FICO® Scores And Your Mortgage

Years ago, credit scoring had little to do with mortgage lending. When reviewing the credit worthiness of a borrower, an underwriter would make a subjective decision based on past payment history.

Then things changed.

Lenders studied the relationship between credit scores and mortgage delinquencies. There was a definite relationship. Almost half of those borrowers with FICO® scores below 550 became ninety days delinquent at least once during their mortgage. On the other hand, only two out of every 10,000 borrowers with FICO® scores above eight hundred became delinquent.

So lenders began to take a closer look at FICO® scores and this is what they found out. The chart below shows the likelihood of a ninety day delinquency for specific FICO® scores.

FICO® Score Odds of a Delinquent Account

  • 595         2 to 1
  • 600         4 to 1
  • 615         9 to 1
  • 630         18 to 1
  • 645         36 to 1
  • 660         72 to 1
  • 680         144 to 1
  • 780         576 to 1

If you were lending a couple hundred thousand dollars, who would you want to lend it to?

FICO® Scores, What Affects Them, How Lenders Look At Them

Imagine a busy lending office and a loan officer has just ordered a credit report. He hears the whir of the laser printer and he knows the pages of the credit report are going to start spitting out in just a second. There is a moment of tension in the air. He watches the pages stack up in the collection tray, but he waits to pick them up until all of the pages are finished printing. He waits because FICO® scores are located at the end of the report. Previously, he would have probably picked them up as they came off. A FICO® above 700 will evoke a smile, then a grin, perhaps a shout and a “victory” style arm pump in the air. A score below 600 will definitely result in a frown, a furrowed brow, and concern.

FICO® stands for Fair Isaac & Company, and credit scores are reported by each of the three major credit bureaus: TRW (Experian), Equifax, and Trans-Union. The score does not come up exactly the same on each bureau because each bureau places a slightly different emphasis on different items. Scores range from 365 to 840.

Some of the things that affect your FICO® scores:

  • Delinquencies
  • Too many accounts opened within the last twelve months
  • Short credit history
  • Balances on revolving credit are near the maximum limits
  • Public records, such as tax liens, judgments, or bankruptcies
  • No recent credit card balances
  • Too many recent credit inquiries
  • Too few revolving accounts
  • Too many revolving accounts

Sounds confusing, doesn’t it?

The credit score is actually calculated using a scorecard where you receive points for certain things. Creditors and lenders who view your credit report do not get to see the scorecard, so they do not know exactly how your score was calculated. They just see the final scores.

Basic guidelines on how to view the FICO® scores vary a little from lender to lender. Usually, a score above 680 will require a very basic review of the entire loan package. Scores between 640 and 680 require more thorough underwriting. Once a score gets below 640, an underwriter will look at a loan application with a more cautious approach. Many lenders will not even consider a loan with a FICO® score below 600, some as high as 620.

FICO® Scores and Interest Rates

Credit scores can affect more than whether your loan gets approved or not. They can also affect how much you pay for your loan, too. Some lenders establish a base price and will reduce the points on a loan if the credit score is above a certain level. For example, one major national lender reduces the cost of a loan by a quarter point if the FICO® score is greater than 725. If it is between 700 and 724, they will reduce the cost by one-eighth of a point. A point is equal to one percent of the loan amount.

There are other lenders who do it in reverse. They establish their base price, but instead of reducing the cost for good FICO® scores, they add on costs for lower FICO® scores. The results from either method would work out to be approximately the same interest rate. It is just that the second way looks better when you are quoting interest rates on a rate sheet or in an advertisement.

FICO® SCORES AND MORTGAGE UNDERWRITING DECISIONS

FICO® Scores as Guidelines

FICO® scores are only guidelines and factors other than FICO® scores also affect underwriting decisions. Some examples of compensating factors that will make an underwriter more lenient toward lower FICO® scores can be a larger down payment, low debt-to-income ratios, an excellent history of saving money, and others. There also may be a reasonable explanation for items on the credit history report that negatively impact your credit score.

They Don’t Always Make Sense

Even so, sometimes credit scores do not seem to make any sense at all. One borrower with a completely flawless credit history can have a FICO® score below 600. One borrower with a foreclosure on her credit report can have a FICO® above 780.

