A new article from Brena Swanson, of HousingWire.com, dated 2/22/2016
Bank of America unveiled a new affordable mortgage program that offers consumers the option of putting as little as 3% down and requires no mortgage insurance. The program does not involve the Federal Housing Administration, whose program has recently undergone a lot of scrutiny from big banks.
Bank of America announced a partnership on Monday with Self-Help Ventures Fund andFreddie Mac for its new “Affordable Loan Solution” mortgage, a conforming loan that provides low- and moderate-income homebuyers access to a responsible lending product with counseling at affordable entry prices.
To make the program function, the three companies will work together to help ensure the loan is properly originated and backed in case the loan goes delinquent, the companies said Monday.
For starters, Bank of America said the mortgage will be available through all of its mortgage sales channels.
Self-Help, which is based in Durham, North Carolina, will then buy the loans and servicing rights, along with providing post-closing counseling for any borrowers who might be experiencing payment difficulties.
Since Self-Help is taking the first-loss position, the loans require no mortgage insurance.
Freddie Mac will purchase all of the eligible affordable mortgages originated via the Self-Help and Bank of America partnership, having recently approving Self-Help as a seller/servicer to facilitate the rollout of this offering to borrowers.
The program allows down payments as low as 3% on the purchase of a primary, single-family residence, with no reserve funds required in most situations.
The loan also requires a minimum FICO score of 660, and first-time buyers will need to participate in homebuyer education.
“There is a need in today’s marketplace for more responsible mortgage products that enable creditworthy homebuyers, who meet certain income limits and other requirements, to become homeowners at an affordable entry point with comprehensive counseling,” said D. Steve Boland, consumer lending executive, Bank of America.
“Affordable Loan Solution combines Bank of America’s wide distribution network of mortgage professionals with the borrower support expertise of Self-Help and market liquidity provided by Freddie Mac to provide a new affordable loan option,” said Boland.
The news comes amid a pushback against the FHA, which offers similar style loans, from lenders for its loan requirements.
The FHA, unlike Bank of America’s new program, offers loan options with as little as 3.5% down mortgages, along with 520 FICO score. It’s important to note that the two are not offered together.
As a result, major lenders have pulled away due to the heightened risk of possible enforcement actions on the high-risk loans.
John Shrewsberry, Wells Fargo’s chief financial officer, said last September that the San Francisco bank will not make loans to FHA borrowers with low credit scores because of their higher rates of default.
In addition, Kevin Watters, CEO of Chase Mortgage Banking, said in an interview with CNBC shortly after that the FHA’s loan requirements look an awful lot like subprime lending.
“FHA requirements are down to a 520 FICO (credit score) and you only have to put 3.5% down; that’s subprime lending, and we’re not in the subprime lending business,” CNBC quotes Watters saying.
Quicken Loans is already in the middle of legal battle with the Department of Justice over its FHA loans, which is pushing the nonbank to consider ending its participation in FHA lending entirely, citing the government’s aggressive enforcement policies as the main reason for potentially dropping FHA lending.
Meanwhile, although Bank of America’s loans require no down payment, the loss is covered by Self-Help and borrowers are required to a FICO score of 660.
Self-Help added in a statement to HousingWire that research by the UNC Center for Community Capital has continually proven that, given sound underwriting, low down payments are not a significant factor in mortgage performance. Shutting out borrowers with lower down payments is a missed opportunity for lenders and borrowers alike, Self-Help said.
The research from the UNC Center for Community Capital found that losses on these loans remained relatively low, even during the housing crisis triggered by mass marketing of unaffordable subprime loans.
Bank of America has upped it mortgage lending lately. In its fourth-quarter earnings, the bank reported that total mortgage production grew 13% to $17 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $15 billion last year. This is slightly up from $16.9 billion last quarter.
And during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, when Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, was asked what his outlook for continuing to take share in the mortgage business was, Moynihan said that the bank is focused on originating prime and sort of non-conforming loans.
Back in November, Freddie Mac CEO Donald Layton asked for mortgage lenders to consider writing more low down payment mortgages in order for the government-sponsored enterprise to help increase access to credit to potential homeowners.
The GSE also announced a partnership with Quicken Loans for more low-down payment mortgages.
“The strength of the Affordable Loan Solution program is how it brings each partner’s special expertise together to address the barriers faced by aspiring homebuyers with limited savings,” said Danny Gardner, vice president, affordable lending and access to credit, Freddie Mac. “Freddie Mac is committed to working with industry and community leaders like Bank of America and Self- Help to find better ways for helping eligible borrowers overcome the obstacles that stand between them and successful long-term homeownership.” ( End of Brena’s article.)
Last week’s economic news included the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department releases on housing starts and building permits and minutes of the most recent meeting of the Fed’s FOMC meeting.
Home Builder Confidence Falls in February
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), home builders had less confidence in market conditions for newly built homes. The reading for February was three points lower at 58 than the upwardly adjusted reading for January. Analysts had expected a reading of 59; any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about conditions than those who are not.
Builder confidence was mixed for the three components used to calculate the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reading. Confidence in current market conditions was lower by three points to 65, but builder confidence in future market conditions rose one point to 65. The reading for buyer foot traffic in new housing developments hasn’t topped the benchmark of 50 since the peak of the housing bubble; in February, the reading for buyer foot traffic dropped five points to 39.
NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that builder confidence is likely to improve in 2016 due to low mortgage rates, stable job markets and pent-up demand for homes. Mr. Crowe also said that shortages of available land and labor were concerns for builders.
Housing Starts,Building Permits Issued Lower
Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued also showed lower readings for January than for December. Housing starts reached 1.099 million starts in January as compared to an expected reading of 1.165 million starts and December’s reading of 1.145 million starts. Winter weather likely contributed to fewer housing starts.
Fewer building permits were issued in January than in December. January’s reading was 1.202 million permits issued as compared to December’s reading of 1.143 million building permits issued. Building permits issued for single family homes dropped by 1.60 percent to 731,000 permits issued. While lower month-to-month readings for current conditions may seem discouraging, the pace of single-family home building grew steadily during 2015 and is expected to do likewise in 2016.
FOMC Minutes: Policy Makers Eye Economic Developments
Minutes of January’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting indicate that members will closely monitor developing economic conditions as part of any future decision to raise the target federal funds rate from its current range of 0.250 to 0.500 percent. The Fed raised this rate in December, but did not increase the federal funds rate at its January meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that decisions to raise the federal funds rate were not on a pre-determined course and that developing economic trends would continue to inform FOMC decisions.
Mortgage Rates and Weekly Jobless Claims
Average rates for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.65 percent and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.95 percent with Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for both types of fixed rate mortgages. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 2.85 percent with average discount points at 0.40 percent.
Analysts have consistently cited stronger labor markets as a factor driving U.S. housing markets. New weekly jobless claims dropped last week and added evidence of expanding job markets. 262,000 new jobless claims were filed last week; the reading was lower than expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 269,000 new jobless claims. Stable job markets are important to would-be home buyers; as labor conditions improve more buyers are likely to enter the housing market.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on sales of new and pre-owned homes and the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 City Home Price Indices. Reports on consumer sentiment and inflation will also be released.