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‘Piggyback’ Loans Revisited

“Piggyback loans” are readily available once again, but not in the form that allowed many borrowers to buy homes with no money down before the housing crash.
These mortgages are essentially a two-loan package — one “piggybacks” on the other to go toward the purchase price.
Read more on: NY Times

Mortgage Insurance Paid Upfront

Private mortgage insurance is the bane of home buyers who can’t put down at least 20 percent. The insurance protects the lender in the event that a borrower defaults on a property with little equity, but it also guarantees a considerably higher monthly mortgage payment.
An increasingly popular alternative allows borrowers to buy out of that monthly burden, however. With single-premium mortgage insurance, the borrower makes one lump-sum payment upfront.
Read more on: NY Times

Financing Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes — factory-built structures that are transported to a leased or buyer-owned lot — offer a realistic possibility of homeownership for many lower-income buyers. But financing options are limited and expensive, which has sparked calls for reform.
Commonly mischaracterized as mobile homes, manufactured homes have become a crucial source of affordable housing, especially in the South, the West and northern New England, according to a report issued last month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Read more on: NY Times

When Mortgage Rates Rise

Mortgage rates have remained relatively low this year, and little changed, despite previous predictions of an inevitable rise. Borrowers, though, may be wondering how much longer this environment can last.
At this point, waiting for the rise in interest rates “is a little bit like ‘Waiting for Godot,’ ” said Stan Humphries, the chief economist for Zillow, an online real estate information service, referring jokingly to the Samuel Beckett play named for a character who never shows up
Read more on: NY Times

Helping Prevent Foreclosures

A new study finds that the emergency extensions of unemployment benefits during the recession went a long way toward preventing mortgage defaults, even more than government programs meant to prevent foreclosures by focusing only on reducing monthly payments. Researchers from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, in Washington, and the Kellogg School of Management, at Northwestern University, estimate that between July 2008 and December 2012, the $250 billion paid out in federally funded unemployment benefits helped prevent an estimated 1.4 million foreclosures.
Read more on: NY Times

Improving Default Rates on F.H.A. Loans

Default rates for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration have consistently been higher than those on loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. New research from the Urban Institute suggests that a key difference in how the programs measure a borrower’s ability to pay could account for much of this performance gap. Both government-backed programs are critical to first-time and lower-income home buyers because they allow minimum down payments. F.H.A. borrowers can put down as little as 3.5 percent of the loan amount, while the V.A., which is limited to veterans and active-duty military personnel, allows for 100 percent financing.
Read more on: NY Times

Fewer Loan Applications

Spring failed to inspire a surge in home sales nationally this year, even though mortgage rates are still reasonably low. Although economists insist that the housing market is on an upward trend, abnormal conditions left over from the recession continue to be a drag. Mortgage applications for home purchases as of June were down 15 percent from the same period last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. And sales of existing homes were about 6 percent weaker this spring compared with 2013, the association said. (In May alone, sales were down 5 percent from the previous year, the National Association of Realtors reported on Monday.) So what is holding buyers back? At least three major dynamics are at work.
Read more on: NY Times

F.H.A. Loans Get Better with Credit Counseling

Tight mortgage lending conditions have largely shut out the millions of borrowers with credit scores below 640. In response, the Federal Housing Administration, which insures low-down-payment loans, has taken on the tricky task of trying to expand access to credit without increasing the rate of default. This month the agency announced that it would lower mortgage insurance premiums for borrowers who commit to housing counseling. Borrowers who complete counseling before closing on a home will receive a 0.5 percentage-point reduction in their upfront insurance premium.
Read more on: NY Times

Reverse Mortgage Realities

Adult children have reason to be wary when their parents start talking about reverse mortgages. The loans make sense only for those who plan to stay in their homes for the rest of their lives and can afford to pay property taxes and insurance for that long. But elder law and reverse mortgage experts say they frequently encounter resistance from children less concerned about the terms of the loan than about losing their presumed inheritance.
Read more on: NY Times

Fallout From Refinancing

Homeowners who refinanced when fixed mortgage rates dropped below 4 percent will be less inclined to put their homes on the market as interest rates climb. And as a result, the limited property supply already impeding sales in many markets may not ease anytime soon. A recent survey by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage based in Seattle, suggests that even those beneficiaries of low-refinance rates who do decide to move may want to make money renting out their homes while waiting for prices to rise, rather than sell right away.
Read more on: NY Times

Rates Rising for Modified Loans

The federal government’s Home Affordable Modification Program, known as HAMP, was designed to keep borrowers from losing their homes to foreclosure. It has resulted in lower monthly mortgage payments for more than a million homeowners. But some industry experts are now questioning whether HAMP has only prolonged the inevitable. HAMP modifications are a five-year deal, and after that, the interest rate on the loan, which was typically reduced to as low as 2 percent, begins to gradually adjust upward.
Read more on: NY Times

With the New Year, New Consumer Protections on Mortgages

New rules for consumers seeking home loans are arriving in the new year. And if you already have a mortgage, new borrower protections take effect for you, too. The rules, issued by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, were issued in early 2013 but begin next week. Beginning Jan. 10, lenders must take steps to make sure you, as a borrower, can afford to repay the loan you are seeking, based on your income, debts and credit history.
Read more on: NY Times