3 Trends to Drive the Mortgage Market in 2018
It may seem
early for 2018 predictions but Freddie Mac's Economic and Housing Research
Group are out with their forecast for next year.
the economic environment to remain favorable for housing and mortgage markets,
with moderate economic growth of about two percent, solid job gains, and low
mortgage interest rates.
three trends driving the 2018 mortgage market:
They further say: Increases in the volume of purchase
mortgages will be the result of modest gains in both home sales and home price
growth. Thus far in 2017, home sales are the highest in a decade, but are
unlikely to grow by much going forward.
Inventory problems will continue to limit sales in the
short term and longer-term trends like the aging of the population and
declining mobility across all age groups will hold down existing home
Anticipated increases in mortgage rates will slow down
refinance activity. The primary reasons for refinancing are: to obtain lower
rates; shorten the term of the loan; and, to obtain additional cash to remodel,
consolidate debt, or pay off student loans.
Chart of National Home Appreciation Rates 2000 – 2018
Looser Underwriting Guidelines?
It’s taken a while but the
pendulum is swinging back to a much more reasonable happy-medium when it comes
to underwriting guidelines. We all know that it was practically non-existent underwriting
criteria that led to the collapse of the mortgage and financial markets several
years ago. Then, the pendulum swung so far the other way that it seemed almost
impossible to get approved for a mortgage. Now, things have become more reasonable.
Some are even saying it might be too loose again.
Regardless of your opinion, here are
some of the more recent changes that are making it easier to qualify for a
mortgage. Keep in mind that these changes pertain to “conforming” loans
originated by lenders and sold to the Government agencies known as Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac. Therefore, it pertains to almost all loans originated by any
lender with loan limits up to $636,150 in the highest priced markets such as
Orange and Los Angeles counties and most of the Bay Area counties in
Here’s a quick summary of some of
Less Self-Employment Documentation:
In some instances, self-employed
borrowers can now be approved with just 1-year of tax returns instead of 2 years.
Higher Debt-To-Income (DTI) Ratios
Applicants with compensating factors
may now receive approvals with a Debt-To-Income ratio up to 50%. Previously, the
cutoff was 45%.
Lower Down Payments/Higher Loan-To-Value Ratio’s
There are programs allowing as
little as 3% down.
In certain refinance transaction,
the appraisal can be waived altogether, saving the borrower hundreds of
dollars. We will see this apply to Purchase transactions soon too.
If a borrower disputed certain
information in their credit report, we used to have to get those disputes cleared,
adding to the time and effort it took to receive loan approvals. This is no
longer the case.
Lower Credit Scores:
Many lenders have lowered their
minimum FICO scores for qualifying. The minimum score allowed by Fannie
Mae/Freddie Mac remains 620 but lenders often impose their own higher limit. Lower
limits may be a result of lender trying to increase their lending volume as the
number of refinance and purchase loans have slowed down this year.
Keep in mind that these changes
do not pertain to all loans and all lenders. Each lender has the right to
create their own stricter guidelines than what The Government Agencies permit. But,
these changes do apply to most of the lenders that we work with.
Give us a call to see how they impact your particular situation.
was recently quoted in an article by the Los Angeles Times (click here to read article) about the simplified mortgage application process being
touted first by Quicken Loans' "Rocket Mortgage" and now by
LoanDepot. Do they really have something faster and unique or is it just
another way of utilizing the technology that we all have at our
I'm going to take a cynical view. When you break it down, it's
really nothing special! I already have the same technology available as a
mortgage broker and I believe I can process a loan faster than these two
How Does It
Perhaps the biggest complaint among borrowers in recent years is the
amount of paperwork that it takes to properly process a loan. Every
page of every bank statement, two years of income history including tax
returns, W-2's, current paystubs, recent mortgage statements and
on and on. In an effort to streamline the process, reduce the
burden on borrowers and, to take advantage of new technology, Fannie Mae
has introduced a system whereby the lender, rather than from the
borrower, can obtain certain documents directly from banks and employers,
bypassing the borrower, with their permission of course. Many
lenders have already updated their internal systems to access this
documentation directly from the source.
Does It Work?
Yes, it works for the simple borrower. I'm talking about borrowers
that are employed, salaried and get paid the same with each paycheck.
