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Fed Survey : Mortgage Guidelines Tighten Further, Freeze Out Would-Be Refinancers

fed bank lending survey 2010q3 Fed Survey : Mortgage Guidelines Tighten Further, Freeze Out Would Be Refinancers

It’s getting tougher to get approved for a mortgage. Still.

In its quarterly survey of senior loan officers around the country, the Federal Reserve asked whether “prime” residential mortgage guidelines” have tightened in the prior 3 months.

A “prime” borrower typically carries a well-documented credit history with high credit scores, has a low debt-to-income ratio, and uses a traditional fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage.

For the period July-September 2010, 52 of 54 responding loan officers admitted to tightening their prime guidelines, or leaving them “basically unchanged”.

Just 4% of banks loosened their lending standards.

If you’ve applied for a home loan lately — for either purchase or refinance — you’ve likely experienced the effects of the last 4 years. Because of delinquencies and defaults, today’s mortgage underwriters are forced to scrutinize income, assets and credit scores, among other facets of an home loan application.

Mortgage applicants have higher hurdles to clear:

  • Minimum credit scores are higher versus last year
  • Downpayment/equity requirements are larger versus last year
  • Debt-to-Income ratios must be lower versus last year

In other words, although mortgage rates are the lowest they’ve been in history, qualification standards are not.  Minimum eligibility requirements are tougher, and appear to be toughening still.

If you’re among the many people wondering if now is the right time to join the Refinance Boom, or to buy a home, consider that, while mortgage rates may fall further, eligibility standards may not.

Low mortgage rates don’t matter if you can’t qualify for them

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