Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mortgage Rates Spike Quarter Percent

30 year fixed mortgage rates have risen a quarter point this week to 4.25% on plummeting mortgage-backed securities prices. MBS prices drive mortgage rates in the opposite direction. Conventional 15 year fixed interest rates are also up a quarter of a percent and are at 3.75% currently for well-qualified borrowers who pay a standard .07 to 1 point origination. Both fixed mortgage rates are up substantially from last week and at an immediate risk to rise further.

FHA loan rates move with conforming mortgage rates and are also up this week. Today's 30 year fixed FHA loan rate is at 4.125%, up from 4%. Although the same note rate is available on an FHA 30 year fixed mortgage as a conforming 30 year fixed loan, MI and other fees charged by the Federal Housing Administration make APR higher on an FHA mortgage.

Jumbo mortgage rates are unchanged. The current jumbo 30 year fixed rate is 4.875%
Wells Fargo, the nation's number one originator by volume, adjusted their advertised 30 year fixed rate from 4.25% to 4.625% with an APR of 4.812. surveys wholesale and direct lenders' rate sheets to determine the most accurate mortgage interest rates available to well-qualified consumers who pay an industry standard .07 to 1 point origination. These rates are commonly referred to as "par rates" by mortgage loan officers.

Appraisers up Next for 'Wall Street Reform' Brand of Regulatory Do-Over

Tolling the death knell for the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC), the Federal Reserve Board recently announced final regulatory orders for real estate appraisers.

The interim final rule for appraisers, part of the massive federal regulatory overhaul known as "Wall Street Reform" (officially, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), is designed to keep appraisers independent, free from third party pressure, honest and compensated fairly.

We'll see.

The Fed's interim final rule:

• Prohibits coercion and other similar actions designed to cause appraisers to base the appraised value of properties on factors other than their independent judgment.

• Prohibits appraisers and appraisal management companies hired by lenders from having financial or other interests in the properties or the credit transactions.

• Prohibits creditors from extending credit based on appraisals if they know beforehand of violations involving appraiser coercion or conflicts of interest, unless the creditors determine that the values of the properties are not materially misstated.

• Requires that creditors or settlement service providers that have information about appraiser misconduct file reports with the appropriate state licensing authorities.

• Requires the payment of reasonable and customary compensation to appraisers who are not employees of the creditors or of the appraisal management companies hired by the creditors.
Appraisers have been heavily pressured years -- before, during and after the boom -- to do the home valuation bidding of mortgage lenders, real estate agents, even buyers, sellers and refinancing homeowners who needed home values based on risky assumptions rather than true worth factors.

Bowing to pressure to over-value homes was one of the factors contributing thehousing market crash that spawned the greatest recession since the Great Depression.

Amid howls from appraisers and other real estate industry quarters, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) implemented HVCC in May 2009, after the housing bust, purportedly to improve the independence of appraisers by prohibiting lenders and third parties from influencing appraisers' work.

Unfortunately, the code of conduct cut deeply into appraisers' income and, as the housing market floundered, it worsened working conditions for honest, hard working appraisers, who have since been looking forward to new regulations.

Appraisers deemed the HVCC as a bogus effort to clean up the industry, because it didn't focus enough on appraiser competency; it undercut professional relationships between honest appraisers and reputable mortgage professionals; it increased the influence of bottom-line oriented appraisal management companies; and it encouraged the use of glossed-over appraisals that didn't reflect the true value of a property.

By and large, for those and other reasons, real estate agents, new home builders, even mortgage brokers and others likewise detested HVCC.

In advance of the new interim rules, Fannie Mae, working FHFA and Freddie Mac released its own Appraiser Independence Requirements -- new rules for mortgage companies selling loans to the government-sponsored enterprises -- which also overwrite HVCC rules.

Fannie's rules are in line with the new federal regulations, but all conventional, single-family mortgage loans must still be in compliance with HVCC until the release of the final Federal Reserve rules, effective April 1, 2011.

A public comment period on the new rules ends in December, but the interim rules will likely take hold with few changes.


It is a great time to buy for many would-be homeowners. The market offers historically low interest rates, as well as affordable home prices.

Here are 10 steps that buyers can take to make home dreams a reality!

1. Savings. You may already know how much monthly payment you can support (experts recommend no more than 1/3 your monthly income), but the buying process will also include upfront costs, such as a downpayment and closing costs.

2. Downpayment options. Do you qualify for downpayment assistance programs? Will you be able to get an FHA loan and pay 3.5 percent down? Do you have a relative that would like to make a downpayment gift? Many financial experts recommend a downpayment of 20 percent, so be sure to explore your options!

3. Check Credit Report. Your credit report says a lot about you. Lenders use it to evaluate your risk potential and to inform themselves on how responsible of a borrower you are. They use this report and subsequent score to figure your interest rate. The more stellar your report, the better your score and thus lower your rate. Be sure to check your report for accuracy, and report any errors to the credit reporting agencies.

4. Get Prequalified. It's time to talk to a lender! Pre-qualification will give you a ballpark figure of how much the bank would be willing to lend you. Are you looking for a $100,000 house or a $300,000?

5. Get Preapproved. This is the official letter from the lender that says they willbe willing to lend you money. Many sellers look for buyers who are preapproved.

6. Affordability. The bank may tell you that you can afford a home worth $300,000. This does not mean you want to borrow to your max. A more modest home may fit better in your financial plans.

7. Housing Criteria. You have a budget, now develop a list of what you need and want. This can include anything from "must have 3 bedrooms" to "hardwoods" or "granite".

8. Neighborhood choice. Location strongly affects prices. A 3,000 square foot home in rural Kansas costs a fraction of one in New York City. Decide what neighborhoods and areas are the best fit for you. This will help narrow your home search.

9. Hire an agent. An agent can help you navigate the entire process from searching, putting in offers, to where to hire an inspector or general contractors.

10. Start the search! The MLS is a wonderful place to begin your search. Eighty-four percent of buyers now start their search online, so you'll be in good company.