And there is no significant moving around of their down payment
money, no gift funds, etc. In other words, borrowers with
self-employment, multiple sources of down payment funds, etc., probably
Does It Save
The early feedback says "no". What I hear from a friend
that originates loans at one of the call centers at Loan Depot, it
can take a week or two to get the documentation needed from the banks and
employers. But, I can always get what I need from my salaried
borrowers in a day or two. And tech-savvy millennials can get it to
me in a minute or two. Additionally, many borrowers in our
California market are more complex with multiple sources of income,
self-employed, etc. I wouldn't leave obtaining and analyzing even
slightly complex files to technology and unskilled processors.
I've learned over the 40+ years of experience that the "personal
touch" is needed when clients are making probably the biggest
purchase of their lives by getting a mortgage. Explaining the
process, explaining why certain documentation is needed and holding their
hand throughout the process is important. If it's a purchase
transaction I can't imagine trusting the details to a faceless internet
that the initital post-election shock is over, what are rates doing?
You'll recall that we had an immediate .75% rise in mortgage
rates following the presidential election. Optimism over the
expectation of a stronger Trump-led economy, higher inflation, the
assumption that the Fed may raise the Federal Funds Rate three times in
2017 and a super-strong positive reaction in the stock market all led to
But, as with most news events, the initial reaction was an over-reaction
and the markets seem to be settling down. Mortgage rates have come
down about .25% and the market seems to have adjusted to what will
probably be a mortgage rate range in the low 4% area for the next few
Here's a look at the trend of rates for the past 12 months.
Fannie Mae's chief economist, Doug
Duncan, says that rising interest rates will not stop home prices from
increasing. Duncan claims that as long a income is growing,
home prices will grow, irrespective of interest rates.
Retirees Shouldn't Overlook Reverse Mortgages
Buying a new home with a reverse
mortgage is an often overlooked strategy by retirees who could
potentially benefit from borrowing against their home equity instead of
raiding their savings to cover the purchase price with a traditional
mortgage, according to a recent article from U.S. News & World
Many consumers, and even real estate agents, are unaware of the program
or describe reverse mortgages as being useful only for those who cannot
get a regular mortgage on thier own. For retirees who want to
remain homeowners, but not in thier current homes, the article notes that
a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, i.e., Reverse Mortgage, may help ease
the financial pain of the purchase.
originating Reverse Mortgages for 12 years now. I've seen lots fo
changes in the program, particularly in recent years, and the most recent
changes have been to the benefit of the borrower. Financial advisors have
embraced the product as an excellent financial planning tool
now. Please give me a call to learn more.
week I wrote about the Trump Effect on mortgage rates as we've seen about
a .50% rise in mortgage rates since the morning of the election. If you
missed it, here is a link:
I'd also like to thank the many people that sent such positive feedback
on the article. I always welcome your comments.
The stock market continues to enjoy the "Trump Bump" with the
S&P 500 up over 3% since the election as money managers rotate funds
from bonds (including Mortgage-Backed Securities) to stocks when the
stock market is rising.
Optimism over an improved economy under the Trump Administration is not
the only factor that influences mortgage rates. The potential for
inflation and the future decisions by the Fed are also weighing on
interest rates right now too.
Review the information below for a better understanding of what drives
been a few weeks since the election and you would think that the
financial markets would be settling down. But, so far that does not
seem to be the case.
What Was Expected?
While the election was thought to be close, the financial markets were
clearly expecting a Clinton victory. To the financial guru's, that
meant continued heavy entitlements, higher taxes, low GDP growth, low
inflation and the possibility of a recession in 2017. All of this
led to ultra-low interest rates. Prior to the election, mortgage
rates were around 3.5% for the benchmark 30-year fixed rate
As we all know now, Trump won and, it surprised the market makers.
Now, if Trump's Republican Congress gets their way, we
should see lower taxes - both personal and corporate taxes; no more 3.8%
Obamacare tax; less regulation; and fiscal stimulus that has so far been
absent from the weak recovery over the last eight years.
Based on the above, money quickly moved out bonds, including
Mortgage-Backed Securities, and into US stocks. The move out of
bonds was particularly large with mortgage rates rising .50% or more!
