New Fannie/Freddie Refinance Option Drops Adverse Market Fee, Offers $500 Appraisal Credit

Posted on April 28th, 2021

In an effort to undo some of the damage the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) basically caused itself, it’s throwing a bone to so-called low-income families to save on their mortgage.

It all spurs from the adverse market fee the very same agency implemented back in August 2020 to contend with heightened losses related to COVID-19 forbearance and loss mitigation.

The 50-basis point fee, which went into effect on September 1st, 2020, applies to all new refinance loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While it’s not a .50% increase in mortgage rate, the fee does get passed along to consumers in the form of either higher closing costs or a slightly higher mortgage rate, perhaps an .125% increase all told.

Either way, it wasn’t well received at the time, and still isn’t today, and this announcement is a somewhat bittersweet one, as it only applies to a certain subset of the population.

Still, the FHFA believes families who are eligible for this new refinance initiative could see monthly savings between $100 and $250 on average.

Who Is Eligible for Adverse Market Fee Waiver and Appraisal Credit?

  • Applies to homeowners with incomes at or below 80% of the area median income and loan amounts at/below $300,000
  • Must result in savings of at least $50 in monthly mortgage payment, and at least a 50-basis point reduction in interest rate
  • Must currently hold an agency-backed mortgage (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac)
  • Property must be a 1-unit single-family that is owner-occupied
  • Borrower must be current on their mortgage (no missed payments in past 6 months, 1 allowed in past 12 months)
  • Max LTV is 97%, max DTI is 65%, and minimum FICO score is 620

Perhaps the biggest eligibility factor is the borrower’s income must be at or below 80% of the area median income.

This new refinance program specifically targets what the FHFA refers to as low-income families, which director Mark Calabria said didn’t take advantage of the record low mortgage rates.

Apparently more than two million of these homeowners did not bother refinancing, even though it would have been advantageous to do so (and still is).

He noted that this new refinance option was designed to help eligible borrowers who have not already refinanced save somewhere between $1,200 and $3,000 annually on their mortgage payments.

That’s actually a requirement as well – the borrower must save at least $50 per month in mortgage payment, and their mortgage rate must be at least .50% lower.

For example, if your current mortgage rate is 4%, you’ll need a rate of at least 3.5% to qualify.

Additionally, you must currently have a home loan backed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and your property must be owner-occupied and no more than one unit.

I assume condos/townhomes work as well, as long as it’s your primary residence.

The adverse market fee is waived as long as your income is at/below 80% of the area median AND your loan balance is at/below $300,000.

If your loan amount happens to be higher, my understanding is you can still get the $500 appraisal credit.

You’ve also got to be current on your mortgage, meaning no missed payments in past six months, and up to one missed payment in past 12 months.

Lastly, there is a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 97%, a max debt-to-income ratio of 65%, and a minimum FICO score is 620.

Most borrowers should have no issue with those requirements as they are extremely liberal.

Is This New Refinance Option a Good Deal for Homeowners?

  • It’s an excellent deal for those who haven’t refinanced their mortgages yet
  • You get a slightly lower mortgage rate and/or reduced closing costs
  • And with mortgage rates already super cheap it could be a double-win to save you some money
  • Even though who don’t qualify for this new program should check to see if a refinance could be worthwhile

As Calabria said, many higher-income homeowners probably already refinanced, or are currently refinancing their mortgages to take advantage of the low rates on offer.

Meanwhile, lots of lower income borrowers haven’t for one reason or another, perhaps because they’re not aware of the potential savings or had a bad experience with a mortgage lender in the past.

Whatever the reason, those who haven’t yet and meet the income requirement can take advantage of a refinance without the pesky adverse market fee.

That means they could get a mortgage rate maybe .125% lower than other borrowers who aren’t eligible for this program.

Additionally, they’ll get a $500 home appraisal credit from the lender, assuming the transaction doesn’t already qualify for an appraisal waiver.

Either way, eligible homeowners won’t have to pay for the appraisal, which is another plus to save on the refinance itself via lower closing costs.

It’s actually a great deal for those who haven’t refinanced yet because you might wind up with an even lower mortgage rate and reduced closing costs.

And because your new mortgage payment must be at least $50 cheaper per month, there’s less likelihood of it being a meaningless refinance.

All in all, this is good news for the so-called low-income homeowners who’ve yet to refinance, but bittersweet for everyone else.

Still, mortgage rates remain very attractive for everyone, so even if you have to pay the adverse market fee (and the appraisal fee), it could be well worth your while.

The FHFA said the new refinance option will be available to eligible borrowers beginning this summer, though it’s unclear exactly what date that is as of now.

