Benton County, Oregon VA Loan Information

Table of Contents

FAQ

What is the VA Loan Limit?

2021 VA Home Loan Limit: $0 down payment up to $5,000,000* (subject to lender limits) /2 open VA loans at one time $548,250 (Call 877-432-5626 for details).

How to Apply for a VA Home Loan?

This is a quick look at how to apply for a VA home loan in Benton county. For a more detailed overview of the VA home loan process, check out our complete guide on how to apply for a VA home loan. Here, we’ll go over the general steps to getting a VA home loan and point out some things to pay attention to in Benton County. If you have any questions, you can call us at VA HLC and we’ll help you get started.

  1. Get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
    • Give us a call at (877) 432-5626 and we’ll get your COE for you.
  2. Are you applying for a refinance loan? Check out our complete guide to VA Refinancing.
  3. Get pre-approved, to get pre-approved for a loan, you’ll need:
    • Previous two years of W2s
    • Most recent 30 days paystubs or LES (active duty)
    • Most recent 60 days bank statements
    • Landlord and HR/Payroll Department contact info
  4. Find a home
    • We can help you check whether the home is in one of the Benton County flood zones
  5. Get the necessary inspections
    • Termite inspection: required
    • Well or septic inspections needed, if applicable
  6. Get the home appraised
    • We can help you find a VA-Certified appraiser in Benton County and schedule the process
    • Construction loan note: Construction permit/appraisal info
      1. Building permit
      2. Elevation certificate
  7. Lock-in your interest rates
    • Pro tip: Wait until the appraisal to lock-in your loan rates. If it turns out you need to make repairs, it can push your closing back. Then you can get stuck paying rate extension fees.
  8. Close the deal and get packing!
    • You’re ready to go.

What is the Median Home Price?

As of August 31st, 2020, the median home value for Benton County is $385,002. In addition, the median household income for residents of the county is $58,655.

How much are the VA Appraisal Fees?

  • Single-Family: $775.
  • Individual Condo: $825.
  • Manufactured Homes: $825.
  • 2-4 Unit Multi-Family: $950.
  • Appraisal Turnaround Times: 10 days.

Do I need Flood Insurance?

  • The VA requires properties are required to have flood insurance if they are in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
  • In Benton County, most flood hazard areas are located along the Willamette River which borders the county to the east. Several other creeks within the county are also prone to flooding. However, one of the most significant flood hazard areas is Marys River which floods areas within the city of Corvallis.

How do I learn about Property Taxes?

  • The Benton county tax assessor’s office is located at 4077 S.W. Research Way Corvallis, Oregon, 97333. In addition, the office can also be reached by calling (541) 766-6855
  • Oregon offers businesses that invest and hire within enterprise zones the option to be exempt from property taxes for at least three years. In addition, the Oregon Investment Advantage encourages new businesses to start and relocating to the state. For example, the program offers income tax subtraction, and it can also eliminate state income liability for new businesses for many years.

What is the Population?

  • The county’s population of 93,053 is 79% White, 7% Hispanic, and 7% Asian.
  • Most county residents are between 18 and 65 years old, with 16% under 18 years old and 17% older than 65.
  • In total, the county has about 35,056 households, at an average of two people per household.

What are the major cities?

The county has five cities, including the city of Corvallis, which serves as the county seat. In addition, there are four other cities Adair Village, Albany, Monroe, and Philomath.

About Benton County

Benton County is located in western Oregon and is home to a friendly local community and excellent dining options. Fun in the Oregon wilderness is waiting at any of the beautiful outdoor spots in the county. Many fun and interesting attractions can be found all over the area, including museums, art galleries, golf courses, and much more. Don’t miss out on any of the exciting festivals held in the county, where you can truly celebrate like a local! Benton County was officially founded on December 23, 1847, and was named after Thomas Hart Benton, who served as a U.S. Senator. The current population of the county is 90,951.

Enjoy all the beauty of the Oregon landscape at any of the scenic outdoor spots in Benton County. The E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area is the perfect place to get away from it all, featuring beautiful hiking trails and scenic campsites. For some of the best hiking and rock-climbing opportunities, be sure to check out Mary’s Peak, which offers majestic lookout points. Bring your friends and family to Riverfront Commemorative Park, which features walking paths, picnic areas, and much more. Other scenic outdoor spots in the county include the Alsea Falls Recreation Site and the Beazell Memorial Forest.

A great time is waiting at any of the amazing attractions in Benton County. The Arts Center is a can’t-miss for art-lovers, featuring a huge variety of paintings and sculptures made by talented artists. The Arts Center also hosts workshops, rotating exhibits, and special events. If you are interested in local history, then be sure to visit all the amazing exhibits and artifacts housed within the County Historical Museum. Check out the beautiful Darkside Cinema, which is independently owned and showcases both independent and art films. Other great attractions in the county include the Majestic Theater, Art in the Valley, and the LaSells Stewart Center.

