keep their house during times of financial hardship.

The goal of a mortgage loan modification is to reduce the borrower’s payments so they can afford their loan month-to-month. This is typically done by lowering the mortgage rate or extending the loan’s repayment term.

“A mortgage loan modification does not replace your existing home loan or your lender,” explains Karen Condor, a finance and insurance expert with Loans.org.

“However, it restructures your loan in the interest of making it more manageable when you experience difficulties in making your mortgage payments.”

How mortgage loan modification works

With a loan modification, the total principal amount you owe won’t change.

“But the lender may agree to a lower interest rate, reduced loan length, or a longer payoff period,” says Elizabeth Whitman, attorney and managing member of Whitman Legal Solutions, LLC.

Any of these strategies could help reduce your monthly mortgage payments and/or the total amount of interest you pay in the long run.

Modification can also include switching from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage and rolling late fees into your principal, adds Condor.

Note, loan modification is intended to make a mortgage more affordable month-to-month. But it often involves extending the loan term or adding missed payments back into the loan — which may increase the total amount of interest paid.

Refinancing into a new loan, on the other hand, often reduces the monthly payment and the total interest cost.

Loan modification vs. refinance

A refinance is typically the first plan of action for homeowners who need a lower mortgage payment.

Refinancing can replace your original loan with a new one that has a lower interest rate and/or a longer term. This may offer a permanent reduction in mortgage loan payments without negatively affecting your credit.

However, borrowers going through financial hardship might not be able to refinance.

They may have trouble qualifying for the new loan due to a reduced income, lower credit score, or unexpected debts (such as medical expenses).

In these cases, the homeowner might be eligible for a mortgage loan modification.

Loan modification is usually reserved for homeowners who are not eligible to refinance due to a financial hardship.

Mortgage modification is usually reserved for borrowers who do not qualify for a refinance and have exhausted other possible mortgage relief options.

“With a loan modification, you work with your existing bank or lender on modifying the terms of your existing mortgage,” explains David Merritt, a consumer finance litigation attorney with Bernkopf Goodman, LLP.

“If you’ve defaulted on your existing mortgage, chances are your credit has been negatively impacted to the point where a new lender would be wary to give you a new loan.”

“Typically a refinance is not possible in this situation,” says Merritt.

That means there’s no real contest between loan modification vs. refinancing. The right option for you will depend on the status of your current loan, your personal finances, and what your mortgage lender agrees to.

Check your refinance eligibility (Feb 17th, 2021)

Loan modification vs. forbearance

Forbearance is another way servicers can help borrowers during times of financial stress.

Loan forbearance is a temporary plan that pauses mortgage payments while a homeowner gets back on their feet.

For example, many homeowners who lost their jobs or had reduced income were able to request forbearance for up to a year or more during the COVID pandemic.

Unlike forbearance, mortgage loan modification is a permanent plan that changes the rate or terms of a home loan.

Forbearance and loan modification can sometimes be combined to make a more effective mortgage relief plan.

For instance, a homeowner whose income is still reduced at the end of their forbearance period may be approved for a permanent loan modification.

Or, a homeowner approved for mortgage modification may also have part of their unpaid principal forborne (put off) until the end of the repayment period.

Who is eligible for a loan modification?

To qualify for a loan modification, a borrower usually must have missed at least 3 mortgage payments and be in default.

“Sometimes, a borrower who has experienced financial setbacks, which makes a default imminent, can qualify for a loan modification. But not everyone in default under their mortgage is eligible for a loan modification,” explains Whitman.

“Borrowers whose financial setback is so severe that they will never be able to repay their mortgage won’t receive a modification, nor will borrowers who have the ability to make mortgage payments either from their income or savings.”

“Borrowers whose financial setback is so severe that they will never be able to repay their mortgage won’t receive a modification” –Elizabeth Whitman, attorney & managing member, Whitman Legal Solutions, LLC

In addition to providing a hardship letter or statement, prepare to provide proof of income, two years’ worth of tax returns, and bank/financial statements, says Condor.

Be aware, however, that your lender is not obligated to provide a loan modification.

