3% Down Payment Program May Help Home Buying

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced Monday that first-time home buyers can now qualify for loans with down payments as low as 3 percent. That will expand credit for qualified home shoppers who may have been sidelined the last few years because of higher down-payment requirements, analysts say.

Freddie Mac launched Home Possible Advantage, a conventional mortgage with a 3 percent down-payment requirement geared to low- and moderate-income borrowers. It’s a conventional mortgage with a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 97 percent. To qualify, first-time home buyers are required to participate in a borrower education program.

With Fannie Mae’s 3 percent down-payment offering, borrowers must still meet standard eligibility requirements, including underwriting, income documentation, and risk management standards. Any buyer can take advantage of Fannie’s loans as long as at least one co-borrower is a first-time buyer. Private mortgage insurance may be required.

“Our goal is to help additional qualified borrowers gain access to mortgages,” says Andrew Bon Salle, Fannie Mae executive vice president for single-family underwriting, pricing, and capital markets. “This option alone will not solve all the challenges around access to credit. Our new 97 percent LTV offering is simply one way we are working to remove barriers for creditworthy borrowers to get a mortgage.”

The National Association of REALTORS® applauds the move by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie.

Source: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac