Things to Know

Zero Down Loans Making a Comeback

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"DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, JUNE 15, 2017

Your buyers may soon be able to bring less to closing. They were blamed for precipitating the housing crisis years ago, but major lenders are giving no- and low-down payment loans another shot.

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Several major lenders are reportedly offering loans with just 1 percent down. Navy Federal, the nation’s largest credit union, offers its members zero-down mortgages in amounts up to $1 million. NASA Federal Credit Union markets zero-down mortgages as well. Quicken Loans, the third highest volume lender, offers 1 percent down payment options, as does United Wholesale Mortgage. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has offered zero-down loans to eligible borrowers for many years.

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Also, Movement Mortgage, a large national lender, has introduced a financing option that provides eligible first-time buyers with a nonrepayable grant of up to 3 percent. As such, applicants can qualify for a 97 percent loan-to-value ratio conventional mortgage, which is basically zero from the buyers and 3 percent from Movement. For example, on a $300,000 home purchase, a borrower could invest zero personal funds with Movement providing $9,000 down. The loan also allows sellers to contribute toward the buyer’s closing costs.

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So far, the delinquency rates on these low- to zero-down payment loans have been minimal, according to lenders. Quicken Loans says its 1 percent down loans have a delinquency rate of less than a one-quarter of 1 percent. United Wholesale Mortgages told The Washington Post that it has had zero delinquencies from the borrowers on its 1-percent down loan since debuting it last summer.

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For Movement’s new loan product, the lender will originate the loans and then sell them to Fannie Mae, which remains under federal conservatorship. Fannie officials released the following a statement: “(We’re) committed to working with our customers to increase affordable, sustainable lending to creditworthy borrowers. We continue to work with a number of lenders to launch test-and-learn that require 97 percent loan-to-value ratio for all loans we acquire.” They add that there “is no commitment beyond the pilots," which are “focused on reaching more low- to-moderate income borrowers through responsible yet creative solutions.”

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During the housing crisis, zero-down loans wereamong the biggest losses for lenders, investors, and borrowers. However, housing experts say the latest versions are different from years ago. Applicants must now demonstrate an ability to repay what’s owed. They also must have stellar credit histories and scores, and lenders require a lot more documentation to prove borrowers are in good standing. Also, many of the programs are charging higher interest rates. For example, Movement’s rate for its zero-down payment option in mid-June was 4.5 percent to 4.625 percent, compared with 4 percent for its standard fixed-rate mortgages.

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Some critics say that the borrowers who really could benefit from such options aren’t able to qualify for them. Paul Skeens, president of Colonial Mortgage Corp. in Waldorf, Md., told The Washington Post that “it seems like people without excellent credit scores and three months of [bank] reserves don’t qualify.”

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Source: “No Down Payment? No Problem, Say Lenders Eager to Finance Home Purchases,” The Washington Post (June 14, 2017)"

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