A fun time for the whole family is waiting at all the exciting events held in Benton County. The County Fair and Rodeo bring out most of the local community to enjoy carnival rides, fun games, and delicious local food. Try a multitude of delicious drinks at Corvallis Beer Week. Other great events held in the county include the Corvallis Fall Festival and the Red Blue and Riverfront Festival.

Veteran Information

There are about 5,249 veterans currently living within Benton County, which offers assistance to veterans through:

Benton County is home to one VFW post:

  • Post 3957 Monroe Post – 605 Main Street, Monroe, Oregon 97456.

VA Medical Centers in the county:

  • Benton County VSO – 777 NW 9th Street, Suite 202, Corvallis, Oregon 97330.
  •  

VA Home Loan Information

  • For more information about VA Home Loans and how to apply, click here.
  • If you meet the VA’s eligibility requirements, you will be able to enjoy some of the best government guaranteed home loans available.  
  • VA loans can finance the construction of a property. However, the property must be owned and prepared for construction as the VA cannot ensure vacant land loans.

VA Approved Condos

There are currently no VA approved condos in Benton County, Oregon. However, if you’re interested in getting a condo through the approval process give us a call at (877) 432-5626. We can help you through the condo approval process.   

Oregon VA Loan Information: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/oregon-va-home-loan-limits/

VA Loan Information by State: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/va-loan-limit-maximum-va-loan-amount/

Source: vahomeloancenters.org

Wallowa County, Oregon VA Loan Information

Table of Contents

FAQ

What is the VA Loan Limit?

2021 VA Home Loan Limit for Wallowa County is $0 down payment up to $5,000,000* (subject to lender limits) /2 open VA loans at one time $548,250 (Call 877-432-5626 for details).

How to Apply for a VA Home Loan?

This is a quick look at how to apply for a VA home loan in Wallowa County. For a more detailed overview of the VA home loan process, check out our complete guide on how to apply for a VA home loan. Here, we’ll go over the general steps to getting a VA home loan and point out some things to pay attention to in Wallowa County. If you have any questions, you can call us at VA HLC and we’ll help you get started.

  1. Get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
    • Give us a call at (877) 432-5626 and we’ll get your COE for you.
  2. Are you applying for a refinance loan? Check out our complete guide to VA Refinancing.
  3. Get pre-approved, to get pre-approved for a loan, you’ll need:
    • Previous two years of W2s
    • Most recent 30 days paystubs or LES (active duty)
    • Most recent 60 days bank statements
    • Landlord and HR/Payroll Department contact info
  4. Find a home
    • We can help you check whether the home is in one of the Wallowa County flood zones
  5. Get the necessary inspections
    • Termite inspection: required
    • Well or septic inspections needed, if applicable
  6. Get the home appraised
    • We can help you find a VA-Certified appraiser in Wallowa County and schedule the process
    • Construction loan note: Construction permit/appraisal info
      1. Building permit
      2. Elevation certificate
  7. Lock-in your interest rates
    • Wait until the appraisal to lock-in your loan rates. If it turns out you need to make repairs, it can push your closing back. Then you can get stuck paying rate extension fees.
  8. Close the deal and get packing!
    • You’re ready to go.

What is the Median Home Price?

As of March 31st, 2020, the median home value for Wallowa County is $283,615. In addition, the median household income for residents of the county is $44,953.

How much are the VA Appraisal Fees?

  • Single-Family: $775.
  • Individual Condo: $825.
  • Manufactured Homes: $825.
  • 2-4 Unit Multi-Family: $950.
  • Appraisal Turnaround Times: 10 days.

Do I need Flood Insurance?

The VA requires properties are required to have flood insurance if they are in a Special Flood Hazard Area.

How do I learn about Property Taxes?

  • Randy Wortman is the Wallowa county tax assessor. His office can be reached at 101 South River Street Rm 104 Enterprise, Oregon 97828. In addition, his office can also be reached by calling (541) 426-4543 Ext: 1147.
  • The state of Oregon offers businesses that invest and hire in enterprise zones the option to be exempt from property taxes for at least three years. In addition, the Oregon Investment Advantage program encourages new businesses that are starting as well as the ones who are relocating to the state with various incentives. For example, the program offers income tax subtraction and elimination of state income liability for new businesses for many years.

What is the Population?

  • The county’s population of 7,208 is 92% White, 3% Hispanic, and 2% mixed race.
  • Most county residents are between 18 and 65 years old, with 19% under 18 years old and 29% older than 65.
  • In total, the county has about 3,165 households, at an average of two people per household.

What are the major cities?

There are four cities within the county including the city of Enterprise which is also the county seat. The three other cities in the county are Joseph, Lostine, and Wallowa.

