Real Estate Loan Market August 2007: Subprime Meltdown Continues

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While the subprime meltdown continues, A paper rates have actually dropped a little bit in recent weeks.

Subprime is in a world of hurt. Lenders are fleeing the market for below average credit in droves. It seems like every day, we lose the capability to do something or other, and the rates have gotten high as well. I just priced a 580 credit score on an 85% loan. Rate/term, no cash out. Six months ago, I could have found something around 7% par. Today's best rate? 10.7% at par.

The last several years, with real estate values rapidly appreciating, it was hard for lenders to lose money. Even if the property did go into foreclosure, it would have appreciated in the meantime, and the lender would get their money. That's no longer the case. Properties aren't appreciating, and as a result, subprime lenders are now having to price loans for the borrowers to bear the full risk of their low credit score.

I've been saying for some time that if you don't have good credit, the rates are going to have to rise. That prediction has now come true. As of when I'm writing this, I could do that same loan A paper at 6.25 at par. Cost of having a below average credit score? 4.45 percent! If your loan balance was $400,000, that equates to $17,800 per year in increased cost of interest!

Alternatively, that below average credit score means that instead of a $400,000 loan someone with good credit and a monthly income of about $7000 can afford, you can only afford a $265,000 loan. Instead of a 3 bedroom house with a decent size lot, you're in a two bedroom condo, at best! If you could have paid the bills but chose not to, you have only yourself to blame. It's hard for me to imagine anything but a house or a business that's worth spending that kind of money, and credit scores can be improved if you're willing to try.

Furthermore, it's getting harder to find subprime lenders willing to loan at high Loan to Value ratio (or CLTV). This means that you have to have a bigger down payment than someone with a better credit score. I can still do 100% loans, usually split 80/20, pretty darned easy if you qualify for A paper. It's getting to the point where it's a waste of breath to ask subprime lenders for 100% financing. This means that you can either have a substantial down payment, or you can improve your credit, or you can remain a renter. Given the economic advantages of home ownership, you don't want to remain a renter. Of the remaining two options, it's usually quicker and easier to improve your credit than it is to save 10% of the price of a $400,000 property. How quickly could you save $40,000 if you had to?

Stated Income, especially for low credit scores and high Loan to Value Ratios, is rapidly going the way of the dodo. 100 percent stated income is essentially gone. The lenders want you to have some serious equity, so that if the property gets foreclosed upon, they're likely to get their money back. The lower your credit score, the more of a down payment you're going to need. negative amortization loans are finally hitting this wall, as well. Not only do those lenders living on those abominations want a higher rate, they also want you to have enough equity so that they're going to get every penny when they foreclose. As a result, fewer people are willing to sign up for them, and fewer still qualify, a development I am all in favor of.

Lenders, specifically sub-prime lenders, have in the past few months suddenly re-awakened to the possibility that they're going to lose money in the real estate market. Those who have been advising people that they're not risking anything with 100% purchase money loans because "purchase money loans are non-recourse" are soon going to be the subject of court and regulatory action, not to mention that the lenders are no longer willing to cater to that line of thinking - at least not for those who have demonstrated that their credit rating isn't important to them.

It is not difficult to qualify A paper. I have in the past done A paper loans with 100% financing at a 630 credit score. More people qualify A paper than think they do - and if you'll work at it, getting yourself a thoroughly acceptable credit score of 680 or better usually doesn't take very long. Now, more than in the last few years anyway, being able to show that you make a habit of paying your bills on time is worth some serious money. It also means you can get the loan now, instead of several months in the future at best. And, as tomorrow's article will attest, you really want to buy now if you can.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on August 7, 2007 10:01 AM.

Competing Offers From The Same Agent was the previous entry in this blog.

San Diego Real Estate Market Prognosis August 2007 is the next entry in this blog.

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