FHA Will Insure Mortgages in Forbearance, With a Catch

Last updated on June 23rd, 2020

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) finally announced a new policy, which is temporary, to endorse mortgages where the borrower has requested or obtained COVID-19 forbearance.

Mortgagee Letter 2020-16 temporarily reverses the FHA’s existing policy that doesn’t permit FHA insurance for mortgages in forbearance.

The agency said the policy ensures “the safeguards of the FHA program continue to work for new homeowners facing a financial hardship due to COVID-19.”

Now before mortgage lenders get too excited about this, there is a major hitch. They must sign an indemnification agreement with the FHA that leaves them on the hook for 20% of the original loan amount if it goes bad.

What Are the Requirements for Insuring FHA Loans in Forbearance?

  • Borrower must be experiencing a financial hardship due directly or indirectly to COVID-19
  • Mortgage must have been current at time of request for forbearance
  • Mortgage must satisfy all requirements for FHA insurance at time of closing
  • Mortgagee must execute a two-year partial indemnification agreement

Aside from that pretty significant piece about lenders being liable for 20% of the original loan amount, there are also some general requirements that must be met.

First off, the borrower must be experiencing a financial hardship directly or indirectly related to COVID-19 and in a forbearance plan.

Additionally, they must have been current on the mortgage at the time they requested the forbearance.

In the letter, the FHA says “forbearance provided to borrowers experiencing a financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19 is not considered the provision of funds by a Mortgagee to bring and/or keep the mortgage current or to provide the appearance of an acceptable payment history.”

In other words, the loan won’t be insurable if the borrower was already behind on the mortgage before asking for a break on payments.

Like any other FHA loan, it must satisfy all requirements for FHA insurance at the time of closing.

And as mentioned, the originating lender must execute a two-year partial indemnification agreement for 20% of the original loan amount.

The somewhat good news for lenders is that they’re only on the hook for that 20% if the mortgage goes into foreclosure and results in a claim to the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund.

But it could lead to lender overlays, like higher credit scores or a max number of forborne payments, to limit the likelihood of these loans going sour.

May Have Been an Alternative to Raising Mortgage Insurance Premiums

forbearance rate

HUD Deputy Secretary Brian Montgomery said, “This policy helps address current and future capital issues for all lenders, including those who are not equipped to hold mortgages on their balance sheets for extended lengths of time.”

While maybe true, it doesn’t explain how they’ll pay those claims if lots of homes go into foreclosure in the two-year indemnification period.

However, the FHA did add that it won’t require upfront payments by lenders or an adjustment to FHA mortgage insurance premiums for such loans.

And added that it would “generally result in a reduction of the claim amount FHA would need to pay to the lender for defaulted mortgages.”

Lenders might have time on their side since the housing market is on pretty good footing and mortgage rates are super cheap, meaning housing payments should be more or less affordable.

Foreclosures also take quite a bit of time these days, so depending on when that clock starts ticking, there may not be too many claims.

Of course, I don’t know how comfortable lenders are sitting around and wondering if a home loan will go bad at some point. And it’s a two-year period to sit around and wait.

Earlier this week, the MBA said 11.82% of outstanding Ginnie Mae-backed loans (FHA/USDA/VA) loans were in forbearance, while Black Knight reported today that 12.3% of FHA/VA mortgages are now in forbearance.

But the number of homeowners in forbearance plans decreased for the first time since the crisis began, with 34,000 fewer homeowners in forbearance as of June 2nd thanks to a 43,000 decline among government-backed mortgages.

Read more: Fannie and Freddie Will Buy Loans in Forbearance

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for nearly 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Homeowners in Forbearance Plans Have Lower Credit Scores, Higher DTI Ratios

Posted on July 28th, 2020

The latest weekly Forbearance and Call Volume Survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) revealed that 7.80% of outstanding home loans were in forbearance.

That number was up slightly from 7.74% a week earlier, putting roughly 3.9 million homeowners in forbearance plans.

Much of these are COVID-19-related, thanks in part to a very liberal CARES Act that allows just about anyone to apply for relief with no documentation.

Ginnie Mae Loans Continue to Perform the Worst

  • More than 10% of FHA/USDA/VA loans are in forbearance plans
  • This compares to roughly 5.5% of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans
  • While the forbearance numbers have leveled off in recent weeks
  • There’s a good chance the numbers may spike again if COVID worsens and the economy slows

In the latest week, the share of Ginnie Mae loans in forbearance increased from 10.26% to 10.27%, while the share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans in forbearance fell from 5.64% to 5.49%.

Mortgages backed by Ginnie Mae include FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans, all of which have relatively easy qualifying criteria relative to conforming loans backed by Fannie/Freddie.