About Wallowa County

Named after the word used by natives to describe the area, Wallowa County, Oregon was home to the Nez Perce people who had lived in the area for about 11,500 years. Eventually, the first white settlers in the county arrived in 1871 and in 1877 the native people got removed from the area and were sent to the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho. However, they did not go quietly and under the leadership of Chief Joseph had several battles until they were ultimately defeated and forced to relocate. Eventually, in 1880 the town of Joseph was named in honor of the chief.

Today, the county is a member of the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District which provides businesses in the region with assistance. Assistance is provided through training, and technical assistance for businesses, non-profits, and local governments.

Educationally speaking, the county is served by four school districts which include a total of six schools that range from kindergarten to high school. In addition, students in the county get to take part in classes with a student to teacher ratio of 11 to 1, allowing for education to be more adaptive and personal.

Finally, in addition to its workforce and education, the county is also home to beautiful natural scenery which has been said to work as a magnet for tourists. Several recreational areas exist within the county like Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and the Eagle Cap Wilderness. 

Veteran Information

The county is currently home to 655 veterans, and they all have access to:

  • Wallowa County is home to two VFW post:
    • Post 4307 Eagle Cap Post – 800 N River St. Enterprise, OR 97828.
    • Post 4060 high Valley Post – 518 N. Main St. Union, OR 97883.
  • VA Medical Centers in the county:
    • Wallowa County VA Telehealth Clinic – 401 Northeast 1st St. Suite A, Enterprise, OR 97828.
  • County Veteran Assistance Information
    • Wallowa County Veteran Service Office – 401 NE 1st Enterprise, OR 97828. 

Apply for a VA Home Loan

  • For more information about VA Home Loans and how to apply, click here.
  • If you meet the VA’s eligibility requirements, you will be able to enjoy some of the best government guaranteed home loans available.  
  • VA loans can finance the construction of a property. However, the property must be owned and prepared for construction as the VA cannot ensure vacant land loans.

VA Approved Condos

There are currently no VA-approved condos in Wallowa County, Oregon. However, it is still possible to get a condo through the condo approved and we can help you through the condo approval process, just call us at (877) 432-5626.  

Oregon VA Loan Information: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/oregon-va-home-loan-limits/

VA Loan Information by State: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/va-loan-limit-maximum-va-loan-amount/

Source: vahomeloancenters.org

Current Mortgage Rates Continue to Move Lower

It’s been good news this week for home buyers and home owners looking to refinance as mortgage rates have improved. It hasn’t been a big swing lower but mortgage rates have mostly remained lower after a drop on Monday morning. Read on for more details.

Where are mortgage rates going?                                             

Mortgage rates move lower in the Freddie Mac PMMS

Current mortgage rates have moved lower for second straight week, according to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS).

Here are the numbers:

  • The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage moved lower by two basis points to 4.51% (0.5 points)
  • The average rate on a 15-year fixed rate mortgage ticked lower by three basis points to 3.98% (0.5 points)
  • The average rate on a 5-year adjustable rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 3.82% (0.03 points)

Here is what Freddie Mac’s Economic & Housing Research Group had to say about rates this week:

“Mortgage rates inched backward this week to their lowest level since mid-April.

Backed by very strong consumer spending, the economy is red-hot this month, which is in turn rippling through the financial markets and driving equities higher.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the housing market, where it appears sales activity crested in late 2017. Existing-home sales have now stepped back annually for the fifth straight month, and purchase mortgage applications this week were barely above year ago levels.

It is clear affordability constraints have cooled the housing market, especially in expensive coastal markets. Many metro areas desperately need more new and existing affordable inventory to break out of this slump.”

Rate/Float Recommendation                                  

Lock now before move even higher     

While mortgage rates have improved for the second consecutive week, the long-term outlook continues to be for them to gradually increase as the Federal Reserve gets ready for and follows through with increases to the nation’s benchmark interest rate. The first hike is expected to take place next month, with another likely in December.

Learn what you can do to get the best interest rate possible.  

Today’s economic data:           

Jobless Claims

Applications filed for U.S. unemployment benefits for the week of 8/18 came in at 210,000. That’s 2,000 lower than the previous reading, bringing the 4-week moving average down to 213,750.

FHFA House Price Index

The FHFA House Price Index increased 0.2% from the previous month in June. That brings the year over year increase to 6.5%.

PMI Composite Flash

The PMI Composite index hit a 55.0 in August. Manufacturing came in at 54.5 while Services hit 55.2.

New Home Sales

New Home Sales for July came in at an annualized rate of 627,000. That’s slightly below the consensus reading of 649,000.

Jackson Hole Symposium

Kicks off today and ends tomorrow.