Portfolio & Sub-Prime Lenders

Finally, there are a few portfolio lenders who do not even look at credit scoring, at least on their portfolio loans. A portfolio lender is usually a savings & loan institution that originates some adjustable rate mortgages that they intend to keep in their own portfolio rather than selling them in the secondary mortgage market. These lenders may look at home loans differently. Some concentrate on the value of the home. Some may concentrate more on the savings history of the borrower. There are also sub-prime lenders, or “B & C paper” lenders, who will provide a home loan, but at a higher interest rate and cost.

Running Credit Reports

One thing to remember when you are shopping for a home loan is that you should not let numerous mortgage lenders run credit reports on you. Wait until you have a reasonable expectation that they are the lender you are going to use to obtain your home loan. Not only will you have to explain any credit inquiries in the last ninety days, but also numerous inquiries will lower your FICO® score by a small amount. This may not matter if your FICO® is 780, but it would matter if it is 642.

Don’t Buy A Car Just Before Looking for a Home!

A word of advice not directly related to FICO® scores. When people begin to think about the possibility of buying a home, they often think about buying other big-ticket items, such as cars. Quite often when someone asks a lender to pre-qualify them for a home loan there is a brand new car payment on the credit report. Often, they would have qualified in their anticipated price range except that the new car payment has raised their debt-to-income ratio, lowering their maximum purchase price. Sometimes they have bought the car so recently that the new loan doesn’t even show up on the credit report yet, but with six to eight credit inquiries from car dealers and automobile finance companies it is kind of obvious. Almost every time you sit down in a car dealership, it generates two inquiries into your credit.

Credit History is Important

Nowadays, credit scores are important if you want to get the best interest rate available. Protect your FICO® score. Do not open new revolving accounts needlessly. Do not fill out credit applications needlessly. Do not keep your credit cards nearly maxed out. Make sure you do use your credit occasionally. Always make sure every creditor has their payment in their office no later than 29 days past due.

And never ever be more than thirty days late on your mortgage. Ever.

Still interested in understanding more when it comes to your FICO® score? If so, contact our office at 843-945-0051 and someone will be able to explain more in depth of what a FICO® score is and how it works! With that said, “We have great challenges & great opportunities, and with our help we’ll meet them together!” – Jason Pries

China: Friend or Foe

For all the headlines surrounding geopolitical and trade tensions with China, it also remains one of the world’s most important markets and one that’s vitally important to many American companies. Chinese consumer confidence hit a ten year high in 2019. But as happy as stock investors might be to see the globe’s second largest economy happily buying luxury goods, trips and food, a recent McKinsey & Company survey (China Consumer Report 2020) shows that consumer tastes in China are evolving. Like U.S. millennial’s, the digital native generation in China is increasingly health conscious and a more discerning customer.

In this era of increasing globalization, “domestic stock” is often a bit of a misnomer. Large cap domestic companies sell and manufacture more of their products in China than they do here in the United States. Here are some factoids about China that might encourage you to pay closer attention to China:

  • If measured by purchasing power parity, China is the world’s largest economy.
  • The Chinese population is 1.384 billion, compared with 329 million in United States (as of 7/2018).
  • Sales on November 11 (Singles’ Day) in 2020 were $58 billion, double the projected sales number of $29 billion in the US for the entire Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday period.
  • The IMF projects the Chinese economy will grow by 22% from 2019 to 2021 to $17.762 trillion. China’s growth in GDP in 2015 was equal to the GDP of Switzerland.
  • KFC (YUM) is the most popular fast food chain in China, followed by McDonald’s. (Business Insider recommends we try KFC’s Dragon Twister.)
  • General Motors sold 26.5 million vehicles in China in 2018, versus 21.5 in North America.
  • In the mood for your daily Starbucks fix? There are 4,000 locations in China.

Our media overemphasizes China’s centralized government and suppression of individual freedom and understates popular support for the current system. Riots in Hong Kong against mainland control also give the impression that the current government is under siege. That is untrue. China’s citizens generally support their government’s policies and perceive the U.S. as unfairly demonizing China due to its rapid growth. That’s leading to boycotts against U.S. brands. Domestic Chinese brands have steadily improved in quality, leading to a shift in consumer preference towards their domestic products.