While the numbers seemed to have leveled off lately across all loan types, things could get worse if the COVID-19 flare ups across the country continue. And who knows what the fall and winter hold.

In the meantime, we’ve got some data that sheds light on what types of homeowners are entering into mortgage forbearance plans, courtesy of the Urban Institute.

They used forbearance data provided by Ginnie Mae, which ends with mortgages having a first payment date in May 2020, to illustrate the differences between loans not in forbearance and those in COVID-related forbearance.

Is Credit Score a Driver of Mortgage Forbearance?

Ginnie credit score

As you can see from the graph above, credit scores were lower across the board for those in forbearance plans compared to those who weren’t.

For example, 46% of those in forbearance plans had FICO scores below 660, compared to just 30% of those not in forbearance.

And just 13% of those in forbearance had credit scores from 720-779, a full 10 percentage points less than the non-forbearance cohort.

So-called excellent credit was basically unheard of in the forbearance group, with just two percent of borrowers having scores of 780+.

This compared to 10% of those who weren’t in forbearance plans when the data was collected.

Additionally, debt-to-income ratios (DTIs) were higher for those who took advantage of COVID-19 forbearance.

forbearance credit

As seen in the chart above, the median DTI was 40% for borrowers not in forbearance plans, and 43.7% for those in COVID-related forbearance.

If we break it down to purchase loans, it’s 40.5% versus 44%. If we only consider mortgage refinances, it’s a wider 37.9% versus 42.5%.

So it’s clear that both credit score and DTI are drivers of mortgage forbearance.

Conversely, loan-to-value ratio (LTV) doesn’t seem to make any impact, though these types of loans all feature very-low or no-down payment requirement.

The Urban Institute’s take is that those with the weakest credit profiles are the most likely to be impacted by COVID.

Assuming this is correct, “it would indicate that institutionalized forbearance has kept the most vulnerable homeowners from losing their homes.”

Fear of Forbearance Hurts New Loan Applicants

tight credit box

  • Lenders are afforded some protections if borrowers go into forbearance shortly after loan funding
  • But the financial penalties are still pretty steep and unattractive
  • This has caused lenders to implement overlays above traditional qualifying criteria
  • And reduce the time they hold a loan between closing and sale for securitization

Unfortunately, mortgage lenders seem to already be aware of this, and have since tightened the credit box by imposing overlays on top of minimum requirements.

As a result, otherwise qualified homeowners have been shut out of the mortgage market, whether it’s for a new home purchase or a refinance, at a time when mortgage rates are at record lows and home equity at all-time highs.

They estimate that forbearance-related “penalties,” like the requirement for FHA lenders to sign a two-year partial indemnification agreement for 20% of the original loan amount, will result in 1% fewer home purchase loans and 5% fewer refinance loans in 2020.

That will affect approximately 255,000 creditworthy borrowers who may have no intention or desire to go into forbearance. But this is collateral damage.

Their argument is that very few loans actually go into forbearance before being sold, so it’s essentially creating an unnecessary roadblock with little upside to the housing agencies.

Of course, it’s not likely to change, so those looking to buy a home or refi this year or next really need to pay attention to their credit scores and debt load to ensure they qualify.

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for nearly 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Mortgage Lenders Now Providing Payment Relief Due to Coronavirus

Last updated on December 28th, 2020

I will update this post as new information is made available, but we’re starting to see mortgage relief packages rolled out by all the major housing agencies.

Whether the government launches some sort of HAMP-esque program that goes beyond the usual loss mitigation options remains to be seen.

That may be dictated by how bad the coronavirus outbreak gets, and its eventual effect on the housing market.

Coronavirus Relief for FHA Loans

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which oversees the FHA home loan program, has halted foreclosures and evictions for the next 60 days as a result of COVID-19.

This applies to the initiation of a foreclosure and the completion of any foreclosures in process.

Additionally, lenders must cease all evictions of individuals living in an FHA-insured single-family property.

This guidance applies to both forward FHA loans and reverse mortgages, known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM).

With regard to mortgage payment relief, the FHA has called on loan servicers to offer its suite of loss mitigation options, including short and long-term forbearance options, along with mortgage loan modifications.

Coronavirus Relief for VA Loans

The VA has released a circular titled, “Foreclosure Moratorium for Borrowers Affected by COVID19,” which strongly encourages a 60-day halt on foreclosures and evictions beginning March 18th, 2020.

They have also encouraged holders of VA guaranteed home loans to extend forbearance to borrowers affected by COVID-19.

Loan servicers have been to told to evaluate the VA Loss Mitigation options outlined in Chapter 5 of the VA Servicer Handbook M26-4.