Kansas City Fed Mfg Index 

11:00am

Notable events this week:     

Monday:   

Tuesday:   

Wednesday:         

  • Existing Home Sales
  • EIA Petroleum Status Report
  • FOMC Minutes

Thursday:     

  • Jobless Claims
  • FHFA House Price Index
  • PMI Composite Flash
  • New Home Sales
  • Jackson Hole Symposium
  • Kansas City Fed Mfg Index

Friday:          

  • Fedspeak
  • Jackson Hole Symposium

*Terms and conditions apply.

Carter Wessman

Carter Wessman is originally from the charming town of Norfolk, Massachusetts. When he isn’t busy writing about mortgage related topics, you can find him playing table tennis, or jamming on his bass guitar.

Source: totalmortgage.com

The REO Guide: 10 Steps to Buying a Bank-Owned Home

Many potential homebuyers and investors overlook bank-owned properties, but for buyers who take the time to understand the REO process, these homes can be a significant opportunity.

Some homebuyers are intimidated by foreclosed and bank-owned homes because they often require more renovations — and a different type of negotiation — than other options on the market. However, some REO properties come at a significant discount, and, if you’re willing to work through some of the nuances of the post-foreclosure market, you can set yourself up for a great deal.

What is a Real Estate Owned (REO) Property?

REO, which stands for “Real Estate Owned,” is a term applied to foreclosed properties whose ownership has transferred to the bank or lender.

In order to become an REO property, it must go through these general steps:

  1. Loan Default. The homeowner/borrower defaults on (fails to make) their mortgage payments for a certain length of time, with the qualifying amount usually specified in the mortgage terms.
  2. Foreclosure. The lender initiates legal proceedings against the borrower to foreclose on the property.
  3. Auction. The property is then offered to the public at a foreclosure auction and typically sold to the highest bidder. If the property sells to a third party at the auction, the bank or lender recoups some of the cost of the outstanding loan balance, interest and fees from the sale of the property.
  4. REO Status. If the home fails to sell at auction to a third party, possession typically passes to the lender and it becomes a Real Estate Owned (REO) property. The lender prepares to sell it, which may involve evicting occupants and removing outstanding liens attached to the property.

REO properties are attractive to homebuyers or real estate investors for several reasons. In many cases, lenders are motivated sellers who do not want to sit on their REO inventory, and (depending on the bank’s history with the property) these homes may be priced at a discount. However, other factors — like the home being sold “as is” — may affect the ultimate price, so it’s important to work through the process methodically to make sure you account for every variable.

10 Steps to Buying REO Properties

The process for buying an REO home is similar to the standard home buying process, but there are a few key exceptions to keep in mind. Whether you’re buying the home to live in or as an investment, these 10 steps should help set you up for success with bank-owned properties.

Step 1: Browse Available REO Properties

Before you get too far into the process, take a look at the properties available in your target market or price range. There are several ways for prospective homebuyers to browse available REO properties:

  • Bank and lender listings: Lender-specific listings, such as PennyMac REO listings, show all available bank-owned properties from a certain lender.
  • Multiple Listing Service: Lenders and Realtors® often use the Multiple Listing Service to list REO properties, making it easy to find options from multiple lenders in one place.
  • Real estate agent: A real estate agent will be able to find REO offerings from multiple lenders in your desired area.
  • Online services: Other online services, such as Zillow, offer tools to look up foreclosures by certain characteristics or in certain areas. Some of these tools are free to use, while others may charge a fee.

Step 2: Find a Lender and Discuss REO Financing

Once you’ve found a property you are interested in, talk to a lender about your financing options. This is particularly important because of the timing of the REO homebuying process; lenders are motivated to sell and want to get these homes off of their books, so the more prepared you are with financing, the better.

One thing that can speed up the REO homebuying process is getting pre-approved by the lender that owns the home. With this pre-approval, the lender that owns the REO property will know that you are financially qualified to purchase the property, making them more likely to accept your offer.

Step 3: Find a Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Who Knows REO Homes

A buyer’s agent is a great partner to have while you navigate the home buying process. Your buyer’s agent helps make sure you are finding the best properties at the best possible prices, and they will use their experience to guide you through every stage of the process. Your agent should also be able to tell you if you need to hire anyone else, such as an attorney or an inspection service, depending on your state and situation.

If you are specifically interested in REO properties, try to find a buyer’s agent who works with REO properties frequently. This way, your real estate agent knows the ins and outs of negotiating with a lender, how to calculate the cost of necessary repairs, how to work within the lender’s timeline and how to prepare you for what comes next.

Step 4: Refine Your List of Lender-Owned Properties

Once you are working with a buyer’s agent, you can start narrowing down your list of REO properties. Some major characteristics that should be taken into account include the following:

  • Listing price
  • Significant repairs needed (and the overall impact on price)
  • Location (and proximity to a school, workplace, or other desired area)
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Quality of neighborhood and surrounding areas
  • Community resources in the area, such as parks, gyms, places of worship, etc.
  • Lender-specific contingencies or requirements

Once you have taken your “must have” features into account, if you are left with multiple properties, refine your list based on “nice to have“ features like a large yard, a finished basement or an in-ground pool. Share your favorite homes with your agent, who can set up tours for properties at the top of your list.

