How Can A Temporary Buydown Help Realtors and Agents?
That was a question I got. The answer is that it shouldn't make a difference, but it does. You see, lenders who work in markets that are less than A paper perform qualification calculations based upon the initial payment, at least until some pending regulations take effect. Furthermore, I'm about 180 degrees from convinced that it's really helping anyone.
Here's how it works and why it works. Less than A paper lenders currently perform their calculations as to whether or not a specific borrower qualifies based only upon the initial payment. Let's say the loan contemplated is an interest only 2/28 at a teaser rate of 6% that's going to jump to 8% in two years when it starts amortizing (even if the underlying index stays exactly where it is), and the loan amount contemplated is $250,000. This makes for a monthly payment of $1250. Because this fits within the guideline Debt to Income Ratio guidelines, usually 50% for sub-prime, they can qualify and get the loan approved. But in two years when the loan adjusts and starts to amortize, the payment jumps to $1866.90. This is not certain, but it's far from the worst case possible. It is what will happen if the financial indexes don't change, and so a good default guess, as nobody knows where the indexes will be in two years. If you know where the indexes will be in two years, please call me. With that knowledge and mine, we can make enough money for our grandchildren to retire on. Guaranteed. Because nobody else knows where the market will be in two years.
So the upshot is that even though the payment is predictably going to increase by essentially fifty percent (49.35) in two years, to a level this particular prospective borrower does not qualify for, this loan will likely be approved under current sub-prime guidelines.
There are banking regulation changes pending to change the qualification procedure, forcing all lenders, rather than only "A paper" ones, to perform their qualification computations based upon the fact that the payments on these loans are certain to increase. These regulations are long overdue in my honest opinion, but they are not in effect as of this writing. Under current guidelines, this loan would be approved. Actually, the directive that forces "A paper" to underwrite these loans based upon the higher payments currently comes from Fannie and Freddie, not the regulators, and is one reason why hybrid ARMS at a lower interest rate are actually harder to qualify for than fixed rate loans in the "A paper" world.
Nor is this 2/28 teaser loan what is generally meant by a "buydown", although it is one of the things the phrase has been misapplied to. A true buydown is a temporary reduction in rate on a fixed rate loan, purchased by means of discount points paid up front. As I explained in the linked article, these buydowns typically cost more than they are really worth to the client in terms of dollars. Indeed, they are most often used in conjunction with VA Loans, where because up to three percent of closing costs over and above purchase price can be rolled into the loan with no money out of the veteran's pockets, the typical veteran sees only the reduction in payments, not the costs, which are real and they did pay, albeit, due to an accounting trick, with money out of their future equity and not with money out of their savings.
However, due to the fact that most people shop houses and loans based upon payment, the reduction in payments makes it look like they can afford a more expensive house than they should in fact buy. That temporary buydown is going to expire, certain as gravity, and the clients are going to end up making those higher payments. There is precisely zero uncertainty about it. If they can't afford them, the bad consequences will still happen, precisely as if the buydown had never been. All of the tricks of the past decade to defuse this were based upon falling interest rates and rapidly rising real estate values. Lest you not understand, these are never acceptable reasons for betting someone else's financial future, as so many agents and loan officers did. If you are a real estate and financial sophisticate who understands the risks, it is one thing to bet your own financial future. It is never acceptable to bet the future of someone else, particularly if they are not an expert, without a frank discussion of those risks and advising them to get the opinions of disinterested experts.
This whole idea of temporary buydowns is bad because it allows the less scrupulous real estate professionals to encourage buyers and borrowers to overextend themselves. Now that the general public is waking up to the downsides of negative amortization loans and stated income loans, these are one of the few remaining ways to make it appear as if people qualify for a more expensive property because of a higher dollar value loan, than they do in fact qualify for by objective consideration of the guidelines. This particular way of pushing the guidelines isn't as extreme as the previously mentioned ones, and doesn't push the bottom line on what they can make it look like people can afford by as much, but if these people could sell people based upon what they really qualify for, they wouldn't be playing these sorts of games with the numbers.
Furthermore, if these folks could really afford the full payments on the loans being contemplated, there are better loans to be doing. Without that interest only rider on the 2/28, I could buy the interest rate down by at least a quarter of a percent on the same loan type. For that matter, I can quite likely get a thirty year fixed rate loan for that same borrower at a lower rate than the 2/28 will jump to in the default case of the underlying indexes going exactly nowhere. For the true temporary buydown, without my borrowers paying those three points of upfront cost, I could cut those borrowers real, permanent rate on that fixed rate loan by at least three quarters of a percent, probably more. Whether even that is worth doing is highly questionable, but at least it's an open question worthy of discussion with a possible case for "yes" that a reasonable person can defend with numbers, not a mathematically certain "no way!" Show me someone who uses buydowns for their clients habitually, and I'll show you a serial financial rapist.
In short, temporary buydowns don't really help anyone, except maybe the seller who can unload their house to someone who shouldn't be able to qualify. Not buyers or borrowers, who are encouraged to stretch beyond their means through their use. Not lenders, brokers, or agents, due to these problems that people were in denial about for a very long time coming home to roost, meaning that those who practice in this manner will very likely be subject to auditors and regulators in the near future.
Buy My Science Fiction Novels!
Dan Melson Author Page
The Man From Empire
A Guardian From Earth
Empire and Earth
Working The Trenches
Preparing The Ground
The Book on Mortgages Everyone Should Have!
What Consumers Need To Know About Mortgages
The Book on Buying Real Estate Everyone Should Have
What Consumers Need To Know About Buying Real Estate
Want San Diego MLS?
Add to Technorati Favorites