This may include the reapplication of prepayments to cure or prevent a loan default, and allows the terms of any guaranteed loan to be modified without the prior approval of the VA, assuming conditions in the regulation are met.

USDA Rural Development Response

First off, USDA Rural Development will continue to provide USDA home loans and grants to those in rural communities nationwide.

Additionally, they have granted authority to lenders that participate in their Single-Family Housing Guaranteed program to work with borrowers having difficulty making payments.

Lastly, RD will issue guidance to its Single-Family Housing Direct borrowers to ensure those in need of payment assistance are adequately reached.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Assistance Options

The pair, which back the vast majority of home loans, have both suspended foreclosure sales and evictions for the next 60 days.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will provide payment forbearance for up to 12 months.

Fannie Mae says it will either reduce or suspend borrower’s mortgage payments during that time.

Neither will assess penalties or late fees against borrowers.

Freddie Mac says forbearance is an option regardless of occupancy, meaning primary residences, second homes, and investment properties are all eligible for relief.

Additionally, both are suspending the reporting of delinquencies related to any forbearance, repayment, or trial plans to the credit bureaus.

So homeowners won’t have to worry about getting dinged by the credit bureaus as they seek assistance.

Boston Mortgage Relief

The Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, has inked a deal with 12 banks and mortgage lenders that allows homeowners to defer mortgage payments for at least three months.

The institutions in question include Bank of America, Boston Private, Cambridge Trust Company, Century Bank, Citizens Bank, City of Boston Credit Union, Dedham Savings Bank, Eastern Bank, Mortgage Network, Inc., PrimeLending, Salem Five Bank, and Santander Bank.

The participating lenders will extend loan deferment if needed, and have also agreed to a collective goal of approving deferments within 21 days of application.

Only “essential paperwork” is needed from the borrower, and it will not be reported to the credit bureaus as being a late, nor will they will charge late fees.

Most importantly, once the deferment period comes to an end, the homeowner will not be required to pay the total deferment/forbearance amount in a lump sum.

Connecticut COVID-19 Mortgage Assistance

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has announced that his administration has reached an agreement with 50+ credit unions and banks to offer mortgage relief to homeowners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like other states, there will be a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments and no foreclosures/evictions for 60 days.

Additionally, homeowners will get relief from any fees and charges for 90 days, and won’t suffer any negative credit score impact.

Nevada Mortgage Relief Measures

  • Moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for duration of the State of Emergency
  • 90-day grace period on mortgage payments
  • Banks have agreed to work directly with customers to ensure no one pays a giant lump sum payment to get back on track

Governor Sisolak and State Treasurer Zach Conine have announced relief options for homeowners in the state of Nevada.

They say “a vast majority of lending institutions are offering homeowners facing financial hardships due to COVID-19.”

This includes a a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments, and more importantly, have agreed to “ensure that no one is hit with a giant lump sum payment if they need to stop making payments for a couple of months.”

“In many cases, these payments can instead be added onto the back end of a loan, so people can get back to work and get back on their feet.”

New Jersey Mortgage Grace Period

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced mortgage payment forbearance of up to 90 days for borrowers economically impacted by COVID-19.

  • 90-day grace period for mortgage payments
  • No negative credit impact for receiving assistance
  • No mortgage-related fees or charges for at least 90 days
  • Moratorium on foreclosure sales and evictions for at least 60 days

New York State Mortgage Assistance

In New York State, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order that provides mortgage relief, including a 90-day payment holiday to homeowners impacted by the novel coronavirus.

Here are the details:

  • Postpones or suspends any foreclosures
  • Waives mortgage payments for 90-days based on financial hardship
  • No negative reporting (late payments) to credit bureaus
  • Grace period for loan modifications
  • No late payment fees or online payment fees

Apparently, any missed monthly mortgage payments are being tacked on to the back of the loan. It’s unclear if this will effectively freeze the mortgage or result in a balloon payment.

Worldwide Response

Last week, Italy’s deputy economy minister announced that mortgage payments would be suspended across the entire country in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

While plenty of Italian homeowners might not actually contract the virus, the economic implications of a countrywide shutdown could affect their ability to make timely housing payments.

For example, with Italy effectively coming to a standstill, many homeowners may not be able to work until the lockdown is lifted.

It’s unclear who will be paid during this time. There are also longer-term layoffs to consider if businesses are permanently affected.

In the UK, similar measures are already being extended by individual banks, including TSB Bank, which is offering a “repayment holiday for up to two months.”

My understanding is this gives homeowners a two-month break before they must resume making timely monthly mortgage payments.

Similar moratoriums are being offered to mortgage borrowers by other British banks, and they’re also making it easier for customers to get access to their cash if need be.