Step 5: Get an Appraisal on Your Ideal Property

Some REO homes go for a great price, but buying a bank-owned home is not an automatic bargain. An REO property may be discounted based on an undesirable location or severe damage, or it can be overpriced based on comparable sales in the area or the lender’s desire to recoup the money spent. Either way, it’s a good idea to consider getting an appraisal so you know how the true value compares to the asking price.

An appraisal will help you get an objective estimated value, which you can compare to the bank’s asking price to see if the price is fair. During the appraisal, a licensed appraiser will take inventory of major systems (i.e., HVAC, plumbing), the structural integrity of the home, and check the prices of comparable homes in the area.

Note: An appraisal, which tries to estimate true home value, is different from a home inspection, which tries to take inventory of current and potential issues. An appraisal will help you decide whether or not the asking price is fair; an inspection will help you understand the repairs and renovations needed, which is critical for a bank-owned home.

Step 6: Make an Offer

Once you’ve found a property that is right for you, it’s time to make an offer.

Your agent will help you decide what kind of offer is likely to be accepted, put together the offer and submit it to the lender. Depending on the lender, you may need to submit special contract forms or paperwork. It is also common to attach an earnest money deposit check to your offer. This check (commonly 1-2% of the purchase price) is usually held in an escrow account until the purchase is finalized.

Make sure to consider the inspection process as you are making your offer. You may choose to make the offer contingent on inspection so you are protected if the inspection uncovers significant (and potentially dangerous) issues. If necessary repairs are well-documented, you can use that documentation to make your case for a low offer. Talk to your agent to understand your options when it comes to inspection contingencies.

Step 7: Have the Property Inspected

An inspection should be part of buying any home, but it is crucial for bank-owned homes. Real estate owned properties are typically sold “as is,” meaning the homebuyer is on the hook for any repairs — including major structural issues — that need to be fixed. An REO home may have been vacant for weeks or months, it may be neglected due to the homeowner’s financial trouble, or the previous owners may have removed items or damaged the property before vacating. Additionally, it’s possible that the property has gone through non-permitted renovations.

With that in mind, you need to be 100% sure you know what needs to be fixed before finalizing the loan. Having a home inspection done is the best way to take a thorough inventory of what repairs need to be made. The cost of these repairs should be added to the asking price so you have a better idea of what the home will cost you (and whether it’s still a good deal after repair costs are factored in).

In some cases, the lender may conduct an inspection when the home becomes bank-owned. If so, make sure you get a copy of the inspection report and review it thoroughly to decide if it is comprehensive enough to help make your decision.

Step 8: Negotiate Details

For better or worse, negotiating with a lender for a bank-owned home is different from negotiating with a homeowner.

On one hand, dealing with a bank instead of a homeowner means you don’t have to worry about emotional attachments to the home influencing the decision. You are also usually dealing with a very motivated lender who wants to get rid of the property (especially if it’s been on the market more than 30 days).

On the other hand, banks typically take longer to respond to an offer (or a question) than a homeowner because the offer must be reviewed by several individuals or companies. When the lender does respond, they will expect you to respond quickly to keep the process moving.

Working with a lender also means jumping through more corporate hoops. Banks are also more likely to present a counter offer because they must demonstrate they tried to get the best possible price for the property. In addition, the lender may ask you to sign a purchase addendum (which you should thoroughly review with your real estate agent or lawyer) and your final offer may be contingent on corporate approval.

Step 9: Finalize Your Loan

Now that you have submitted an offer, several things will be going on at once: the home inspection, negotiations with the bank, and the finalizing of your loan. During this time, you will be filling out paperwork and sharing information with your lender to ensure your loan is the right fit for the offer you have submitted.

Now is also the time to verify the status of the title. The bank typically clears the title before selling a bank-owned home but you can never assume this is the case. Contact the lender to see if the title has been cleared. If not, the lender may have a title company standing by to perform these services. If you are expected to do so yourself, hire a title company to run a full, insured title search before closing the deal.

Step 10: Closing

Once all of the paperwork is in place, you’ve wired in your down payment and your loan funds are in place, it’s time to close.

Closing on an REO property is similar to any other closing, with a few notable exceptions. If you’re unable to close by a predetermined closing date, the lender may charge a penalty for each day beyond the deadline. (You can try to avoid these delays by getting pre-approved for a loan and getting assurance that your financing will come through by a given date.)

At the closing, you and the lender representative will sign the documents necessary to transfer the house into your name and to finish your mortgage. After you’ve signed everything and the money goes to the right place, you’ll get the keys and a new title: homeowner.

Is an REO Home the Right Fit For You?