“Once a lender has an executed contract — meaning the loan — they don’t have to change it. Many [homeowners] are denied a mortgage loan modification,” Gallagher explains.

“If the lender desires to modify the terms, per your request, then you have a starting point.”

How to request a loan modification

The process for requesting a loan modification will vary depending on who manages your loan.

The first thing you need to do is contact your loan servicer. This is the company to which you send payments, and the one you need to work with to determine your options for loan modification.

Some mortgages are managed, or “serviced” by the original lender. But most home loans are serviced by a separate company.

For instance, you may have received the loan from Wells Fargo, but now make payments to U.S. Bank.

The loan servicer is the company that takes your monthly mortgage payments; you can find yours by checking the name and contact information on your latest mortgage statement.

Many borrowers begin the process by sending a ‘hardship letter’ to their servicer or lender. A hardship letter is simply a note that describes the borrower’s financial difficulties and explains why they can’t make payments.

The lender will likely request financial information and documentation, including bank statements, pay stubs, and proof of your assets.

These documents will help your lender understand the full scope of your personal finances and determine the correct path for mortgage relief.

Mortgage loan modification programs

Your loan modification options will depend on the type of loan you have and what your lender or loan servicer agrees to.

Conventional loan modification

“Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and private lenders of conventional loans have their own modification programs and guidelines,” says Charles Gallagher, a real estate attorney.

In particular, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae offer Flex Modification programs designed to decrease a qualified borrower’s mortgage payment by about 20%.

Flex Modification typically involves adjusting the interest rate, forbearing a portion of the principal balance, or extending the loan’s term to make monthly payments more affordable for the homeowner.

To be eligible for a Flex Modification program, the homeowner must have:

  • At least 3 monthly payments past due on a primary residence, second home, or investment property
  • Or; less than 3 monthly payments past due but the loan is in “imminent default,” meaning the lender has determined the loan will definitely default without modification. This is only an option for primary residences

Certain hardships can trigger “imminent default” status; for instance, the death of a primary wage earner in the household, or serious illness or disability of the borrower.

Unemployment is typically not an eligible reason for Flex Modification.

Borrowers who are unemployed are more likely to be placed in a temporary forbearance plan — which pauses payments for a set period of time, but does not permanently change the loan’s term or interest rate.

In addition, government-backed FHA, VA, and USDA loans are not eligible for Flex Modification programs.

FHA loan modification

The Federal Housing Administration offers its own loan modification options to make payments more manageable for delinquent borrowers.

Depending on your situation, FHA loan modification options may include:

  • Lowering the interest rate
  • Extending the loan term
  • Rolling unpaid principal, interest, or loan costs back into the loan’s balance
  • Re-amortizing the mortgage to help the borrower make up missed payments

In some cases where extra assistance is needed, FHA borrowers may be eligible for the FHA-Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP).

FHA-HAMP allows the lender to defer missed mortgage payments to bring the homeowner’s loan current. It can then request that HUD (FHA’s overseer) further reduce the monthly payment by opening an interest-free subordinate loan of up to 30% of the remaining loan balance. The borrower only pays principal and interest based on 70% of the balance, and can pay back the remainder upon a sale or refinance of the home.

Deferring this extra principal amount can help make it easier for FHA borrowers to get back on track with their loans.

FHA-HAMP is typically combined with one of the loan modification methods above to lower the borrower’s monthly payment.

Eligible FHA borrowers must complete a trial repayment plan to qualify for either loan modification or the FHA-HAMP program. This involves making on-time payments in the modified amount for 3 months straight.

VA loan modification

Veterans and service members with loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs can ask their servicer about VA loan modification.

VA loan modification can roll missed payments back into the loan balance, as well as other delinquent homeownership costs like unpaid property taxes and homeowners insurance.

After these costs are added to the loan, the borrower and servicer work together to establish a new repayment schedule that will be manageable for the veteran.

Note, VA modification is unique in that the interest rate might actually increase. So while this plan can help veterans bring their loans current, it won’t always reduce the homeowner’s monthly payments.

