Out of nowhere, or so it seemed, the United States of America developed a mortgage and credit crisis. It is now and will be forever known as the "Subprime Mortgage" crisis. The fact that very little of it had to do with the Subprime Mortgage Business is irrelevant and will not be delved into in this column. One small note: (I can't resist) the option arm is not a subprime loan. The two biggest lenders featuring the option arm were Countrywide and Washington Mutual. Although both had subprime division I do not believe that the option arm was offered by either of these divisions. But I digress.
Once the pain started in earnest the populous screamed, Congress heard and acted and the two GSE's, government sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, took the challenge that they were given. Buy more mortgage loans at higher than conforming loan limits. They were given the area between $417,000, the current conforming loan limit, and $729,750 to work their magic with the new loans that now and forever more will be known as jumbo/conforming loans. Everything was in place to bring us out of the "Subprime Mortgage" crisis. This wouldn't be a very interesting piece, however, if everything went right and the crisis was over. So I am here to report something went wrong!
It began with a new set of criteria for conforming loans that appeared out of nowhere.
The new rules weren't here one day, but lo and behold, they came the next day. They would make things better for all that were hurting, yes? Not exactly. They actually would make things worse for those who were hurting. And so the story begins. There was a small reward for those who especially were in good shape and a large penalty for those who weren't. If you have a 720 credit score or higher you of course are one of the great credit risks in this country. Add to that if you have a 60% loan to value while the real estate prices are falling then meeting both criteria, you are rewarded and can perhaps get a lower interest rate on a 20 year, 30 year or 40 year amortized loan of up to an eighth of a point.
On the other hand if you have a good credit score 660-679 and a reasonable loan to value in a falling real estate environment, 70%, you will be penalized a quarter of a point to as much as 5/8 of a point. Was this what Congress had in mind? Actually Congress was only interested in the new conforming/jumbos but had they been interested in the old conforming loans I do not think this is what they had in mind. Why did Fannie and Freddie do this?
It is the same old answer you have heard many times before: because they could!
Roger Schlesinger's Mortgage Minute is heard on hundreds of radio stations and daily on the Hugh Hewitt radio show and Michael Medved shows. Roger interacts with his hosts and explores the complicated financial markets in order to enlighten his listeners and direct them along their own unique road to financial freedom.
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