A bank-owned home can be a great opportunity for homebuyers or investors to find a good deal — but only if you’re willing to be patient and thorough. Dealing with a lender rather than an individual seller may mean slower response times and a more difficult negotiation, but it can lead to a potentially lower price from a motivated seller that has already handled outstanding taxes.

Browse PennyMac REO listings to see available bank-owned properties from PennyMac, or call a PennyMac Loan Officer to discuss your options today.

Source: pennymacusa.com

ARM financing inches up as credit loosens ahead of spring buying

Lenders in January reversed a slight year-end contraction in underwriting with an expanded product set that included more adjustable-rate mortgages taken out by borrowers with lower credit scores.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s credit availability index last month ticked up 2.5 points to 124.6 from 122.1, but that number was down markedly from 181.9 a year ago.

The index’s movement suggests that lenders want to accommodate consumers buying homes amid forecasts of diminished refinancing, but they aren’t yet ready to lend as freely as they did before the pandemic.

“Even with overall credit availability picking up in three of the past four months, credit supply is still at its tightest level since 2014,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, in a press release.

While the ARM market share remains very small, an uptick for this loan type may indicate that some borrowers are looking for slightly lower initial rates prior to an adjustment period. The fact that there’s been a slight dip in the credit score allowable suggests lenders are looking to do more to address affordability considerations as well.

The jumbo component of the index rose by 2.2% week-over-week but there was an even larger increase — 7.7% — among loans within Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s conforming limits, which vary by location but generally require loans to be no larger than $548,250.

Underwriting of government-insured loans that generally serve the needs of lower-income borrowers tightened 0.1%, suggesting lenders are somewhat cautious about this sector. The rate at which borrowers have been putting payments on hold for coronavirus-related contingencies has been higher in the government market than the conforming market. Government loans had a 7.46% forbearance rate, compared to a 3.07% for conforming mortgages, in the MBA’s latest weekly survey.

The MCAI is based on data from the widely-used Ellie Mae mortgage origination system owned by Intercontinental Exchange. The index’s baseline of 100 represents underwriting conditions in March 2012, which credit was relatively tight.

Source: nationalmortgagenews.com

Refinance soon to avoid the FHFA adverse market refinance fee

FHFA fee starts on December 1, but rates will go up before that

Starting on December 1, a new “Adverse Market Refinance Fee” will be imposed on most conventional refinances.

But homeowners won’t pay the new fee at closing.

Instead, lenders will cover it by raising refinance rates — likely by as much as 0.125% to 0.25% on average.

To avoid higher rates, you’ll want to refinance before the fee takes effect.

But there’s a catch: to avoid FHFA’s fee, your refinance loan needs to be closed and delivered to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before December 1.

Homeowners who want the lowest-possible refinance rate should apply 2-3 months before December 1 — which is pretty much right now.

Find and a low refinance rate now (Feb 9th, 2021)

What is the Adverse Market Refinance Fee?

On August 12, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they would assess a new fee on all conventional refinance loans.

The fee is equal to 0.5% of the loan amount.

That means if you had a $200,000 refinance, the new fee would amount to an additional cost of $1,000.

Refinances take a long time to close and deliver, so a September 1 start date meant the fee was already being added to refinances in process.

Originally, the fee was meant to start on September first — meaning it would have applied to all loans not yet delivered to Fannie or Freddie by that date.

But because refinances take a long time to close and deliver, the fee effectively started being added to loans that were already in process prior to September 1.

However, Fannie and Freddie have since changed the rules (and delayed the start date for the fee) in response to a strong industry backlash against it.

Changes to the FHFA refinance fee

On August 25th, FHFA announced two changes to the new refinance fee.

  • The start date moved from September 1 to December 1
  • The new charge will not apply to loan amounts below $125,000, or to HomeReady and Home Possible loans

This is good news for borrowers. It means rates may stay a little lower, a little longer.

It also means that borrowers who were already in the process of refinancing might not see their rates go up as a result of the fee.

In fact, loans currently in the pipeline might have their loan costs re-adjusted in borrowers’ favor, notes Matthew Graham of Mortgage News Daily.

But each lender will handle its own loans differently, so make sure you talk to your mortgage company if you were in the process of refinancing.

Also, note that loans must be delivered to Fannie or Freddie before December 1 to avoid the fee.

That means the refinance will have to close much earlier (in October or early November), so time your refinance accordingly.

Find and lock a low refinance rate (Feb 9th, 2021)

The new fee could push refinance rates up by 0.125% or more

When the new fee does go into effect, borrowers won’t pay it directly.

Instead, it’s likely to be charged to borrowers in the form of higher rates.

“The fee is 50bps [0.50%] in terms of PRICE, and that equates to roughly 0.125% in terms of interest rate,” says Graham.

Though others have estimated that refinance rates could rise as much as 0.375% on average when the fee goes into effect.

Either way, that’s a significant difference in refinance rates for borrowers.