Some psychology studies indicate we overweight familiar information and discount things we have trouble understanding. It’s tempting to dismiss China due to its distance and different culture, but that would be a mistake. For many companies, China is the elephant in the room. If we’re to make informed investment decisions, we need to see that elephant as it is.

To Infinity & Beyond

Bull Market – To Infinity & Beyond

This will almost sound like a broken record, but once again I hold not one single short position, in anything. I’m long U.S. and global stocks. But also managing cash and portfolio balance as usual while feeling as though I’m playing a game of Musical Chairs while the music still plays (did you catch the pun… Broken record, music still plays. I know, I’m here all night).

I have long equity positions because in a manic up phase I have little interest in eroding the situation with short hedging. Besides, gold stocks are doing that balancing job right now and that balancing act has been working well since June.

Below is an annual chart of the $SPX (each bar = a year) going back 92ish years. Long enough periods which included many crises, panics + wars – yet how many red bars do you see? Nobody knows when the next red bar will show up; but in the grand scheme of things, does it matter? We can also see the 2008 crash as merely a blip.

Equities

People will say… Just stay in and prosper! No problem in real time because the U.S. stock market always comes back… ALWAYS. This is the kind of stuff that appears near tops; like stuff that uses ultra-long-term yearly charts in log scale to smooth out the problems. So the next time this happens, try to forget that it was caused by epic policy distortions within the system and just remember it’s actually a smooth ride assuming the next thing is like the last thing and you live long enough to reap the benefits. The Macro Tourist notes in a recent blog that CNBC anchor Becky Quick got into something of a competition with her wealth manager guest, who is only 80% exposed to stocks. Becky’s all-in at 100%!

However, I would like to point out that Becky was not bragging about this allocation at any time during the past decade. No, she has chosen December 2019 with the S&P 500 up more than 360% since the bottom to let us know about her over-allocation.

Herein lays my point. Just like this summer when bonds had already ripped 13 handles higher, market participants usually express this sort of arrogance at points when they feel confident. Extremely confident.

What do I take from this? It’s not the time to be reaching for exposure. I don’t need to know anything else except that CNBC anchors are competing with their guests about the size of their stock allocations.

And of course there was the president with his dangerous “409 K” tweet taunting people as if merely performing in line with the S&P 500 (as opposed to near doubling its performance), which was a failure.

Conclusion, it’s a manic upside with investment managers all aboard, newsletters all aboard, CNBC anchors all aboard and all those discount brokerages that opened during the real sentiment blow off in January 2018.

These sentiment knee-jerks have refreshed the market on very short-term bases. It’s dangerous but as of in the now still ongoing and racing up the mountain.

With that said, “We have great challenges & great opportunities, and with our help we’ll meet them together!” – Jason Pries

Advantages Of Different Lenders

WHAT KIND OF LENDER IS BEST?

If you ask a loan officer, “What kind of lender is best?” the answer will be whatever kind of company he works for and he will give you a list of reasons why. If you meet the same loan officer years later, and he works for a different kind of lender, he will give you a list of reasons why that type of lender is better.

REALTORS® will also have differing opinions, and those opinions have and will continue to change over time. In the past, it seemed like most would recommend portfolio lenders. Now, they usually recommend mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers. Most often they direct you to a specific loan officer who has demonstrated a track record of service and reliability.

This article discusses the advantages and disadvantage of different types of institutions, not the individual loan officers. However, it is often more important to choose the correct loan officer, not the institution. The loan officer has many responsibilities, one of which is to act as your representative and advocate to the lender he works for or the institutions he brokers loans to. You want someone who has proven dependable and ethical in the past.

Regarding the institutions, the truth of the matter is that each type of lender has strengths and weaknesses. This does not even take into account the variety of other factors that influence whether a lender is good or bad. Quality can vary, depending on the loan officer, the support staff, which branch or office you are obtaining your loan from, and a variety of other factors.

PORTFOLIO LENDERS

Savings & Loans are quite often portfolio lenders, as are some banks. Portfolio lenders generally promote their own portfolio loans, which are usually adjustable rate loans. They will often pay more compensation to their loan officers for originating a portfolio product than for originating a fixed rate loan. You may also find that they are not as competitive as mortgage bankers and brokers in the fixed rate loan market.