“For VA loan modification, several requirements apply,” notes Condor. She explains:

  • “Your VA loan must in default
  • You must have since recovered from the temporary hardship that caused the default
  • You must be able to support the financial obligations of the modified VA loan
  • And you must not have modified your VA loan in the past three years”

Some homeowners with VA loans may qualify for a ‘Streamline Modification.’

Streamline Modification does not require as much documentation as the traditional VA modification plan, but includes two extra requirements:

  • The combined principal and interest payment must drop by at least 10%
  • The borrower must complete a 3-month trial repayment plan to prove they can make the modified payments

Talk to your loan servicer about options for your VA loan.

USDA loan modification

USDA loan modification is for homeowners whose current loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A USDA loan modification allows missing mortgage payments (including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) to be rolled back into the loan balance.

USDA modification plans also allow a term extension up to 480 months, or 40 years total, to help reduce the borrower’s payments. And the servicer can lower the borrower’s interest rate, “even below the market rate if necessary,” according to USDA.

Servicers may cover up to 30 percent of the homeowner’s unpaid principal balance using a mortgage recovery advance.

Contact your loan servicer to find out whether you’re eligible for a USDA loan modification.

Is mortgage loan modification a good idea?

A mortgage loan modification is worth pursuing for the right candidates.

“A modification can give you a second bite at the apple and get you out of the default or foreclosure process, allowing you a chance to remain in your home,” says Merritt.

But caveats apply.

“Typically, a modification will take all of your missed payments and add those to the outstanding principal balance,” Merritt says.

Say your current mortgage has an outstanding balance of $300,000. Assume you missed $50,000 in payments. In this example, your modified balance would be $350,000, which is called ‘capitalization.’

“But imagine your home’s value is only $310,000,” adds Merritt. “Here, a modification would allow you to stay in your home and avoid foreclosure, but you would owe more than your house is worth. That would be a problem if, say, two years after modification you wanted to sell your home.”

Refinancing and other alternatives to modification

Loan modification isn’t your only option, thankfully.

Possible alternatives include refinancing, forbearance, a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Refinancing

As mentioned above, you should first check if you’re eligible to lower your interest rate and payment with a mortgage refinance.

You’ll have to qualify for the new mortgage based on your:

  • Credit score and credit report
  • Debt-to-income ratio
  • Loan-to-value ratio (your loan balance versus the home’s value)
  • Income and employment

It may be difficult to qualify for a refinance during times of financial hardship. But before writing this strategy off, check all the loan options available.

For instance, FHA loans have lower credit score requirements and allow higher debt-to-income (DTI) ratios than conventional loans. So it may be easier to refinance into an FHA loan than a conventional one.

Streamline refinancing

Homeowners with FHA, VA, and USDA loans have an additional option in the form of Streamline Refinancing.

A Streamline Refinance typically does not require income or employment verification, or a new home appraisal. Even the credit check might be waived (though the lender will always verify you have been making mortgage payments on time).

These loans are a lot more forgiving for homeowners whose finances have taken a downturn.

Note, Streamline Refinancing is only allowed within the same loan program: FHA-to-FHA, VA-to-VA, or USDA-to-USDA.

Check your Streamline Refi eligibility (Feb 17th, 2021)

Other mortgage relief options

Refinancing typically requires a loan-to-value ratio of 97% or lower, meaning the homeowner has at least 3% equity.

However, “borrowers who have less than 3 percent equity in their homes may qualify for Fannie Mae’s HIRO program,” suggests Whitman.

This ‘High-LTV Refinance Option‘ is intended for homeowners with Fannie Mae-backed loans who owe more on their mortgage than the property is worth.

“Other choices for borrowers with little or no equity in their homes include a consensual foreclosure or a short sale, which involves selling the property for less than the outstanding mortgage amount.”

What should you do?

Whitman continues, “Any borrower who will struggle to repay their mortgage and other debts after a loan modification should consider whether it is better to dispose of their home and find a more affordable housing option.”

To better determine if a refinance or mortgage loan modification is the right strategy for you, consult with your loan servicer, an attorney, or a housing counselor.

