NWReporter logo
Serving More Than 32,000 Real Estate Professionals in the

November 2015

News In Brief

  • Fannie Mae, the mortgage finance company, will no longer require lenders to rely on collecting physical copies of pay stubs and tax data, elements traditionally has been required for a mortgage, according to a mynorthwest.com report. The change, which will take place in mid-2016, also will allow lenders to use employment and income information from a database operated by credit bureau Equifax to verify borrowers' creditworthiness. Fannie also announced changes that could ease mortgage credit. However, borrowers who have a traditional score from Fair Isaac (FICO) will still need to meet the 620 minimum. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Also in mid-2016, Fannie said it would mandate lenders to start collecting "trended" credit data from Equifax and TransUnion, which includes longer-term borrower credit histories. The extra information will help Fannie see if borrowers are paying off their credit card bill every month or just making the minimum payment or if they're letting balances rise. Borrowers who are making the full payment could see faster approvals and better interest rates.

  • The top reasons Americans say they want to own a home are: the opportunity to build equity, the desire for a stable and safe environment, and the freedom to choose their neighborhood. That's according to the National Association of REALTORS┬«' 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey, a poll of 1,000 adults nationwide in the 50 largest metro areas. According to the survey, more than eight in 10 Americans say that purchasing a home is a good financial decision, and 68 percent say now is a good time to buy a home. Also, 71 percent of those surveyed also believe they could sell their house for what they paid for it, which is up 16 percentage points from 2013. There are, however, some obstacles to homeownership. Seventy-eight percent of respondents say college debt and student loans are the main barriers to them in making a home purchase affordable. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed say they have a full-time job but still do not make enough money to purchase a home, and 74 percent say they do not have enough money for a down payment and closing costs. A growing number of respondents are also concerned about climbing housing costs - 41 percent call the lack of affordable homes a "very big" or "fairly big" problem in their area - an increase of 9 percentage points from 2013.

  • Winter is on the way, and home owners should prepare their homes for the colder temperatures. According to the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers, the following tips can help home owners protect their homes during the winter season: 1) Ensure there are no gaps in insulation or crawl spaces that expose pipes to cold air, which could put the pipes at risk of freezing and bursting, 2) Have your heating system checked by a licensed technician before cold weather requires daily use, 3) Block drafts around doors, windows and baseboards with weather stripping, window film and caulk to control heat loss, 4) Install storm doors and windows to improve energy efficiency and get rid of drafts, 5) Have chimneys cleaned by an experienced chimney sweep to prevent the risk of a fire from build up or blockages, 6) Spray door locks with powdered-graphite lubricant to prevent freezing and sticking, and 7) Set ceiling fans to rotate clockwise to force rising warm air back toward the floor.

  • About 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day, and half of those who plan to move during retirement say they plan to downsize, according to a report printed in mynorthwest.com. As such, millennials may find they are up against increasing competition from baby boomers for condos and apartments in urban areas. So far, the baby boomers may be winning. Baby boomers are renting apartments and buying condos at more than double the rate of their millennial children which could have big implications for cash-strapped kids who had hoped to snag affordable studios in buildings developed to house 20-somethings. Americans age 55 and older have accounted for 42 percent of the growth in renters over the past 10 years, according to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. What's more, the wealthiest of American households comprised about one-third of new renters between 2011 and 2014. That may price out some millennials, who are still getting their start in the employment world. The cost of rent has reached a record level of $803 a month nationwide, according to government data. The number of families who pay more than half of their income in rent is expected to increase 11 percent to 13.1 million over the next 10 years, according to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

  • The New York Times recently published an article that provided 5 tips for buyers' down payment gifts in light of the fact that lenders are carefully scrutinizing such gifts. About a quarter of first-time homebuyers use gifts from relatives to fund a down payment for a home purchase. The 5 tips that can help make things go smoother for homebuyers are: 1) Have the money come in a check or wire transfer so that it is traceable. Lenders often become cautious over cash gifts. 2) Have the giver provide the lender with a gift letter, which verifies the money is a gift, the specific amount being given, the relationship to the borrower, and that the repayment is not required. 3) It's best to deposit any gift money into the borrower's account a few month before applying for a mortgage so the lenders have fewer questions about it. 4) Consider federal gift-tax regulations: Individual gifts of more than $14,000 for 2015 must be reported to the IRS and are subject to tax. 5) Be aware that certain types of mortgages may limit how much of a down payment you can receive as a gift. For example, with conventional loans, lenders may require at least 5 percent in the borrower's own money that is not a gift. However, Federal Housing Administration loans - which are popular among first-time homebuyers - do not have any limits on gifts and borrowers can use gifts to cover the entire down payment.