U.S. Mortgage Lenders May Not Be Far Behind

  • Italian banks have already suspended mortgage payments nationwide
  • UK banks are now offering mortgage holidays to affected customers
  • Matter of time before U.S. banks and lenders extend similar assistance
  • If you need help paying your mortgage, contact your loan servicer and look out for news bulletins

While no major coronavirus restrictions have made it to the United States just yet, at least beyond some universities and other private institutions, there’s a chance we could experience a similar clampdown soon.

Really, it sounds more like a matter of when than if, despite no mandatory freedom of movement likely.

This is known as “social distancing,” designed to limit human-to-human contact and stop the spread of the fast-moving COVID-19.

Assuming that happens, there’s a good chance mortgage lenders will step in and offer temporarily relief for those affected.

Again, while the virus itself may not directly affect an individual homeowner’s health, disruptions in multiple industries could lead to layoffs or the inability to perform job duties.

Generally, when a natural disaster occurs, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD offer some level of assistance and/or guidance to loan servicers to ensure borrowers can get back on their feet, or avoid falling behind to begin with.

This may involve the suspension or reduction of mortgage payments for 90 days up to six months, depending on the circumstances.

They may also suspend eviction lock-outs on real estate owned (REO) inventory to avoid displacing tenants during what could be a sensitive time.

Tip: If you need assistance paying your mortgage at this time, be sure to keep an eye on the FHFA or HUD websites, along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s, for any pertinent announcements.

Homeowners Are Helping Themselves to Lower Mortgage Rates

  • Record low interest rates lead to 55.4% increase in weekly mortgage applications, per MBA
  • Refinance share surged to 76.5% of total loan volume from 66.2% a week earlier
  • 2020 mortgage origination forecast revised up to $2.61 trillion
  • Industry group now expects refis to account for $1.23 trillion in volume, up 36.7% from earlier estimates

In the meantime, homeowners seem to be helping themselves by taking advantage of the record low mortgage rates also on offer at the moment.

Instead of asking for a payment holiday, borrowers are lowering their mortgage rates in droves via a traditional mortgage refinance.

This morning, the MBA reported that home loan applications surged 55.4% from a week earlier as refis jumped 79% to their highest level since April 2009.

Home purchase applications also rose six percent from a week earlier, a good sign in an otherwise uncertain time.

That pushed the refinance share of mortgage activity to 76.5% of total applications from 66.2% a week earlier.

The record low interest rate environment prompted the MBA to revise its origination forecast, forecasting total mortgage volume of $2.61 trillion this year, a 20.3% increase from 2019’s volume ($2.17 trillion).

Additionally, they expect home refinance originations to double their earlier projections, surging 36.7% to around $1.23 trillion.

Despite the unknowns in this ever-evolving situation, home purchase originations are still slated to climb 8.3% this year to $1.38 trillion.

While this is generally good news for the mortgage industry, it’s probably wreaking havoc on loan servicers and mortgage investors who are seeing prepayment speeds go through the roof.

Additionally, it’s going to make it difficult for mortgage companies to get their staffing right if mortgage rates all of a sudden U-turn, and in any case, once the party comes to an end.

Read more: How soon can I refinance my mortgage?

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Mortgages in Forbearance Fell in January 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up all areas of the U.S. economy in a number of ways, and the mortgage industry has been no exception. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of mortgages in forbearance have increased significantly — due, in major part, to the high unemployment numbers as well as the federal relief programs meant to help protect homeowners who are struggling financially.

 While the forbearance and delinquency numbers in January 2021 look more optimistic than they did at other points in the past, experts still predict it will be a while before the rates return to pre-pandemic numbers. Here’s what you should know about this issue.

In this article

Current state of forbearance as of January 2021

According to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, about 5.46% of all mortgages — or roughly 2.7 million homeowners — were in forbearance during the second week of January, down slightly from 5.53% the week prior.

Forbearance numbers have ebbed and flowed over the past 10 months, in major part because of the economic changes caused by the pandemic. The latest decrease in forbearances came after a three-week increase caused by the economic slowdown in December.

There are still tons of people still struggling to make their mortgage payments, however, and two important federal relief programs are set to end soon — which could cause big issues for homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages.

The foreclosure moratoriums for Fannie Mae are set to end January 31, while the foreclosure protections for Freddie Mac loans are set to end on Febuary 28. Further compounding the issue is the fact that the deadline to request forbearance on a government-backed loan is currently February 28.

If your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or another government agency and you’re still facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, be sure to request mortgage relief before the deadline. You can request up to 180 days of forbearance if you need it.