Read more: When to a refinance a mortgage.


Wells Fargo Hired 5,000 Employees to Handle Mortgage Workload

Last updated on August 9th, 2013


San Francisco-based bank and mortgage lender Wells Fargo reportedly hired 5,000 employees to handle its ever-increasing mortgage workload, according to Bloomberg.

Wells Fargo CFO Howard Atkins said in an interview that the bank increased staff over the past couple of months to process its record haul of mortgage applications, which made it the top mortgage lender over Bank of America/Countrywide.

The company originated $101 billion in first mortgages during the first quarter, more than double the $50 billion in the fourth quarter and nearly half the $230 billion for all of 2008.

The correspondent/wholesale channel contributed $49 billion to that, practically double the levels seen in earlier quarters; home equity lines and loans, however, totaled just $1 billion.

All those applications led to the best mortgage origination quarter since 2003, contributing to the company’s record $3.05 billion net income in the first quarter.

But what happens once mortgage rates rise and refinance dries up, pushing volume back to more historical levels?

Sure it’s great that the bank took on thousands looking for work, but it seems to be only temporary employment.

And it’s wonderful that they’re upping their fulfillment areas, but what about staff in the company’s loss mitigation department?

“We remain focused on proactively identifying problem credits, moving them to nonperforming status and recording the loss content in a timely manner,” said Chief Credit Officer Mike Loughlin in a release.

“We’ve increased and will continue to increase staffing in our workout and collection organizations to ensure these troubled borrowers receive the attention and help they need.”

I doubt they’ve hired many employees in their workout and collection units, as they seem pretty focused on bringing in all those new mortgages with the low mortgage rates.

Shares of Wells Fargo were up $1.24, or 6.59%, to $20.05 in midday trading on Wall Street.

(photo: jasontester)

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 15 years.


Medical Collections Killing Refinance Frenzy?


Everyone knows mortgage rates have plummeted in recent weeks, but what does that actually mean for those looking to refinance?

With tough guidelines in place and flagging property values, it could equate to a lot of spinning wheels and paperwork.

And one mortgage banker is arguing that erroneous medical collections showing up on potential borrowers’ credit reports are throwing another wrench in the deal.

“The tragedy is that the collection accounts, even those that have been paid in full, are lowering these individuals’ credit scores, often to the point that they either can’t qualify for a loan, or will have to pay higher interest rates if they do,” said Rodney Anderson of Rodney Anderson Lending Services.

According to Anderson, 45 percent of the 1,701 loan applications his company received between June and September involved borrowers with at least one medical collection.

And these collections can kill an applicant’s credit score (whether legitimate or not), even if the remainder of their credit profile is sound, eliminating the possibility of any mortgage rate relief.

Anderson noted that medical billing is “notoriously error-prone,” and as a result, has launched a petition to lessen the severity of medical collection-related credit dings, which he says can lower credit scores more than 100 points.

The petition essentially calls for a new federal law mandating the removal of a medical collection from a borrower’s credit report within 30 days of it being paid or settled, instead of it kicking around for seven years.

Medical billing is certainly an area that needs to be looked at, but the whole credit reporting industry is in need of some serious revamping, and could easily be blamed for a share of the mess were in now.

(photo: paulkeleher)

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 15 years.


Senator McCain Unveils Mortgage Refinance Plan


U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful John McCain delivered a speech today at a small business roundtable in Brooklyn, unveiling his so-called “HOME” plan to tackle the ongoing housing crisis.

McCain applauded recent bipartisan efforts aimed at easing the mortgage crisis, but offered up his own solution that seems to be an amalgam of suggestions conjured up by the likes of the Senators Frank and Dodd and the Treasury.

It essentially allows good borrowers who fell behind on their mortgage payments to refinance into more affordable, federally guaranteed 30-year fixed mortgages while restructuring any debts if they’re upside down.

So mortgage lenders would need to voluntarily write down principal if borrowers were underwater, and any profit from a subsequent sale would be split amongst the lender, the borrower, and the government.

McCain also called on financial institutions to follow suit and get their balance sheets in order while shoring up capital, and said the DOJ must crack down on alleged abusers and bring justice to those who contributed to the housing mess.

That said, it’s likely the HOME loan program will only be available for those borrowers who filled out loan applications honestly, without fudging income and asset numbers (debt-to-income ratio) to get more house than they could afford.

It’s not really a new concept, but McCain’s version could be less of a “bailout” if he chooses to focus solely on those who were led astray by mortgage brokers, loan officers, banks, and lenders.

