Government to step in with new refinance options?

Minneapolis, MN: Many reports have surfaced recently that the government is seriously considering a wide range of ideas to assist consumers in refinancing their homes loans owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to take advantage of today’s amazing low interest rates. For a variety of reason, mostly to due to negative equity or current tighter credit underwriting guidelines, large numbers of these homeowners have been left to the sidelines.

As a Loan Officer, I have never fully understood some of the silliness in some underwriting guidelines, and have a few suggestions.

If Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (you and I since the government took the over during the peek of the credit crunch) already “own your loan”, you are current with your payments, and your basic financial position is OK, what does it matter if your home is underwater? They already own the the loan, and have all the risk. Wouldn’t lowering their payment reduce the risk and simply make sense?

While allowing these people to refinance, I would add one rule…  That being that you couldn’t “go backwards”. In other words, if the homeowner currently has a 30-yr fixed mortgage with 26-year remaining, they would not be allowed to have a new loan longer than 26-years.

While it is little know, and even less used as most people select a very traditional 15-yr, 20-yr, or 30-year mortgage, many mortgage lenders (including us) allow you to select any number of years you wish. If you want a 17-yr fixed, or the aforementioned 26-yr fixed, no problem. We can do that.

For FHA loan holders, a quick, immediate fix is possible to help those people refinance by simply changing a mortgage insurance rule. Allow people with existing FHA loans to refinance with their current mortgage insurance rate.

Everyday I speak with homeowners with FHA loans, where I could easily lower their interest rate by 1% – 1.5%, but it makes no financial sense for them to do it.

FHA loans all have mortgage insurance. Up until recently, the cost of the insurance, which is included in their monthly payment, was just 0.55% of their loan amount. A simple way to understand the cost, is on a $200,000 mortgage loan, the insurance costs $110 per month.

Last year, FHA increased the insurance to 1.15%. So on the same $200,000 loan, the monthly cost is now $230! YIKES. The higher insurance cost eats up most, if not all of their potential monthly savings, leaving many FHA homeowners unable to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates.

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