2020 forbearance trends and the COVID-19 pandemic

When the pandemic hit and unemployment numbers increased, many homeowners struggled to make their mortgage payments. In response, the federal government provided mortgage relief as part of the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Included in the bill was a provision to protect homeowners with mortgages that are backed by a government agency or government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Under the CARES Act, borrowers who fit the criteria couldn’t have their home foreclosed on. Those experiencing a financial hardship could also request forbearance in 180-day increments for a total period of 12 months.

During the first couple of months of the pandemic, the number of homeowners with forbearances grew rapidly. At the start of the pandemic in early March, only 0.25% of loans were in forbearance. By the first week of April, that number had risen to 3.74%.

The percentage of mortgage loans in forbearance peaked at 8.6% in June, representing about 4.2 million mortgages. While the numbers ebbed and flowed throughout the rest of 2020, the rate of mortgages in forbearance generally declined.

As unemployment and forbearance rates remained high throughout the year, government agencies extended deadlines on forbearance requests and extended foreclosure moratoriums. As of Jan. 2021, borrowers have until Feb. 28 to request forbearance on their government-backed loan, and their mortgage cannot be foreclosed on until the same date. For Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, there is no deadline to request forbearance, but the foreclosure moratorium ends Jan. 31, 2021.

Despite the relief provided by the federal government, mortgage delinquencies still remain high. Part of the problem is that the federal protections only apply to those with a government or GSE-backed mortgage. As a result, many homeowners aren’t eligible, and some may not realize there are programs available to help.

[ Read: Best Refinance Rates ]

Before COVID-19, the number of mortgages that were delinquent was fairly steady at about 3.6%. By mid-2020, that number had risen to more than 8%. Mortgage experts expect that delinquency rates won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until early 2022.

How the housing market was affected by COVID and government forbearance programs

Despite the increase in unemployment and mortgage delinquencies throughout 2020, the past year has still been booming for the housing market.

First, the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates in 2020 to help keep the economy moving during the pandemic. As a result, mortgage rates have reached all-time lows over the past year, significantly increasing the demand for homes and refinances.

The public health crisis also caused many families to flee urban areas in favor of suburban neighborhoods or smaller towns. This pattern has caused housing demand and prices to spike in those areas due to an influx of new residents.

The government relief programs have also kept the housing supply low, despite the high demand. Thanks to the foreclosure moratorium and forbearance program, many homeowners have been able to stay in their homes when they otherwise may have had to sell. As a result, the housing market supply hasn’t increased like it generally does during an economic crisis.

What to expect for the rest of 2021

There’s no way to know exactly what is to come for the remainder of 2021. The past 12 months have been a tumultuous time for the economy as a whole, including the housing market.

The first thing worth noting is that many of the federal protections for homeowners are set to end soon. The foreclosure moratorium will end Jan. 31 for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Feb. 28 for mortgages backed by a government agency. Additionally, the deadline for homeowners to request forbearance from a government agency is Feb. 28.

Despite the protections currently in place, the delinquency rate for federally-backed loans has remained significantly higher than the rate for mortgages overall. Once the current relief programs end, it’s possible that many of the loans currently in forbearance will become delinquent, ultimately causing them to go into foreclosure.

[ Read: Best Investment Property Mortgage Rates ]

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

Factors Driving The Housing Market Moving into 2021

According to a study done by Eyul Tekin, “after adjusting for inflation over time the future of the American Dream seems rather gloomy. Median home prices increased 121% nationwide since 1960, but median household income only increased 29%.” This is rather disturbing.

Thankfully, we have companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who have mandates to keep housing affordable for Americans.

In response to this disparity between the rise in wages versus home prices, Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae said “the rise of women in the workforce has changed the dynamics of house prices to reflect an expectation of two incomes. If you look at median house price in a market relative to median income of a two- person household, it’s at long term normal levels. If you have only one income, that is where the affordability problem is.”

So, it’s not so gloomy, it is societal trends running their course.

The accelerated increase in house pricing is being driven by several factors:

  • The cost of the big three components – land, labor and lumber – have all increased. Lumber cost is at an all-time high. With lower levels of immigration, labor costs have increased and, with strict zoning regulations, especially in urban settings, land has been limited and the price driven up.
  • Low interest rates, which are expected to remain at existing levels though this year, have made borrowing more affordable. That same monthly payment can now buy more house, driving up buyers’ bids.
  • The supply/demand imbalance, which is perhaps the biggest factor. On January 22nd, the National Association of Realtors announced that unsold housing inventory sits at an all-time low of 1.9 months based on the current sales rate. That’s down from 3 months a year ago. Demand, driven by low interest rates and societal shifts due to Covid-19, has outpaced supply.

Why the shortage of houses for sale?