In related news, the Senate voted 84-12 in approval of the controversial bipartisan housing bill.

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 15 years.


MBA Ups 2009 Mortgage Forecast by $800 Billion


More good news…for loan originators.  The Mortgage Bankers Association increased its 2009 mortgage lending forecast by $800 billion to $2.78 trillion thanks to the expected refinance bonanza.

The group now expects refinancing to total $1.96 trillion in 2009 and purchase originations to ring in at $821 billion.

The refinance figure is up from an estimated $765 billion in 2008, while purchase money mortgage originations were actually revised downward from $851 billion, below the 2008 estimate of $854 billion.

Total originations could rise to the fourth-highest level on record (behind only 2002, 2003, 2005), thanks to an unprecedented drop in interest rates, spurred by the Fed’s move to scoop up mortgage-backed securities and treasuries.

“While the Fed has not announced that it is targeting specific rates for either 10-year Treasury rates or rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, the effect of having the Fed bid in the market for a sustained period is enough to create a refinance incentive for a tremendous number of homeowners,” said Jay Brinkmann, the MBA’s chief economist.

“The vast majority of mortgages originated before the latter part of 2008 are probably going to have at least a 50 basis point refinance incentive for at least the next several months, with mortgage rates hitting lows not seen since the early 1950s and late 1940s.”

Of course, only borrowers with home equity, solid credit scores, and verifiable income will be be able to take advantage of the low, low mortgage rates.

Underwater borrowers will still be left out in the cold, and jumbo loan-holders will have a more difficult time securing financing, though Bank of America is reportedly rolling out a new program to facilitate such deals.

Another concern is the capacity to deal with the increase in refinance transactions, as staff levels were cut to match soft demand last year, coupled with the fact that many warehouse lenders have pulled out.

Loan originations this year will be “almost entirely” backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the FHA, in contrast to previous record origination years dominated by jumbo and subprime loans.

(photo: mattmcgee)

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 15 years.


Bank of America Refinancing Under Making Home Affordable Program

Last updated on February 2nd, 2018


Bank of America said today it has begun processing refinance applications under the Treasury’s “Making Home Affordable” program, with nearly 200,000 customers contacting the company to determine eligibility.

“Combined with historically low interest rates, this program has generated significant interest from borrowers seeking the benefit of lower mortgage payments,” said Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America Mortgage, Home Equity and Insurance Services, in a release.

“We are proud to be one of the first lenders to take loans from application to closing under the Treasury’s plan, providing the opportunity for more Americans to save money on their monthly mortgage payments and supporting efforts to stabilize the nation’s housing market.”

However, the bank seems to be focused on specific applicants, namely those with Bank of America or Countrywide serviced loans and no mortgage insurance on their current loans.

The bank said additional customers will be served “as systems become operational.”

In the next two weeks, the company expects to begin offering trial loan modifications under the Treasury Department’s “Home Affordable Modification” program, and has extended its foreclosure moratorium on potentially eligible loans until April 30.

Bank of America, since snatching up former top mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, services roughly one out of five mortgages in the United States.

I’ve been told by my friends in the industry that Bank of America has been offering mortgage rates much lower than the competition, effectively pricing out them out in the process.

The company is also planning to roll out a jumbo mortgage program focused on loan amounts between $730,000 and $1.5 million, with 30-year fixed mortgage rates beginning in the upper five-percent range.

Apparently there are profits to be made in mortgage.

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 15 years.


Rate and Term Refis Reduce Mortgage Payments by Billions

Last updated on November 30th, 2011


Cash out refinancing hit its lowest point since late 2003 last quarter, but that’s not necessarily bad news.

During the second quarter, just 38 percent of refinances resulted in loan sizes five percent or higher than the previous balance, while 16 percent resulted in a lower loan amount, according to Freddie Mac.

That compares to 43 percent and 13 percent, respectively, a quarter earlier, meaning more borrowers are obtaining lower mortgage rates without sucking out home equity (that’s a good thing).

“A big part of the benefit of refinancing is the lower monthly payment that borrowers enjoy – the payment savings from ‘rate-and-term’ refinancing done during the quarter is about $160 a month on a $200,000 loan,” said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft, in a statement.

“But these borrowers also accumulate principal faster than they would have with a higher-rate loan even after taking into account the longer terms of the new loans. In aggregate, second-quarter refinancers will have about $200 million additional principal paydown after a year than they would have under their old loans.”

In total, refinances carried out during the second quarter will reduce mortgage payments by $3.4 billion over the coming year, providing relief for many on the brink.