Mortgage loan modification FAQ

What happens when you get a loan modification?

The goal of a loan modification is to help a homeowner catch up on missed mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure. If your servicer or lender agrees to a mortgage loan modification, it may result in lowering your monthly payment, extending or shortening your loan’s term, or decreasing the interest rate you pay.

How do I get a mortgage loan modification?

Contact your mortgage servicer or lender immediately to alert them of your financial hardship and ask about loan modification options available. Be ready to provide all documentation requested, which can include financial statements, pay stubs, tax returns, and more.

How long does loan modification last?

Expect your loan modification process to take anywhere from one to three months, according to finance and insurance expert Karen Condor. Once your loan modification has been approved, the changes to your interest rate and/or loan terms are permanent.

Does loan modification hurt your credit?

A mortgage loan modification under certain government programs will not affect your credit. “But other loan modifications may negatively impact your credit and show up on your credit report. However, since your mortgage usually must be in default to request a modification, your financial difficulties are probably already on your credit report,” explains attorney Elizabeth Whitman.

Can you be denied a loan modification?

Yes. A mortgage loan is a contract, and the mortgage lender isn’t obligated to agree to a loan modification. “Borrowers whose financial situation is such that they will never be able to repay their mortgage loan, as well as borrowers who do not cooperate with lender requests, are likely to be denied a modification,” says Whitman.

How much does mortgage modification cost?

While there are no closing costs for a mortgage modification, your lender may charge a processing fee. “If your modification involves extending your loan’s term, that means you’ll pay more interest over the life of your loan,” explains attorney Charles Gallagher.

Do you have to pay back a loan modification?

Paying back a loan modification will depend on the type of modification you are given. “Your lender can apply a reduced interest amount to your loan’s principal on the backend that you must later pay back,” says Condor. “With a principal deferral loan modification, your lender reduces the amount of principal paid off with each payment. But the amount of principal your lender deferred will be due when your loan matures or the home is sold.”

Understand your options

Mortgage loan modification is typically reserved for homeowners who are already delinquent on their loans.

If you’re worried about mortgage payments, get ahead of the issue by checking your eligibility for a refinance or contacting your loan servicer about options before your loan becomes delinquent.

Many homeowners are facing financial hardship right now, and many lenders and loan servicers are willing to help. But help is only available to those who ask for it.

Verify your new rate (Feb 17th, 2021)

Source: themortgagereports.com

The Fair Housing Act now applies to LGBTQ renters and home buyers. Here’s what changed

HUD is expanding the Fair Housing Act

Trans and other members of the LGBTQ community are now protected under the Fair Housing Act, according to an announcement from the Department of Housing and Urban Development late last week.

The agency will now investigate complaints of housing discrimination relating to sexual orientation and gender identity — two classes not previously protected under the law. 

This is a critical change; HUD has recognized the history of housing discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and is offering legal protection to those affected for the first time.

Verify your home buying eligibility (Feb 16th, 2021)

LGBTQ housing discrimination: An “urgent” issue

“Housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity demands urgent enforcement action,” said Jeanine M. Worden, the acting assistant secretary of HUD’s Fair Housing office.

“That is why HUD, under the Biden Administration, will fully enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Worden continues, “Every person should be able to secure a roof over their head free from discrimination, and the action we are taking today will move us closer to that goal.”

This change is in line with the Biden Administration’s goals to reduce discrimination in housing, and to make renting and home buying more accessible and affordable.

What are Fair Housing protections?

The Fair Housing Act — technically Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 — protects Americans from discrimination when:

  • Renting or buying a property
  • Applying for a mortgage
  • Seeking housing assistance
  • Participating in any other housing-related activity

Seven classes are explicitly protected in the Act, including race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, disability and sex. 

Prior to HUD’s latest announcement, “sex” had meant biological sex.

Now, under the new expansions, the Fair Housing Act also protects against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation as well.

How this change helps LGBTQ renters and homebuyers

Thanks to the changes, LGBTQ Americans can now file complaints with HUD if they feel they’re discriminated against at any point while seeking housing.