Many people, especially older people driven by COVID-19 concerns, who own homes don’t think now is a good time to sell. In December, the Fannie Mae  Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) declined for the second consecutive month and fell to its lowest level since May 2020 as consumers adjusted to the worsening COVID-19 conditions of the first few weeks of December.

“Both the ‘Good Time to Sell’ and ‘Good Time to Buy’ components fell significantly, with respondents overwhelmingly noting the unfavourability of economic conditions,” Duncan said. “In particular, the sell-side component fell for the first time since April and by 18 points, reversing most of the increases of the past three months and implying to us that, at least temporarily, potential home sellers might wait to list their homes. If so, this could have the effect of perpetuating already-tight inventory levels and supporting additional (albeit lesser) home price growth, which could contribute to a further moderating of home sales.”  When supply falls more sharply than demand, prices increase.

Supply is Expected to Increase Going Forward

The U.S. Commerce Department announced that housing starts jumped 21.4% on a year-over-year basis and building permits soared 9.2%, the highest level in 13 years. “The good news about the house rise is that markets are performing the way you would expect. When prices go up and profits go up that is a signal for others to enter production and increase supply, and that’s certainly happening,” Duncan said. However, it might take a while for the supply to catch up with demand. Experts say that homebuilders and construction companies will have to continue these increased efforts though 2022 to meet demand levels.

It’s Not Just About Building More Houses

More people may be putting their houses on the market as well. As the HPSI indicates, there is pent up demand on the sell side.

Also, the MBA estimates that 5.54% of mortgage loans are in forbearance. When forbearance ends, some homeowners will be faced with a tough choice, either sell or get foreclosed upon. Unless they bought very recently, chances are they have built up enough equity to make selling the best option. This too will add to inventory levels.

The impact of the end of forbearance on the housing market is a matter of debate, but Fannie Mae sees the impact as one reason it is forecasting housing appreciation in 2021 to be 4.5% rather than the 10% of 2020. (Note: the historical norm for annual price increase is 3.75%)

Millennials were already starting to move from urban to suburban areas. During the financial crisis Millennials were looking for jobs and the places they were available was in the urban centers. This meant many lived in apartments. Now that they have children that are reaching school age they are moving out to areas with more land, more sports, good schools and other amenities.

They are moving from urban areas to the suburbs. When COVID-19 hit, the plans these people had for the next three years accelerated. The recent housing starts data support this, showing single family housing starts rose 12% while multi-family fell 13.6%.

How sustainable this movement is remains to be seen. If this is just an acceleration of buying that would have happened anyway, it implies that the supply/demand balance would move toward more supply, less demand a few years out.

There are a lot of factors at play when it comes accessing the cost of housing. It seems that the house prices will continue to rise in the short term and have the potential to grow at a slower pace, or even decline slightly, a few years out. With that said, if you have to borrow to buy a house, now is a good time to buy. You might just have to be more patient or more aggressive than you would have been otherwise given the competition.

Source: themortgageleader.com

FHFA announces further extension of COVID-related mortgage relief

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is providing an additional three months of forbearance to borrowers with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, totaling 18 months of relief due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The FHFA said Thursday that it was aligning its policies with the Biden administration to address economic burdens for homeowners due to COVID-19. The change comes nearly three weeks after the agency extended the total forbearance period to 15 months.

When Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act last year, it allowed borrowers with federally backed mortgages to request up to 12 months of forbearance — divided into two 180-day increments — if they experienced financial hardship.

In forbearance, a borrower is allowed to suspend payments by extending the loan’s terms. There is no set cutoff date for the 18-month forbearance period because borrowers have entered and exited forbearance at different times.

“Today’s extensions of the COVID-19 forbearance period to 18 months and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through the end of June will help align mortgage policies across the federal government,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said.

“Today’s extensions of the COVID-19 forbearance period to 18 months and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through the end of June will help align mortgage policies across the federal government,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said.

Bloomberg News

The FHFA also said Thursday that it was extending a moratorium on foreclosures and real estate-owned evictions until June 30 for loans backed by Fannie and Freddie. Because housing prices have jumped dramatically, borrowers are more likely to be able to sell their homes than go into foreclosure than in financial crisis in 2008, when many were underwater on their mortgages.

The foreclosure moratorium had been set to expire on March 31, but the FHFA is offering another three-month extension only for single-family mortgages backed by the government-sponsored enterprises. The REO eviction moratorium applies to properties acquired by the GSEs through foreclosures or deed-in-lieu transactions.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced similar extensions of relief for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Agriculture.

“Today’s extensions of the COVID-19 forbearance period to 18 months and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through the end of June will help align mortgage policies across the federal government,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said in a press release. “Borrowers and the housing finance market alike can benefit during the pandemic from the consistent treatment of mortgages regardless of who owns or backs them.”