Half of the borrowers who refinanced their loan over the past three months lowered their mortgage rate by at least 20 percent, with the new rate about 1.25 percentage points below the old rate.

The lack of cash out refinancing was attributed to both stricter guidelines for such lending and a lack of available equity to draw from.

Rates are still historically low, but not at the record low levels seen back in April.

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 15 years.


Home Affordable Refinance Program Extended


Despite ongoing criticism and a number of recent bills aimed at ending several government mortgage assistance programs, the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has been extended by one year, per the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The FHFA announced Friday that HARP’s original expiration date of June 30 of this year would be pushed back to June 30, 2012.

Additionally, Freddie Mac will exempt HARP mortgages from their recently announced pricing adjustments and Fannie Mae will conform their eligibility date to May 2009.

Through 2010, government mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchased or guaranteed more than 6.8 million refinanced mortgages.

Of these, 621,803 were HARP refinances with loan-to-value ratios between 80 percent and 125 percent.

This total is up from 190,180 in 2009, when HARP first began.

HARP allows those with underwater mortgages (up to 125% loan-to-value) owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to refinance to take advantage of the historically low mortgage rates on offer.

The loan program actually seems pretty worthwhile, given the fact homeowners must be current on their mortgage payments and demonstrate the ability to repay their mortgages.

The Home Affordable Modification Program, which makes up the other half of the Making Home Affordable Program, is expected to be on the chopping block later this week, mainly because of poor performance (HAMP will only prevent 700,000 foreclosures) and high costs.

Of course, such bills to halt the program are likely just political, as President Obama has already noted that bills to end similar programs would be vetoed if they happened to make it to his desk.

The only possibility could be some fine-tuning to the existing programs, but even that is doubtful.

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 15 years.


Is the Refinance Boom Finally Over?


Refinance demand fell for the sixth straight week, indicating an end to the boom that began in early 2009, according to the latest survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Overall, mortgage application volume was off 18.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis during the week ending December 17.

On an unadjusted basis, it was 20.0 percent lower than one week earlier.

The refinance index plummeted 24.6 percent to its lowest level since April 30, while the seasonally adjusted purchase mortgage index decreased 2.5 percent.

The unadjusted purchase index was off 4.9 percent compared with the previous week and 8.4 percent lower than the same week a year ago.

“Refinance application volume dropped sharply this week as mortgage rates held near six month highs,” said Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics, in a release.

“Purchase applications fell for a second week, with the level of applications little changed over the past month, indicating that home sales are likely to remain relatively weak over the next few months.”

Meanwhile, mortgage rates were little changed, with the popular 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.85 percent, up from 4.84 percent a week earlier.

The 15-year fixed climbed to 4.22 percent from 4.21 percent, and the MBA no longer tracks the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage, which fell out of favor with borrowers long ago.

The mortgage rates above are good for mortgages at 80 percent loan-to-value – but pricing adjustments can lower or raise your actual interest rate.

Keep in mind the MBA’s weekly survey covers more than half of all retail, residential loan applications, but does not factor out duplicate or rejected apps, which have surely risen since the mortgage crisis got underway a few years back.

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 15 years.


FHA Refinance Applications Plummet in November

Last updated on November 30th, 2011


FHA refinance loan volume fell 29.9 percent from October to November, according to a FHA Single-Family Outlook released recently by HUD.

A total of 69,062 FHA loan applications were received for refinance purposes, down from 98,544 a month prior, and well below the 112,095 seen the same time last year.

It looks to be another sign that the refinance boom is quickly running out of steam, despite mortgage rates remaining relatively close to historic lows.

The popular 30-year fixed mortgage actually hit its lowest point during the week ending November 11, at a staggering 4.17 percent, but many homeowners probably already took advantage of the low rates beforehand.

Meanwhile, purchase money mortgage applications totaled 63,920, down 6.9 percent from October and 26.6 percent from the 87,142 seen a year earlier.

Reverse mortgages were down just 0.4 percent month-to-month to 8,217, but up a whopping 25 percent from the 6,571 applications seen in November 2009.

Perhaps the recent warning from Consumer Reports will, ahem, reverse that trend.

FHA endorsed a total of 131,258 mortgages for $26.1 billion in November, and as of the end of the month, had 6,745,827 cases in-force with an unpaid balance of $921 billion.

During the month, there were 588,947 FHA loans in serious default (90 days + delinquent).

The default rate jumped to 8.7 percent from 8.0 percent a month earlier, though it was attributed to a reporting problem with some smaller mortgage lenders.

And it’s still 0.6 percent lower than the 9.3 percent default rate seen a year ago.

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 15 years.