What is Likely to
Was the rise in mortgage rates too much too fast? Was it an
over-reaction? Only time will tell. The Mortgage Bankers
Association of America (MBA) predicts the interest rate for a 30-year
fixed rate mortgage will average 4.2% in 2017, increasing gradually from
this year's average of 3.5%. It also expects the Federal Reserve
will raise the federal funds rate in December and three more times in
also forecast an increase in home-buying in 2017 as due to the potential
for higher home prices and higher rates.
The next Fed meeting is December 14th. They are expected to raise
the Federal Funds Rate by .25%. That is almost a certainty.
My guess is that they won't give any hints about possible future
rate hikes yet. It's just too soon to tell what the Trump Effect
will be despite the optimism over his intentions and a faster-improving
economy. I do think that most of the damage is done for
now. And, maybe it will settle somewhere between the lows just prior
to the election and where they stand for now.
It is important to remember that mortgage rates can and do change daily
and they react instantly to financial news and speculation. The
recent rise in interest rates assumes this already is already happening;
therefore; rates can only rise so far before getting too far ahead of the
Here is a look at the weekly Freddie Mac Survey of
Mortgage Rates this year:
Everybody is talking about the Fed’s next move and what that means for rates for the rest of this year and beyond. I guess I can’t help but talk about it too.
The problem is that nobody knows and it seems even harder than ever right now to predict the outcome. Not even the heads of the Government enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac agree. And their predictions don’t match the chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association either.
First, let’s take a look at their forecast, announced just last week at a national conference in New York:
· Fannie Mae forecasts a flat to slightly declining rate environment for the next 2 years with rates hovering around 3.7% for the standard 30-year fixed rate mortgage with loan amounts up to the national limit of $417,000.
· Freddie Mac believes rates will rise to about 4.08%
· The MBA predicts an average rate of 3.95%.
Granted, it’s not a huge difference between the low and the high predictions and rates have remained in a very low historical range for over 8 years now. But small differences and borrower perceptions make a big difference in the volume of home sales and mortgage applications.
And there are factors beside the Fed Reserve that are influencing the markets now such as; the rate of economic growth, the Presidential election, housing inventory, and more.
Rates today according to the weekly Freddie Mac rate survey are at 3.64% with an average cost of .5 points.
NBC Nightly News Spotlights Reverse Mortgages
I’ve been originating Reverse Mortgages for many years but the growth in this product has increased dramatically this year. That’s because various news outlets have reported on reverse mortgages and the program changes that have now made these loan products safer and more effective retirement planning tools. Perhaps none, however, have given reverse mortgages such an enormous viewership platform as a recent NBC Nightly News segment that aired this month.
Click Here to see the news clip:
Highlights of the report:
Having originated Reverse Mortgages for over 10 years, I agree that it is a much more desirable product. In fact, many of my clients have utilized the Line of Credit feature which requires no initial draw and grows in value over time.
I now have a Jumbo Reverse Mortgage Product too that allows loan amounts as high as $3,000,000
If you think you or someone you know might benefit from a Reverse Mortgage feel free to call me for a free consultation and presentation.
Financial tech is growing in popularity but when it comes to
mortgage advice, a traditional approach wins hands down. A recent
poll found that while most people seek information online for recipes (79%)
and medical advice (75%), only (32%) trust the internet with their finances.
Having a great website can help attract clients, but when it comes to
mortgage advice 70% of respondents said they would talk to an advisor
before pursuing financial advice. That beats financial websites
(41%), parents/family (36%) and real estate agents (25%).
What Turns Them Off?
About 50% said the glut of information online puts them off and although
89% feel it is easier to find information they need online rather than seek
it out from other sources, an overwhelming 73% say even though the
information is helpful, they will still always seek advice from an expert.
In my 40 years of mortgage experience, I can assure anyone that only an
"expert" can provide the kind of advice that consumers can depend
on to make what is probably the the largest financial decision of their
life. Mortgage Brokers can not only offer the best expert advice but
also have the largest array of products and services to meet their
Mortgage Brokers took the unfair rap for the bad mortgage
loans that led to the mortgage and financial market meltdown around
2008. But it's the big banks that beat the system the most.
It was recently announced that Wells Fargo will pay the US government $1.2
billion for hiding bad loans ahead of the housing market crash. The
mortgage lender's certification of thousands of loans which were given FHA
insurance led to taxpayers footing the bill when the loans were defaulted.
