The Truth About Mortgage Underwriting Pt.1

From Housing Wire 8/15/14

The truth about mortgage underwriting

Some mortgages shouldn’t be denied

The world is awash in inaccurate sound bites related to mortgage credit. We spoke with numerous industry executives and identified three truths that need to be clarified:

1. Low income buyers actually have it easy. Buyers with poor credit and low income are finding it quite easy to buy a home below the FHA limit.

2. Many affluent buyers find it very difficult. Automated underwriting prevents many highly qualified borrowers, especially affluent retirees, self-employed, or commissioned salespeople from getting a mortgage because their income situation does not fit squarely in the credit box.

3. Industry executives are unintentionally preventing a recovery. Mortgage industry executives lobbying for the good old days where FHA limits were higher, fees were lower, and documentation was easier need to stop whining because they look very unreasonable to regulators and politicians who are not sympathetic.

Our purpose here is to shed some light on what is actually happening—- because if there were clarity around this, we would have:

1. More entry-level home buyers. Many qualified people are not even shopping for a home because they presume they cannot get a mortgage. We provide several examples of easy qualification below.

2. More affluent home buyers. More good loans to very qualified buyers would be made if underwriters were allowed to use good business sense rather than fill in automated forms. As we did our research, we heard many stories of buyers reluctantly paying cash or deciding not to move at all and telling their friends who then also elect not to move. These include business owners, retirees, and commissioned salespeople.

3. More relocating home buyers. Many relocating employees are renting simply because they cannot provide historical pay stubs at their new employer. Given their track record of steady employment and desirability to multiple employers, does that make any sense?

In the aftermath of the housing crisis, the reality is that we are lending aggressively to the poor and conservatively to the rich. While the Dodd-Frank rules were written with good intent, let the truth be known, so more first-time buyers can take advantage of current programs to buy homes. Let the bankers use good judgment again, so more affluent buyers can get a mortgage.

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