Home Buyers Don’t Grasp ‘Mortgage Basics’

Many Americans begin looking for a home to buy without understanding the fundamentals of applying for a mortgage or what it takes to qualify for one, according to a new survey by Ally Home, a direct-to-consumer mortgage business.

Ninety-two percent of the more than 2,000 U.S. adults who responded to the survey admit they don’t know how much mortgage they can afford. Further, most say they’re confused about “rates” versus “points,” and only a third have a general idea of what their average closing costs might be. Only 8 percent are aware that the maximum debt-to-income ratio is usually 43 percent; most respondents believe it’s significantly lower or don’t know at all.

Ally Home is touting its free Mortgage Playbook, a resource that covers the basics of applying for a home loan. The book uses sports jargon to outline the mortgage application process, covering topics such as how to improve your financial fitness prior to applying for a loan, how to evaluate rate and points options, and how loan rates are determined.

Source: Ally Financial

It’s Taking Less to Get an FHA Home Loan

First-time and low-income mortgage borrowers may have an easier time qualifying for a Federal Housing Administration loan. Ginnie Mae, a government agency that issues bonds backed by FHA loans, reports that the average credit score on FHA-backed loans fell to 680 in 2013, and the average debt-to-income ratio rose to 40.3 percent — both indicators that credit may be easing.

In comparison, Ginnie Mae reported in January 2013 that the average credit score was 701 and the debt-to-income ratio was 38 percent.

“The FHA theoretically allows credit scores as low as 580,” the L.A. Times reports. “But lenders, buffeted by defaulted loans and demands that they buy back troubled mortgages that they sold, generally have set standards higher since the mortgage meltdown.”

Source: “Average Credit Score Falls on FHA Loans,” Los Angeles Times (Feb. 27, 2014)

Student Debt Pushes Homes Out of Reach

While college-educated workers usually pull down higher incomes than those who do not obtain a post-secondary degree, a new report indicates that many new college graduates will be unable to obtain a mortgage because their student loans will push their debt-to-income ratio too high.

Student loan debt soared to $1 trillion this year. The report from Young Invincibles, “Denied? The Impact of Student Debt on the Ability to Buy a Home,” found that today’s college graduates are actually worse off than previous generations, financially speaking. The authors estimate the average 30-year-old college graduate looking to purchase a home would need to spend about half of his or her monthly income on mortgage, student loan, credit card, and car payments, leaving them ineligible for many home loans, including those guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration.

“As education debt grows, it pushes more borrowers out of the housing market, potentially adding another drag to an economy only just emerging from the Great Recession,” said Rory O’Sullivan, policy director at Young Invincibles.

The report does not factor in credit scores or down payments, which also greatly affect mortgage attainability. Please provide your thoughts.

Source: “Student Debt Pushes Homes Out of Reach,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (08/21/12)