Home loan closing costs on the rise

09-11
Home prices and mortgage rates aren’t the only costs on the rise when it comes to buying a house these days. Expect higher closings costs as well, according to a new study by Bankrate.com.

The average closing cost, which includes origination plus third-party fees, is $2,402, up 6 percent from last year.

Lenders appear to be boosting fees before the rise in mortgage rates turns borrowers off and makes it harder for lenders to attract new customers, a George Mason University real estate and finance expert told Bankrate.

“”They know when rates go up, loan applications plunge, so they are trying to generate more earnings on anticipation of lower application volume and lower profits,” Anthony Sanders said.

Lenders say the increased costs reflect more federal regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Bankrate looked at origination and third-party fees. Origination fees include items such as points, a calculation used to compensate loan officers; and payments for the loan application, other document preparation, loan processing and broker or originator fees. Third-party fees include payments for such items as the appraisal, closing attorney, inspections and surveys.

Bankrate, however, said not all lenders include all of the fees, and actual closing costs are probably much higher because its analysis did not account for the most highly variable costs, such as title insurance, title search, taxes and other government fees and escrow fees.

Bankrate asked up to 10 lenders in each state plus Washington, D.C., to provide good-faith estimates for a $200,000 mortgage loan on a single-family house in a state’s largest city, and for a borrower with excellent credit who was putting up 20 percent in for a down payment. Banks are required to disclose all fees on the good-faith estimate.

Bankrate ranked Georgia fourth in costliest closing costs in the South behind No. 1 South Carolina, No. 2 North Carolina; and No. 3 Florida.

Nationally, Hawaii had the highest average closing costs ($2,919), followed by Alaska ($2,675), S.C. ($2,658); California ($2,639) and New Mexico ($2,566). Such costs were cheapest in Wisconsin ($2,119), Missouri ($2,188), Kansas ($2,193), Michigan ($2,203) and Washington ($2,208).

The rise in closing costs mirrors similar increases in home prices and mortgage rates.

Experts advise homebuyers to shop around for the best rates and closing fees, and get a good faith estimate, which will allow consumers to see all fees associated with the loan.

(Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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More than 8 million homeowners are ‘resurfacing’

9-10
Portending relief for inventory-starved housing markets in the not-so-distant future, 8.3 million homeowners, or about 18 percent of homeowners with mortgages, will gain enough equity to sell their homes in the next 15 months without resorting to short sales, according to data aggregator RealtyTrac.

“Steadily rising home prices are lifting all boats in this housing market and should spill over into more inventory of homes for sale in the coming months,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“Homeowners who already have ample equity are quickly building on that equity, while the 8.3 million homeowners on the fence with little or no equity are on track to regain enough equity to sell before 2015 if home prices continue to increase at the rate of 1.33 percent per month that they have since bottoming out in March 2012.”

The 8.3 million “resurfacing” homeowners currently have anywhere from 10 percent negative equity to 10 percent positive equity, according to RealtyTrac’s September report on home equity.

Though a homeowner with low equity is not technically underwater, that borrower still typically faces more difficulty in selling a home than a homeowner with more equity because the proceeds of a low-equity sale may not be enough to adequately contribute to sales-related costs and a down payment on a new home.

But even as a giant swath of homeowners are expected to resurface, an even larger segment reportedly won’t come up for air anytime soon. Some 10.7 million homes have at least 25 percent negative equity or more, representing 23 percent of properties with a mortgage, according to RealtyTrac.

That’s down from 11.3 million in May 2013 and 12.5 million in September 2012, the firm said.

The report also found that 1 in 4 homeowners in foreclosure has positive equity, meaning those owners have a better chance of selling their homes before foreclosure proceedings conclude.

That’s “assuming they realize they have equity and don’t miss the opportunity to leverage that equity,” Blomquist said.

(Source: inmanNEWS)

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For short-sellers, some good news

9.09
Policy changes by two of the biggest players in the mortgage market could open doors to home purchases this fall by thousands of people who were hard hit by the housing bust and who thought they’d have to wait for years before owning again.

Fannie Mae, the federally controlled mortgage investor, has come up with a “fix” designed to help large numbers of consumers whose short sales were misidentified as foreclosures by the national credit bureaus. Under previous rules, short-sellers would have to wait for up to seven years before becoming eligible for a new mortgage to buy a house. Under the revised plan, they may be able to qualify for a mortgage in as little as two years. Homeowners who are foreclosed upon generally must still wait for up to seven years before becoming eligible again to finance a house through Fannie. Industry estimates suggest that more than 2 million short-sellers might be affected by credit bureaus’ inaccurate descriptions of their transactions.

Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has announced a new program allowing borrowers whose previous mortgage troubles were caused by “extenuating circumstances” beyond their control to obtain new mortgages in as little as a year after losing their homes instead of the current three years. They will need to show that their delinquency problem was caused by an income drop of 20 percent or greater that continued for at least six months, and that they are now “back to work,” paying their bills on time and earning enough to qualify for a new FHA-insured mortgage.

Fannie Mae’s policy change came after months of prodding by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the National Consumer Reporting Association, the National Association of Realtors and Pam Marron, an outspoken consumer advocate in Florida. They all sought fairer treatment of borrowers who had participated in short sales in recent years. Marron, a mortgage broker, spotted the erroneous reporting of short sales on credit reports and mounted a campaign to correct the problem.

In a short sale, the lender approves the sale of a house to a new buyer but typically receives less than the balance owed. In a foreclosure, the bank takes title to the property and seeks to recover whatever it can through a resale. Though the two types of transactions are distinct and involve significantly different losses for banks — foreclosures are far more costly on average — the nation’s major credit bureaus have no special reporting code to identify short sales. As a result, critics say, millions of people who have undertaken short sales in recent years may have their transactions coded as foreclosures on their credit bureau reports.

That matters — a lot — because Fannie Mae and other major financing sources have mandated different waiting periods for new loans to borrowers who have completed short sales compared with borrowers who were foreclosed upon — in this case, two years vs. seven. Under the new policy, which takes effect Nov. 16, short-sellers who find that their transactions were miscoded on their credit reports and are able to put 20 percent down should alert their loan officers and provide documentation on their transaction. The loan officer should advise Fannie Mae about the credit report coding error. Fannie will then run the loan application through its revised automated underwriting system.

Freddie Mac, the other government-administered mortgage investor, continues to require a four-year waiting period for short-sellers who cannot demonstrate “extenuating circumstances” as having caused their problems. If they can do so — documenting income reductions beyond their control that wrecked their credit — they may be able to qualify for a new Freddie Mac loan in two years.

FHA’s policy change may prove to be an even more generous deal for some previous homeowners. Like Freddie Mac, FHA wants to see hard evidence of what economic events beyond the borrowers’ control — loss of a job, serious illness or death of a wage earner, for example — led to the delinquency or loss of the house. Applicants must be able to show 12 months of solid credit behavior, participate in a housing counseling program and get through the agency’s underwriting hoops. But unlike with either Fannie or Freddie, if you qualify under FHA’s revised rules, which are now in effect, and your lender approves, you might be able to buy a house with a new, low-down-payment mortgage in as little as a year.

It’s worth checking out.

(Source: The Washington Post)

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