Roughly 2.6 million homeowners were in forbearance plans as of Feb. 14, representing 5.29% of loans serviced, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Monday.

The share of Fannie- and Freddie-backed loans in forbearance fell slightly to 2.97% last week, from 3.01% on Feb. 8, the MBA said. By comparison, 5.22% of all loans serviced are currently in forbearance plans, the MBA said.

Source: nationalmortgagenews.com

Mortgage and refinance rates today, February 26, 2021

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates soared yesterday, rising by a greater amount than we’ve seen in a long time. Of course, they’re still very low in a historical context.

Markets often correct themselves after sharp movements such as yesterday’s. And I’m expecting that mortgage rates may fall today but probably modestly. However, during such volatile times, markets can shift direction quickly and they certainly read as jittery at the moment.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 26th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 3.058% 3.061% +0.08%
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.488% 2.497% Unchanged
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.983% 2.99% +0.09%
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.567% 2.587% +0.01%
30 year fixed FHA 2.816% 3.495% +0.06%
15 year fixed FHA 2.517% 3.1% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.213% +0.01%
30 year fixed VA 2.375% 2.547% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.392% +0.01%
Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 26th, 2021)


COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Overnight, CNBC summed up what happened yesterday:

The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note [which mortgage rates often shadow] briefly surpassed 1.6% on Thursday, its highest in over a year, fueled by expectations for higher economic growth and inflation.

We’ve been highlighting the same two factors for some time now. And they haven’t gone away.

So my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • LOCK if closing in 45 days
  • LOCK if closing in 60 days

But, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So be guided by your gut and your personal tolerance for risk.

Compare top lenders

Market data affecting today’s mortgage rates 

Here’s a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys edged up to 1.48% from 1.45%. (Normally, bad for mortgage rates. But yesterday’s rise was reflected in yesterday’s rates and yields are now falling.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were mixed on opening. (Neutral for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they’re often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices fell to $62.54 from $63.02 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices fell to $1,756 from $1,785 an ounce. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) In general, it’s better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — Fell to 59 from 69 out of 100. (Good for mortgage rates.) “Greedy” investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while “fearful” investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Caveats about markets and rates

Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve’s interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that’s no longer the case. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. But, with that caveat, so far mortgage rates today look likely to dip a little or hold steady.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 26th, 2021)

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed’s ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (way over $1 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can’t work miracles all the time. And read “For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here’s why” if you want to understand this aspect of what’s happening
  2. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy’s doing well and down when it’s in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care
  3. Only “top-tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  4. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases. But some types of refinances are higher following a regulatory change

So there’s a lot going on here. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what’s going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Today and soon

I’m expecting mortgage rates today to edge lower or remain unchanged. But, as always, that could change as the day progresses. Indeed, such intraday swings have become an irritating feature of markets. And they’re especially likely at times like this when investors are so skittish.

Nothing’s changed. And, if there is a fall in mortgage rates today, it will likely be markets correcting themselves after too sharp a rise yesterday. This is a common phenomenon after exceptional volatility.

So don’t think such a fall means the pressures that have recently been pushing those rates higher have suddenly evaporated. It seems to me highly improbable that we’ll see those falling back to record-low levels anytime soon.

Indeed, more rises seem more likely for the time being, absent some sudden and very bad economic news.

For more background on my wider thinking, read our latest weekend edition, which is published every Saturday soon after 10 a.m. (ET).

Recently

Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions last year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. But rates then rose. And Freddie’s Feb. 25 report puts that weekly average at 2.97%, up from the previous week’s 2.81%, and the highest it’s been since mid-2020.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

And here are their current rates forecasts for each quarter of 2021 (Q1/21, Q2/21, Q3/21 and Q4/21).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie’s and the MBA’s were updated on Feb. 18 and 19 respectively. But Freddie now publishes forecasts quarterly and its figures are from mid-January:

Forecaster Q1/21 Q2/21 Q3/21 Q4/21
Fannie Mae 2.8% 2.8% 2.9% 2.9%
Freddie Mac 2.9% 2.9% 3.0% 3.0%
MBA 2.8% 3.1% 3.3% 3.4%

However, given so many unknowables, the current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual. And there’s certainly a widening spread as the year progresses.

Find your lowest rate today

Some lenders have been spooked by the pandemic. And they’re restricting their offerings to just the most vanilla-flavored mortgages and refinances.

But others remain brave. And you can still probably find the cash-out refinance, investment mortgage or jumbo loan you want. You just have to shop around more widely.

But, of course, you should be comparison shopping widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Verify your new rate (Feb 26th, 2021)

Compare top lenders

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

Source: themortgagereports.com

Mortgage and refinance rates today, February 25, 2021

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates nudged higher yet again yesterday. Of course, these rates remain exceptionally low by historical standards and are at dream levels for most. But they’re not like they were in 2020 and early January.