This could include discrimination by a real estate agent, mortgage professional, rental property owner, apartment manager, or anyone else involved in the housing process.

HUD offers two examples of what LGBTQ housing discrimination might look like:

  • “A transgender woman is asked by the owner of her apartment building not to dress in women’s clothing in the common areas of the property.”
  • “A gay man is evicted because his landlord believes he will infect other tenants with HIV/AIDS.”

If you’ve experienced these or any other types of housing discrimination because of your gender identity or sexual orientation, file a complaint at HUD.gov/FairHousing.

Complaints dating back to January 20, 2020, will be investigated.

Why the Fair Housing Act is being expanded

There are three reasons HUD has expanded Fair Housing protections to trans and other LTBTQ Americans.

First, there’s President Biden’s Day 1 executive order, which calls on government agencies to “prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

According to agency spokespeople, HUD is the first department to comply with this executive order.

A new interpretation of the law

The recent Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County also plays a role. In the 2019 case, the court found that a transgender worker’s firing was a direct violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and that “sex” protections did indeed apply. 

“Homosexuality and transgender status are inextricably bound up with sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote.

“Not because homosexuality or transgender status are related to sex in some vague sense or because discrimination on these bases has some disparate impact on one sex or another, but because to discriminate on these grounds requires an employer to intentionally treat individual employees differently because of their sex.”

According to HUD, the ruling clarified how the Civil Rights Act — including its Fair Housing provisions — should be interpreted moving forward.

“Enforcing the Fair Housing Act to combat housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity isn’t just the right thing to do-it’s the correct reading of the law after Bostock,” said Damon Y. Smith, HUD’s principal deputy general counsel.

“We are simply saying that the same discrimination that the Supreme Court has said is illegal in the workplace is also illegal in the housing market.”

A history of housing discrimination

HUD also cited numerous studies surrounding housing discrimination and the LGBTQ community in its decision to expand Fair Housing protections.

One study, for example, found that same-sex male couples were significantly less likely to receive responses when seeking a rental property. Another found discrimination against transgender women in homeless shelters.

With the expansion of the Fair Housing Act, there’s now a legal path to recourse for individuals who have been barred from housing or discriminated against in this manner.

Source: themortgagereports.com

IT Jobs; VOE, CRM, Non-QM Products; Conventional Conforming News; CPI: No Inflation Worries

IT Jobs; VOE, CRM, Non-QM Products; Conventional Conforming News; CPI: No Inflation Worries

Here we are in the seemingly 58th week of 2020. What’s new? The podcast of today’s commentary features thoughts from the Millennial host on how lenders can address that market, and it can be heard via Apple, Spotify, or Google: subscribe and download. In terms of news, the FHFA extended forbearance protection past March. (More below on that.) And rating agency Moody’s view is that the CFPB’s recent changes to the QM rules would “allow lenders to qualify more types of loans as QM, resulting in a non-QM market with loans of lower credit quality, since most of today’s higher-quality non-QM loans would qualify as QM under the new rules, making future non-QM more synonymous with non-prime… the rule, if implemented could incentivize some lenders to price riskier loans lower than their true risk in an effort to fall within the new QM rule’s APR threshold. QM status conveys potential benefits to lenders and securitization issuers, such as protection against legal challenges and exemption from securitization risk retention.” More on this below as well, remember, the mandatory compliance date for the revised general QM and seasoned QM definitions is July 1.

Lender and Broker Services and Products

As the rush of mortgages and refis continues to flood the industry, it’s no secret that everyone’s feeling the deluge and leaving valuable loans on the table. At Truework, we know you’re feeling overwhelmed. Here are three things you can do to stop leaving valuable loans on the table, and take advantage of the market so you can come out on top. Truework is a US-based company with an expansive and ever-growing network and a dedicated team of mortgage professionals that are committed to tackling and completing any and all VOE/VOI requests. Additionally, we are the market leader for coverage for small and mid-sized companies. Start a verification on Truework now. Furthermore, with Truework, you can reverify employment for any request within 90 days of the original, receive up-to-date statuses on all verification reports, and get fast turnaround times. And for a limited time, Rob Chrisman readers get 6 free Verifications ($240 value). Let us do the heavy lifting so you can focus on what matters. Reach out to Zackary Green now for questions and to claim this offer.

