Tightening the Lending Standards--Is Your FICO Below 680?

Here's more on the trend that's been going on since late last summer: tightening lending standards, and Wells Fargo Bank is just one example as it tightens its lending standards in 200 markets across the country. If you want to buy, you must get your loan lined up before making an offer. This has always been considered the normal procedure for buyers. Now it's an absolutely essential must for any borrower. Conventional loan guidelines have changed drastically since 2007 to the point higher down payments may be required and stated income loans are now off-limits in some markets.

A Wells Fargo internal memo identified 30 markets in California alone as "at risk". Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (government-chartered mortgage financers) have surcharges for borrowers with credit scores below 680, a previously acceptable FICO score, and are requiring 5 percent down payment in markets identified as "declining". PMI (private mortgage insurance required on many loans less than 20% down) will be harder to obtain on loans with less than 3% down payment, and MGIC Investment Corp., a leading provider of private mortgage insurance, is discontinuing coverage of loans with down payments of less than 5% in 30 markets, which includes the entire state of California. So the message is: Don't count on that 100% financing or stated income loan in some instances, they're harder to find.

If finding a home is important, taking the time to invest in education about financing one is equally important.

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