First thing, it was looking likely that mortgage rates will rise again today, partly because this morning’s weekly job figures were better than many expected. Read on for a fuller analysis.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 26th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.982% 2.985% +0.02%
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.488% 2.497% Unchanged
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.894% 2.901% -0.03%
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.556% 2.58% -0.01%
30 year fixed FHA 2.762% 3.438% +0.02%
15 year fixed FHA 2.517% 3.099% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.201% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 2.372% 2.544% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.379% Unchanged
Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 26th, 2021)


COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

On the one hand, investors want to believe that the pandemic will soon be over and the economy will boom. And they like that’s looking increasingly probable. But, on the other, they fear that a boom will unleash inflation, something that very much bothers those who hold fixed-interest bonds — including mortgage-backed securities.

The trouble is, both that belief and that fear tend to push up mortgage rates. And it’s that double-whammy that’s currently driving those rates higher.

Maybe some momentous news will come along that drags mortgage rates lower again. But it’s hard to imagine what might do so quickly. But read on for something that just possibly could.

Still, my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • LOCK if closing in 45 days
  • LOCK if closing in 60 days

But, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So be guided by your gut and your personal tolerance for risk.

Compare top lenders

Market data affecting today’s mortgage rates 

Here’s a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys edged up to 1.45% from 1.43%. (Bad for mortgage rates) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were mostly lower on opening. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they’re often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices rose to $63.02 from $62.25 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices inched higher to $1,785 from $1,784 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it’s better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — Climbed to 69 from 57 out of 100. (Bad for mortgage rates.) “Greedy” investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while “fearful” investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Caveats about markets and rates

Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve’s interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that’s no longer the case. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. But, with that caveat, so far mortgage rates today look likely to move higher.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 26th, 2021)

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed’s ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (way over $1 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can’t work miracles all the time. And read “For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here’s why” if you want to understand this aspect of what’s happening
  2. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy’s doing well and down when it’s in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care
  3. Only “top-tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  4. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases. But some types of refinances are higher following a regulatory change

So there’s a lot going on here. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what’s going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Today and soon

I’m expecting mortgage rates to rise today. But, as always, that could change as the day progresses. Indeed, such intraday swings have become an irritating feature of markets.

Yesterday and recently, we’ve been saying that mortgage rates are unlikely to fall soon, absent some terrible news, such as a vaccine-resistant strain of SARS-CoV-2 emerging. Well, also yesterday, The New York Times reported:

A new form of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in New York City, and it carries a worrisome mutation that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines, two teams of researchers have found.

The new variant, called B.1.526, first appeared in samples collected in the city in November. By the middle of this month, it accounted for about one in four viral sequences appearing in a database shared by scientists.


A New Coronavirus Variant Is Spreading in New York, Researchers Report — NYT, Feb. 24, 2021

The research is yet to be peer-reviewed and may turn out to be nothing. But the report does underline the uncertainty that we all have to contend with at the moment.

If I were you, I wouldn’t delay locking just on the basis of one story. It could take months before markets take the threat seriously — and even then only if it proves accurate. In the meantime, it currently looks more likely that rates will rise or remain close to current levels between now and when you have to close.

For more background on my wider thinking, read our latest weekend edition, which is published every Saturday soon after 10 a.m. (ET).

Recently

Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions last year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. But rates then rose. And Freddie’s Feb. 25 report (today) puts that weekly average at 2.97%, up from the previous week’s 2.81%, and the highest it’s been for a year.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

And here are their current rates forecasts for each quarter of 2021 (Q1/21, Q2/21, Q3/21 and Q4/21).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie’s and the MBA’s were updated on Feb. 18 and 19 respectively. But Freddie now publishes forecasts quarterly and its figures are from mid-January:

Forecaster Q1/21 Q2/21 Q3/21 Q4/21
Fannie Mae 2.8% 2.8% 2.9% 2.9%
Freddie Mac 2.9% 2.9% 3.0% 3.0%
MBA 2.8% 3.1% 3.3% 3.4%

However, given so many unknowables, the current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual. And there’s certainly a widening spread as the year progresses.

Find your lowest rate today

Some lenders have been spooked by the pandemic. And they’re restricting their offerings to just the most vanilla-flavored mortgages and refinances.

But others remain brave. And you can still probably find the cash-out refinance, investment mortgage or jumbo loan you want. You just have to shop around more widely.

But, of course, you should be comparison shopping widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Verify your new rate (Feb 26th, 2021)

Compare top lenders

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

Source: themortgagereports.com