For those who planned to refinance in the near future, it makes sense to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

The earlier you start your refinance, the better your odds of closing and having the loan delivered to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before the fee once again goes into effect.

Find a low refinance rate today (Feb 9th, 2021)

Will all refinances be affected by the new fee?

The Adverse Market Refinance Fee will only apply to refinance loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In other words, it applies to ‘conventional’ refinance loans.

But other types of mortgages could be affected indirectly.

In fact, the initial announcement set off higher rates for both purchase and refinancing loans, including some not intended for sale to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Those who had not locked in rates suddenly faced higher interest costs.

So in the coming months, it seems safe to assume that conventional refinances won’t be the only type affected by rising rates.

No refinance fee on loans under $125,000

One piece of good news from Fannie and Freddie’s most recent announcement is that the refinance fee won’t be charged on loans under $125,000.

Note, that’s based on the loan balance — not the home’s value.

So if your home is worth significantly more than $125,000, but you’ve paid down a lot of the balance, you might end up refinancing less than $125K and the fee won’t affect you.

In addition, the fee won’t be charged to those refinancing a Freddie Mac Home Possible loan or Fannie Mae HomeReady loan.

Why was a new fee developed?

We have faced the COVID-19 economy for months. Some 55 million people have filed for unemployment, and lenders have had to adjust many of their policies to account for the added uncertainty.

But did something new happen to justify this extra fee?

According to Freddie Mac, the new fee was necessary “as a result of risk management and loss forecasting precipitated by COVID-19 related economic and market uncertainty.”

Fannie Mae explained that it was adding the fee “in light of market and economic uncertainty resulting in higher risk and costs.”

But on August 25th, a different answer emerged.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) — the regulator that runs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the new money was “necessary to cover projected COVID-19 losses of at least $6 billion at the Enterprises.”

“Specifically,” says FHFA, “the actions taken by the Enterprises during the pandemic to protect renters and borrowers are conservatively projected to cost the Enterprises at least $6 billion and could be higher depending on the path of the economic recovery.”

This refers to relief packages passed during COVID-19, which allowed borrowers to skip mortgage payments without penalty and prevented lenders from foreclosing on any delinquent loans.

But this amount is a fraction of the $109.5 billion in profits Fannie and Freddie have added to government coffers, even after paying back bailout funds they received during the 2008 housing crisis, according to ProPublica.

Using a small percentage of past years’ profits to help homeowners through a worldwide pandemic seems like a good idea to us, anyway.

Will Congress stop the new fee before it goes into effect?

The Adverse Market Refinance fee is now set to start after the November election.

So, could the results of the election impact whether or not the fee actually goes into effect?

That’s not certain. Both Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, and Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Chair of the Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance, oppose the new charge.

If opposition to the fee is strong enough, there could potentially be an investigation into the fee and an attempt to stop it. But there’s no guarantee this will happen.

What to do if you want to refinance

Rates are still sitting near record lows — below 3% in many cases. This is basically unheard of in the mortgage world.

Rates are likely to go up as the new refinance fee start date nears. But that’s just one of the many, many factors that can impact mortgage and refinance rates.

If the economy starts to see a real recovery any time soon, rates could start going up regardless of what happens with the refinance fee. On the flip side, they’re not likely to go much lower than they are now.

So for borrowers hoping to refinance at record-low rates, it makes sense to get started sooner rather than later.

Verify your new rate (Feb 9th, 2021)

Source: themortgagereports.com

Mortgage Rates Roughly Unchanged From Last Week

Mortgage rates have been extremely stable given their proximity to all-time lows.  Past precedent suggests one of two things when rates set records: a slow grind lower with additional periodic records or a rather abrupt bounce back in the other direction.

The 2nd half of 2020 was definitely characterized by the aforementioned slow grind with at least 20 separate days resulting in record low rates by December 21st.  Since then, rates have gone no lower, but apart from a brief stint in early January, they really haven’t gone appreciably higher either.  This is made all the more impressive by the fact that the broader bond market is indeed telling mortgage rates to rise.  Specifically, 10yr Treasury yields–a perennial travel companion for 30yr fixed mortgage rates–have been rising consistently since August 2020.  

Mortgage rates were largely immune to that Treasury trend due to volatility at the beginning of the pandemic.  Mortgage rates simply weren’t able to drop as quickly as Treasury yields and have been closing the gap ever since.  The cushion is increasingly thin these days, but not so thin as to prevent the mortgage market from faring better in the face of bond market weakness (bond weakness = higher rates, all other things being equal). 

The other key factor in play is that the price of mortgage-backed bonds (the stuff that actually dictates mortgage rates) have simply outperformed Treasuries as the latter suffer more directly from increased Treasury issuance (used to pay for stimulus and other government spending).  

