The national fallout began last year in the sub-prime or what is called the predatory lending market. Dozens of lenders closed their doors, but now national lenders are also feeling the effects.
First Magnus Financial Corp. of Tucson, one of New England's biggest loan brokers, said it would stop lending altogether. Then American Home Mortgage Investment Corp., a publicly traded real estate investment trust that grew rapidly during the housing boom to become the nation's 10th-biggest residential mortgage lender just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. AHM employed about 7500 employees in more than 550 offices in 47 states and the District of Columbia.
The list will continue to grow as companies like First Magnus Financial, American Home Mortgage and National City Home Equity announce they are no longer funding loans. National City Home Equity, like AHM, specializes in so-called Alt-A lending, typically to borrowers with strong credit who, for one of a variety of reasons, may not meet all the requirements for a prime, conforming loan. As the ripple effect of this collapse continues to spread, another large Alt-A lender, Houston-based Aegis Mortgage Corp. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Aegis also laid off half of its 1,305 employee work force.
The nation’s largest independent mortgage lender with over 60,000 employees, Countrywide Financial Corp. is ‘lying on its side’ as one financial reporter described it. While companies like CFC manipulate billions of dollars in unsecured credit options to stay afloat, those companies still funding loans must devise ways to protect their loan investments.
Facing dwindling funds from jittery mortgage investors, the result is a more stringent qualification criteria required from would-be borrowers. Lenders are tightening requirements, increasing interest rates, demanding larger down payments, and completely withdrawing some mortgage products. However, New England based lenders like Sovereign Bank and Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank say they are still having no problem funding loans. Sovereign has instituted a program they call "lock and look" that comes with a full pre-approval and allows the client to lock in a rate while they look for their future home, for either 90 or 120 days.
Borrowers are being told to make at least a 5% down payment, put enough money down to avoid taking out a higher-rate jumbo mortgage, and be prepared to verify your income through tax or other documents. Borrowers may also be required to have assets on reserve equal to six or more monthly payments. Even borrowers with strong credit and fico scores well above 700 can not be certain their loans will be funded.
The following comes from a major U.S. mortgage writer. It is typical of what has been going on in the mortgage business:
“As you are probably aware, the mortgage industry is going through a major disruption. In response to these market conditions and to enable ******* to continue to serve our customers; we have made changes to our loan eligibility, appraisal rates and repricing of loans in the pipeline.
- Rate exceptions by AE's will no longer be allowed
- Only full doc loans allowed
- No Non OO (Owner Occupied) and second homes allowed
- Increased disposable income requirements on D/R's > 50% from $2000 to $3000
- No refinances of Vacant Properties
- No refinances of properties listed for sale in the last 3 months
- Limited ltv's on homes listed for sale > than 3 mos but less than 6mos for cash out refi's
- Loans in the pipeline will be repriced according to the current rate sheet unless they are in '"docs out" status or are Purchase transaction types in "Conditional Approval"
- All loans in the pipeline that are NOT O/O Full Doc must fund by August 17
- Appraisals must be less than 90 days old
- Appraisals must contain 1 comp sale <>
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