Attention ClosingCorp and Reggora customers! If you use either of these platforms, you can now order appraisals and check the status of reports directly from within these systems – no need for yet another login. Triserv is fully integrated with both ClosingCorp and Reggora, as well as many other LOS and other technology providers. Triserv is a 50-state AMC that has client-specific, dedicated teams on both coasts offering high-touch, personalized service. To find out more, contact Triserv Appraisal Management Solutions.

Mortgage demand among self-employed and credit-challenged borrowers is still growing, according to Verus Mortgage Capital, the industry’s largest purchaser of Non-QM loan products. Largely ignored by lenders since COVID struck, the consumers demand has not changed. Fortunately, Non-QM guidelines are back to pre-COVID levels and some pricing is actually better, attracting more originators to this business. It’s time to help borrowers who don’t fit into the GSE credit box and who need the flexibility offered by the leading Non-QM investor. For more information about adding Non-QM products to your menu contact Jeff Schaefer, EVP of Correspondent Sales (202-534-1821).

One month into 2021 and Stearns Wholesale is already kicking the new year into high gear with exciting new tech developments! This week, Stearns has reduced its minimum lock duration from 60 to 45 days, reduced the minimum credit score to 620 now allowing up to 90% LTV on its Accelerator program, and removed the COVID cash out adjustment of .375. Stearns has also enhanced its Jumbo Loan Guidelines, which now allows 2nd homes, a max loan amount of $2 million and a minimum credit score down to 700. If you want to learn more about these exciting new product updates or partner with Stearns, click here to be contacted.

It’s a well-known fact that 2020 was a banner year for the mortgage industry. As you look over your 2020 numbers, ask yourself, “is this the best we could have done?” If you’re not working with Sales Boomerang to maximize borrower retention, the answer to that question is, “Nope. You definitely could have done better.” Sales Boomerang notifies lenders when someone in their database is ready for a loan. And the numbers speak for themselves: up to 65% borrower retention and 20-40% average lift to loan volume, all for around $299 per acquired loan — an average 20x ROI. Want more proof? With a loan loss report, Sales Boomerang can show you which competitor took your deal, the loan amount, type of loan, the term and much more. Request yours from Sales Boomerang today to learn how you can keep more of your borrowers.

As industry experts, TMS anticipates 2021 should see a steady rise in mortgage rates, and consequently, the refi faucet slowly turning off (eventually). The purchase market will once again be lenders’ bread and butter, although with slightly modified, post-COVID conditions. TMS CAREspondent has compiled some great tips in its new blog to help lenders prepare for this impending shift. Partner with TMS today.

While there’s no crystal ball capable of showing the industry’s future, MBA Chief Economist Dr. Mike Fratantoni is the next best thing. Join LBA Ware for the first of its quarterly webinar series More Insights, Better Decisions: Michael Fratantoni’s 2021 Mortgage Industry Outlook for a data-packed discussion on the state of the mortgage industry. Drawing on the latest stats, Mike will help you take a data-driven approach to your business decisions this year. Register for the free webinar, which takes place tomorrow, Thursday, February 11, from 1-2 pm ET.

“When people and robotic processes work together, loans get completed faster, error free.” If Elon Musk chose the mortgage industry, that’s how he’d do it. It’s how modern assembly lines achieve maximum efficiency. Yet many loan teams still handle loan files the old-fashioned way with tedious data entry, error-prone, time-consuming communications, and no way to get visibility into what may be at risk of missing critical deadlines. Now imagine an online, ultra-productive, “loan assembly line” that coordinates every step for every loan, actively prioritizes everyone’s tasks and eliminates tedious, routine work in your CRM+POS+LOS. That’s what TeamworkIQ does for $24/user/mo. It makes sure things get done right and get done on time while tracking each loan’s details, documents, deadlines and turn times. Loans get done faster and error free. What if you could 4x your efficiency in under 30 days? See how American Pacific Mortgage did and test-drive TeamworkIQ for free.

