For Mortgages, 620 is The New Magic Number
Near historic low mortgage rates, favorable home prices, and the federal tax credit for first-time home buyers have contributed to home purchases in the past year. However, the onset of the credit crisis, new regulations for home appraisals, and more stringent guidelines for purchases and refinances have resulted in confusion for some potential home buyers.
While using a mortgage broker to find the best loan may work for some buyers, it may not always be the best route. In the past, mortgage brokers could “shop” a loan to multiple lenders to help find the best deal. However, new practices and procedures under the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) have hampered mortgage brokers’ abilities, namely that lenders may no longer accept home appraisals commissioned by brokers. As a result, consumers may have to pay for new appraisals with each lender, which costs time and money. However, consumers who are very busy or need guidance may find that working with a mortgage broker is the easiest solution.
Qualifying for a mortgage under current lender standards is more difficult nowadays than in years past. Beginning Nov. 1 or Dec. 12, depending on the type of loan, Fannie Mae is tightening its lending standards to the 620 credit score benchmark—including loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs. Borrowers with credit scores of less than 620 will find it very difficult to qualify for a mortgage. However, to qualify for the best rates, consumers generally need credit scores of 720 and must have verifiable, steady income.
As for loan type, most real estate professionals agree that a fixed-rate mortgage is the best choice for buyers and refinancers.
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