However, it is often easier to qualify for a portfolio loan, so borrowers who may not qualify for a fixed rate loan may be able to obtain a loan from a portfolio lender. A borrower may be able to qualify for a larger loan from a portfolio lender than he could obtain from a fixed rate lender.

Portfolio lenders also can serve as niche lenders because certain things are more important to them than meeting the more standardized underwriting guidelines of a mortgage banker. An example would be a savings & loan, which is more concerned with an individual’s savings history than being able to fully document income and other things.

If you apply for a loan with a portfolio lender and you are declined, you usually have to start the process over with a new company.

MORTGAGE BANKERS

If we are talking about the larger mortgage bankers, you can count on them having several strengths. For the biggest ones, you will recognize the brand name.

Usually, they are much better at promoting special first time buyer programs offered by states and local governments, that have lower interest rates and costs than the current market rate. These programs are often available to buyers who have not owned a home in the last three years and fall within certain income guidelines.

Mortgage bankers may incur problems because they are just too big to manage, or they may operate like well-oiled machines.

If you are buying a home and you need a VA or FHA loan and the development you are buying in has not yet been approved, they will be better at getting it approved than other lenders.

If your home loan is declined for some reason, many mortgage bankers allow their loan officers to broker the loan to another institution. However, because your loan officer is so used to promoting the company’s product, he may not be familiar with which institution may be the best one to submit your loan to. Another reason is because wholesale lenders do not expect to get many loans from direct mortgage bankers, so they do not expend much marketing effort on them.

BANKS and SAVINGS & LOANS

Their major strength is that you will recognize their name. In addition, they will usually be operating as a mortgage banker, a portfolio lender, or both, and have the same weaknesses and strengths.

MORTGAGE BROKERS

The major strength of mortgage brokers is that they can shop the wholesale lenders for the best rate much easier than a borrower can. They also learn the “hot points” of certain wholesale lenders and can handpick the lender for a borrower that may be unique in some way. He will be able to advise you whether your loan should be submitted to a portfolio lender or a mortgage banker. Another advantage is that, if a loan gets declined for some reason, they can simply repackage the loan and submit it to another wholesale lender.

One additional advantage is that mortgage brokers tend to attract a high number of the most qualified loan officers. This is not universal because mortgage brokers also serve as the training ground for those just entering the business. If you have a new loan officer and there is something unique about you or the property you are buying, there could be a problem on the horizon that an experienced loan officer would have anticipated.

A disadvantage is that mortgage brokers sometimes attract the greediest loan officers, too. They may charge you more on your loan, which would then nullify the ability of the mortgage broker being able to shop for the lowest rate.

WHOLESALE LENDERS

Borrowers cannot get access to the wholesale divisions of mortgage bankers and portfolio lenders without going through a broker.

WHEN REALTORS® OR BUILDERS RECOMMEND A LENDER

If your REALTOR® or builder makes a suggestion for a lender, be sure to talk to that lender. One reason REALTORS® and builders make suggestions is the fact that they have regular dealings with this lender and have come to expect a certain amount of reliability. Reliability is extremely important to all parties involved in a real estate transaction.

On the other hand, a recent trend in mortgage lending has been for real estate companies and builders to own their own mortgage companies or create “controlled business arrangements” (CBA’s) in order to increase their profitability. These mortgage brokers sometimes become used to having what is essentially a captured market and may not necessarily offer you the lowest rates or costs.

Some real estate companies also offer different types of incentives to their REALTORS® in exchange for recommending their company-owned mortgage and escrow companies or lenders with whom they have CBA’s. Dealing with one of these lenders is not necessarily a bad thing, though. The builder or Real Estate Company often feels they have more ability to expedite matters when they own the company or have a controlled business relationship. They cannot usually influence the underwriting decision, but they can sometimes cut through red tape to handle problems or speed up the process. Builders are especially forceful on having you use their lender. One reason is that there are certain intricacies in dealing with new homes. If you use a loan officer who usually deals with refinances or resale home loans, he may not even be aware of how different it is to close a mortgage on a new home and this can lead to problems or delays.

It is in your interest to know if there is any kind of ownership relationship or controlled business arrangement between the real estate or builder and the lender, so be sure to ask. Do not automatically disqualify such a lender, but be sure to be more vigilant on getting the best interest rate and the lowest costs.