Leverage your existing technology ecosystem… it’s paid for!  Service 1st is integrated with multiple LOS and point of sale systems for TRV, SSV, VOE and credit reporting, with more added each year. Keep your team safely engaged and instantly cascade through S1 solutions within your IT environment. Additionally, many originators and lenders experienced significant VOE and credit reporting cost increases as we entered 2021. Have you contacted S1? S1 creates significant value via loan manufacturing efficiencies: Results (verifications and tradeline updates delivered 50% faster than industry benchmarks) without the hefty price tag. No signup fees or minimums.  Get started today with a no obligation price proposal at srv1st.com.

There’s still time to register for XINNIX’s upcoming quarterly Leadership Lessons Webinar: “Beyond the Daily Commentary 2021: A Live Q&A with Rob Chrisman” happening today at 1 PM ET. XINNIX Founder & CEO, Casey Cunningham, will be hosting this live Q&A session likely on topics focusing on exactly what is important to you. Reserve your seat today!

FHFA, Freddie, Fannie News Impacting Borrowers Everywhere

Huh? Freddie and Fannie operated like utilities? Let’s see how that is working out for PG&E and California. Seriously, what if the Administration left the two of them under conservatorship? It would certainly leave industry pundits less to talk about, right?

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) extended the forbearance period to 15 months for GSE borrowers. This is an additional three months beyond the previous 12-month limit. Black Knight had reported that nearly 25% of all (not just GSE) active forbearance plans were scheduled to reach their 12-month expiration in March, and another nearly 15% in April. This extension should provide support for troubled borrowers through the difficult winter and early spring months. We view this announcement positively for mortgage credit broadly. In our coverage universe this primarily benefits mortgage insurers and mortgage REITs.

Fannie Mae issued Selling Guide Announcement SEL-2021-01 which includes update information on the verification requirements related to seasonal and secondary income, the seller/servicer post-purchase adjustment (PPA) process to require the use of the PPA form, and the removal of references to lenders authorizing release of MI data.

A recent Compliance Update from First American Docutech discussed Freddie Mac’s announcements in Bulletin 2021-4  regarding CMT-indexed ARM, IRS Form 4506-C, and

authorized change for the uniform Oklahoma Mortgage (Form 3037). And Fannie Mae is retiring CMT Arm Products per FNMA LL-2021-05; more information in Compliance News.

loanDepot’s Weekly Announcement includes the Fannie Mae Appraisal Risk Management Policy Reminders and Resources and updates on FHA Loan Limits 2021. loanDepot has new programs available, smart Term Conforming and High Balance. Information on these programs and updates to its Conventional Lending Guide are discussed in this Announcement.

PRMG announced the expiration of QM Points and Fees Cure Provision on covered transactions with consummation dates after January 10. Impacted loan programs include Conventional (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), FHA and USDA. Lenders or assignees will no longer be allowed the option to cure the transaction and bring it into QM compliance when the total points and fees exceed the applicable limits.

Plaza Home Mortgage offers Fannie Mae HomeStyle® and Freddie Mac CHOICERenovation® loan programs. Download Plaza’s flyer for more information. In alignment with Freddie Mac Bulletin 2020-45, Plaza has updated the Home Possible® program guidelines, effective for all loans purchased on or after March 1, 2021. Specifically, this update reduces the maximum LTV from 95% to 85% for certain Home Possible Mortgages secured by 2-4-unit properties.

COVID tolerances have been extended on Flagstar Bank Conventional Products. Read Memo 21011 for details.

MQMR addressed how internal audit policies and procedures can meet federal and agency requirements. It discussed Fannie Mae’s release of several checklists as part of their Seller/Servicer Risk Self-Assessments, including the Internal Audit checklist. Internal audits are an important risk mitigation tool that uncover operational inefficiencies and potential areas of risk within a lender’s organization. For that reason, it is important for sellers/servicers to know that their Internal Audit policies and procedures satisfy federal and agency requirements and are effective for identifying risk. The article provides a list of requirements for an internal audit self-assessment checklist.

