Tight Credit Standards Halt Some Buyers

Lenders continue to reject borrowers with otherwise good credit when they diverge from the standard approval checklist.

Would-be borrowers facing the most problems include the self-employed.

One reason bankers are so nervous are the standards held out by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Not only are Fannie and Freddie demanding credit scores above 720, they are refusing to buy back defaults when the original mortgage application had small discrepancies from the norm. To avoid losses, lenders are being extra careful.

The result is that some borrowers are being rejected for problems that seem completely inconsequential.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, James R. Hagerty and Nick Timiraos (07/10/10)

FHA Program Offers Purchase, Renovation Aid

The Federal Housing Administration is encouraging use of its little-known 203(k) loan program.

The 203(k) lets an owner-occupant borrow money for both the purchase and renovation in one loan, and put down only 3.5 percent.

The program requires the use of credentialed contractors and can include cosmetic improvements as well as major renovations like replacing plumbing or electrical. Completing the application process requires patience, says Nancy Hammock, an associate with RE/MAX Properties in Western Springs, Ill.

But in this lending environment, more homebuyers are finding 203(k)s worth the hassle. In fiscal 2008, the government insured about 6,700 of the 203(k) loans. This year, more than 11,000 loans have already been insured, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Mary Ellen Podmolik