A statement from Manhattan U. S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:
"Wells Fargo enjoyed huge profits from its FHA loan business,
the government was left holding the bag when the bad loans went bust.
Wells Fargo, one of the biggest mortgage lenders int he world, has been
held responsible for years of reckless underwriting."
Similar settlements have already been reach between the government and
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase.
I’m witnessing an interesting continuance of last years’
trends in mortgage demand over the past few months. So, while nothing is
really new, certain patterns exist that are worth talking about.
The proliferation of Jumbo lenders and products persist – all for the good.
Rates are about the same as they are for their smaller “conforming”
counterparts. More lenders are entering the arena as rates remain low, the
purchase market remains strong, refinance opportunities rise, underwriting
criteria loosens, and the secondary market for securitization of jumbo
This loan product has seen the biggest increase for RTC Mortgage during the
past year for this once unpopular product. The reason is simple: the
Reverse Mortgage loan has been re-designed such that it is no longer a
product just for the desperate seniors that are out of money. It is now
considered a valuable financial planning tool that is being endorsed by
financial advisors and accountants that understand and endorse the
benefits. The most popular feature being touted is the Line of Credit that
grows in value over time.
Reverse Mortgages can be used for purchases too. There are too many
features to go over here and with so many options within the Reverse
Mortgage program, everyone’s benefits are different. If you or someone you
know is interested, give me a call and I can easily work up some figures to
demonstrate how it may work for you.
The Domination of Non-Bank Lenders
As mentioned in previous emails, the major banks have lost their large
share of the mortgage market to “Non-Banks, including Mortgage Brokers.
Market share for Non-Banks has grown from a low of 10% in 2007 to 50%. The
reasons are that non-banks have more products; better rates and terms; more
efficient and local service; and usually more expertise among the
Loosening of Underwriting Guidelines
Not only have I seen looser guidelines among the Jumbo lenders but now, the
Government Agencies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have finally loosened
many of the guidelines and restrictions that were imposed during the
mortgage meltdown period around 2008. The underwriting changes are long
overdue but welcomed. If you didn’t qualify before, you may qualify now.
This was the big Regulatory change that was going to delay all loan
closings and scared the heck out of everyone in the business. Now that we
have had some time to adjust, it seems to be working out just fine. That
said, some lenders are much better than others at performing. But as a
broker that can submit loans to many lenders, we know who does a good job
and who doesn’t. With borrowers that are pre-approved in advance, we can
still easily close loans within 30 days.
Commercial Real Estate
Now that I co-own a commercial mortgage company with long-time commercial
lending expert Jeff Redeker, I’m much more aware of commercial real estate
and lending. I’ve read many published articles about the strength of the
commercial market too. Our company is doing well and has financed quite a
few commercial properties including multi-family, offices, restaurants and
more. Beach Cities Commercial and RTC Mortgage are located in the same
office building. Give us a call if you have an interest in financing a
commercial building or business.
Well, the Federal
Reserve finally did it! They raised the target federal funds rate 0.25%, its
first boost in nearly a decade. That does not, however, mean that the
average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage will be a quarter- point higher.
That's not how mortgage rates work.
Mortgage rates follow the yields on mortgage-backed securities which are traded
in the financial markets. The price of these “Mortgage-Backed Securities”,
which are a form of “bond”, change every day and throughout every day, regardless
of the Fed. And, they move in anticipation of what the Fed may do in the
future. They don’t wait for the actual event plus there are many other factors,
domestic and global, that also impact the course of mortgage rates.
As it relates to this week’s rate hike by the Fed, it was expected for a long
time and so was already baked into mortgage rates. We may even see a slight
temporary decline in rates as a result. The Fed’s comments after the
announcement imply that future rate hikes will be slow to come and dependent on
future data. They said this:
"The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal
payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities
in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury
securities at auction, and it anticipates doing so until normalization of the
level of the federal funds rate is well under way." This means that the
Fed will continue to buy Mortgage-Backed Securities as they get paid off on previously
I’m hoping the rate hike will decrease the volatility that has plagued the
market for some time now and allow it to stabilize going forward – until
something else occurs that will move rates or the pricing of Mortgage-Backed
Securities. In the long-run though, mortgage rates are expected to rise over
time next year, particularly if the Fed get more aggressive with future hikes
in the Federal Funds Rate.