CONCLUSION

Make sure to do a little shopping. By knowing the interest rates in your market and making sure your loan officer knows you are looking at rates from other institutions, you can use that as leverage to make sure you are obtaining the best combination of service and the lowest rates.

Still interested in understanding more when it comes to the advantages of different types of mortgage lenders? If so, contact Tina Pries at 843-999-1570 and she will be able to explain more in depth of what you want to expect from a mortgage lender in order to get you the best rates on your next real estate asset purchase! It’s never too late to work with “Your very own Real Estate Investor Agent!” – Tina Pries

Types Of Mortgage Lenders

MORTGAGE BANKERS

Mortgage Bankers are lenders that are large enough to originate loans and create pools of loans, which are then sold directly to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, jumbo loan investors, and others. Any company that does this is considered to be a mortgage banker.

Some companies don’t sell directly to those major investors, but sell their loans to the mortgage bankers. They often refer to themselves as mortgage bankers as well. Since they are actually engaging in the selling of loans, there is some justification for using this label. The point is that you cannot reliably determine the size or strength of a particular lender based on whether or not they identify themselves as a mortgage banker.

PORTFOLIO LENDERS

An institution that lends their own money and originates loans for itself is called a portfolio lender. This is because they are lending for their own portfolio of loans and not worried about being able to immediately sell them on the secondary market. Because of this, they don’t have to obey Fannie/Freddie guidelines and can create their own rules for determining credit worthiness. Usually these institutions are larger banks and savings & loans.

Quite often only a portion of their loan programs are a portfolio product. If they are offering fixed rate loans or government loans, they are certainly engaging in mortgage banking as well as portfolio lending.

Once a borrower has made the payments on a portfolio loan for over a year without any late payments, the loan is considered seasoned. Once a loan has a track history of timely payments it becomes marketable, even if it does not meet Freddie/Fannie guidelines.

Selling these seasoned loans frees up more money for the portfolio lender to make additional loans. If they are sold, they are packaged into pools and sold on the secondary market. You will probably not even realize your loan is sold because, quite likely, you will still make your loan payments to the same lender, which has now become your servicer.

DIRECT LENDERS

Lenders are considered to be direct lenders if they fund their own loans. A direct lender can range anywhere from the biggest lender to a very tiny one. Banks and savings & loans obviously have deposits with which they can fund loans, but they usually use warehouse lines of credit for drawing the money to fund the loans. Smaller institutions also have warehouse lines of credit from which they draw money to fund loans.

Direct lenders usually fit into the category of mortgage bankers or portfolio lenders, but not always.

CORRESPONDENTS

Correspondent is usually a term that refers to a company that originates and closes home loans in their own name, then sells them individually to a larger lender, called a sponsor. The sponsor acts as the mortgage banker, re-selling the loan to Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac as part of a pool. The correspondent may fund the loans themselves or funding may take place from the larger company. Either way, the sponsor usually underwrites the loan.

It is almost like being a mortgage broker, except that there is usually a very strong relationship between the correspondent and their sponsor.

MORTGAGE BROKERS

Mortgage Brokers are companies that originate loans with the intention of brokering them to lending institutions. A broker has established relationships with these companies. Underwriting and funding takes place at the larger institutions. Many mortgage brokers are also correspondents.

Mortgage brokers deal with lending institutions that have a wholesale loan department.

WHOLESALE LENDERS

Most mortgage bankers and portfolio lenders also act as wholesale lenders, catering to mortgage brokers for loan origination. Some wholesale lenders do not even have their own retail branches, relying solely on mortgage brokers for their loans. These wholesale divisions offer loans to mortgage brokers at a lower cost than their retail branches offer them to the general public. The mortgage broker then adds on his fee. The result for the borrower is that the loan costs about the same as if he obtained a loan directly from a retail branch of the wholesale lender.

Quick Notes:

  • Banks and savings & loans usually operate as portfolio lenders, mortgage bankers, or some combination of both.
  • Credit Unions usually seem to operate as correspondents, although a large one could act as a portfolio lender or a mortgage banker.

Still interested in understanding more when it comes to the types of mortgage lenders? If so, contact our office at 843-945-0051 and someone will be able to explain more in depth of what mortgage lenders are local to Myrtle Beach and how they could help you on your next purchase! With that said, “We have great challenges & great opportunities, and with our help we’ll meet them together!” – Jason Pries