MQMR also spoke to the best practice of requiring outsourced service providers, such as contract underwriters and processors, to be checked against exclusionary lists. While the practice may not always be feasible to do, particularly if the lender is not made aware of the individual contract underwriter’s/processor’s name by the third party service provider that employs them, the article provided a summary of Agency guidelines on this issue from Fannie Mae Selling Guide Chapter A3-3, HUD Handbook 4000.1, Chapter II, A, 1, iii, and Freddie Mac Seller/Servicer Guide Chapter 3101.

Capital Markets

Our economy is driven by jobs and housing, and it is worthwhile to take another look at the employment numbers last week to keep things in perspective. After falling 227,000 in December, nonfarm payrolls increased a mere 49,000 in January disappointing many analysts who were expecting a more robust number. But thanks in part to a drop in the labor force, the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 to 6.3 percent. The U-6 unemployment rate, which includes those marginally attached to the labor force as well as those who are working part-time but prefer to be working full-time, declined. And initial claims for unemployment have been slowly declining and February’s outlook remains positive. Claims are still well above pre-recession levels and still largely affecting those in their prime working years. On top of that, U.S. manufacturing continues to improve according to the latest ISM Manufacturing Index. Inflation? Commodity prices rose nearly across the board for the month. Services also continued to expand but arts/entertainment/recreation, education services, and retail trade continue to struggle in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

Looking at rates Tuesday, Treasuries yields rose marginally across longer durations and the MBS basis ended Tuesday tighter, particularly on higher coupons as investors weighed the latest on stimulus, earnings, and vaccination efforts, trying to determine whether letting the economy run hot will spark destabilizing inflation. The day’s $58 billion 3-year note auction was met with solid demand ahead of today’s $41 billion 10-year Treasury note auction results.

Today’s economic calendar is already underway. Mortgage applications decreased 4.1 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 5. 30-year mortgage rates remained near their cycles lows during the reporting period (2 7/8). We’ve also had January Consumer Price Index (+.3 percent, as forecast, much of the gain due to gasoline, the core rate was unchanged). Coming up are December wholesale inventories and sales, remarks from Fed Chairman Powell on the “State of the US Labor Market” before the Economics Club of New York, and the January budget deficit from the Congressional Budget Office. Today’s Desk purchase schedule is the largest of the week at $8.8 billion over three operations, including over $7.3 billion in UMBS30s. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices unchanged and the 10-year yielding 1.15 after closing yesterday at 1.16 percent after the CPI data reminded us that inflation is currently not an issue.

 

Employment

“OpenClose continues to experience record setting growth while bank, credit union, and mortgage lender demand for our award-winning digital lending ecosystem is booming. This success makes available exciting opportunities for experienced mortgage banking and innovative software professionals to join the OpenClose family. We are seeking qualified and energetic professionals to join our implementation team as a Mortgage Software Implementation Specialist. The specialist will be responsible for the implementation of new customers and work with existing customers providing business + channel + user analysis, workflow evaluation, application setup and optimization of installations of our Web-based, enterprise-level mortgage software platform. Notable is that OpenClose is a 100% browser-based platform and can largely be implemented remotely. Minimal travel, if any, is involved in this position. Come see why OpenClose has received the Top Mortgage Employer award four years running. This and other opportunities can be accessed at Join the OpenClose Family!”

STRATMOR Group is anticipating a significant uptick in Merger and Acquisition activity in 2021. As a follow up to its recent open-position post, STRATMOR is seeking a professional with at least two years of hands-on M&A or Private Equity experience. This is a junior level position that will benefit from STRATMOR’s extensive experience in this industry. Employees of STRATMOR enjoy working at a company that has successfully managed remote work for decades and continues to grow in importance in the market. Specifically, this new hire will assist the STRATMOR team with tracking the M&A deal pipeline, generating interest with new M&A candidates, and creating Confidential Information Memorandums (CIMs), and financial models. If you are looking for an exciting new position with a highly respected mortgage consulting firm, then drop STRATMOR a note.

 

Source: mortgagenewsdaily.com