When will this change?  To a large degree, the change has already begun.  Mortgages may not be as volatile as Treasuries but they are correlating more reliably in terms of the direction of movement on any given day.  With that in mind, tomorrow’s 10yr Treasury auction may be the next source of guidance for both sides of the market.

Source: mortgagenewsdaily.com

Rates Under Pressure Despite Weak Jobs Report

Economic data is traditionally one of the key contributors to interest rate movement. Of the regularly-scheduled reports, none has more market-moving street cred than The Employment Situation–otherwise known as “the jobs report” or simply NFP (due to its headline component: Non-Farm Payrolls).

The relationship between econ data and rates can wax and wane.  Covid definitely threw a wrench in the works, and economists still don’t know exactly how things will shake out.  In general, the market is trading on the assumption that things continue to improve even if the data isn’t making that case today.

In fact, today’s jobs report specifically suggests something quite different.  The economy only created 49k new jobs in January, and the last few reports were revised much lower to boot.  Taken together, these reports effectively put an end to the “correction” phase of the labor market recovery.

20210205 nl0.png

In other words, payrolls plummeted at the onset of covid (“contraction” phase).  They’d been bouncing back in record fashion through September, but have since returned to closer to zero growth.  That’s not great news considering we’re still roughly 10 million jobs away from pre-covid levels.

20210205 nl3.png

Based solely on the data above, interest rates shouldn’t be eager to rise.  A 10 million job deficit is a big deal and it speaks to a level of economic activity that promotes risk-aversion (which, in turn, benefits rates).

But rates have other factors on their mind.  In fact, we don’t even need to move on to other factors to consider one counterpoint.  Simply put, the labor market recovery is still playing out.  While it’s true we’ve seen the big contraction and correction, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the coming months. It’s too soon to declare the death of the labor market based on the past few months–especially when seasonal adjustments are considered.

The following chart zooms in on the monthly job count to show the recent volatility and the normal range for solid job growth.  One could easily imagine returning to that range as lockdown restrictions are eased and vaccine distribution improves.  To a large extent, the bond market (and thus, interest rates) is operating based on its best guesses about the next 6-12 months as opposed to what it mostly already knew about January 2020.  Bottom line: if job growth is going to end up in that “solid range,” we wouldn’t necessarily know it yet.

20210205 nl1.png

Moving on from jobs data, the bond market has other timely concerns.  Next week brings another round of record-setting Treasury issuance.  Treasuries = US government debt.  The more money the government needs to spend (and the less revenue it takes in), the more Treasuries it must issue.  The greater the issuance, the more upward pressure on rates–all other things being equal.  

At the same time, congress passed a budget resolution that paves the way for the $1.9 trillion covid relief bill to pass in as little as 2 weeks.  Stimulus hurts bonds/rates on two fronts by increasing Treasury issuance and by (hopefully) strengthening the economy.  A stronger economy can sustain higher interest rates, in general.  

With all of the above in mind, it’s no great surprise to see a continuation of a well-established trend toward higher yields in 10yr US Treasuries.  The 10yr yield is the benchmark for longer-term rates in the US and it tends to correlate extremely well with mortgages.  As such, this chart would normally be a concern for the mortgage market.

20210205 nl55.png

But as we discussed last week, mortgage rates have diverged from Treasury trends in an unprecedented way.  

20210205 nl5.png

Despite the departure, the point of last week’s newsletter was to provide another reminder that mortgage rates can’t keep this up forever.  Indeed, when we zoom in on the actual day-to-day changes in 10yr yields and mortgage rates, we can see strong correlation again–just with much smaller steps taken by mortgages.

20210205 nl6.png

The takeaway is that it’s no longer safe to bank on a series of increasingly lower all-time lows in mortgage rates.  As long as the broader bond market remains under pressure, so too will the mortgage market–even if it takes less damage by comparison.  If these trends continue, mortgage rates may not rise as fast as Treasuries, but they’d still be rising.

For now though, the sun is still shining on the mortgage market.  Both purchase and refi applications are soaring, and new housing inventory can’t come fast enough.

20210205 nl4.png

Next week’s focal point for interest rates will be the Treasury auctions in the middle of the week–especially the 10yr Note Auction on Wednesday.  Last time around, that auction marked a turning point for a rising rate trend that shared several similarities with the current one.  

Source: mortgagenewsdaily.com

Early Mortgage Payoff Benefits Depend on Variables

Complete list of specialty news sections.

Reach mortgage executives, loan originators and other people tied to mortgage industry.

Subscription-based news for people who work in real estate finance.

Free e-mail newsletter with the latest headlines from MortgageDaily.com.

Put entire MortgageDaily.com stories in your online or printed newsletter or publication.

Condensed MortgageDaily.com stories for your web site or for your RSS reader.

Archive of news entries.

Data and statistics for real estate finance.

Directory of lenders, branch operators and mortgage service providers.

Source: mortgagedaily.com