What Are Appraisal-Free Mortgages? Starting Soon

Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association since 1938) and Freddie Mac (Federal Home
Get good grades and you get an easier loan
Loan Mortgage Corporation since 1970s) are both government sponsored enterprises (GSEs). 
Freddie Mac "buys mortgages on the secondary market, pools them, and sells them as a mortgage-backed security to investors on the open market." (Wikipedia).  Fannie Mae's "purpose is to expand the secondary mortgage market by securitizing mortgages in the form of mortgage-backed securities (MBS), allowing lenders to reinvest their assets into more lending and in effect increasing the number of lenders in the mortgage market by reducing the reliance on locally based savings and loan associations (or "thrifts")." (Wikipedia)

So in other words, both entities buy back mortgage loans to resell to investors.  In order to do that, mortgage loans made to new home buyers through various lending institutions are often completed under the guidelines of either or these two entities. 

The appraisal process is a key feature or the mortgage loan process, as the loan must be shown to be a good risk for the price agreed upon between buyer and seller, but that appraisal has often been a source of contention especially when market prices are moving up  rapidly. In addition, changes to the mortgage loan process in recent years has lengthened the time taken for many loan to get completed due to new lending guides required by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect borrowers.

So, beginning in 2016, certain refinance mortgages by Fannie Mae were approved for "appraisal free" loans.  Now, both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are jumping onto the bandwagon to offer mortgage purchase loans with internal automated appraisals which may save 10 days off escrow time and $500 to the borrower.

But this will not work for every borrower--the automated process will look at the borrower's loan-to-value (lower loan is better), the borrower's FICO scores and other determining factors about their application in order to determine the eligibility for the appraisal-free process.  Does this mean there's no calculation on the value of the property? No, because "Collateral Underwriter uses statistical models and algorithms built on a database of over 26 million appraisals to evaluate appraisal quality and drive greater confidence in the valuation of properties securing the loans acquired by Fannie Mae." 

So given that application and property value targets are met in this process, the buyer may obtain a Property Inspection Waiver on properties with low loan-to-value ratios. See Housing Wire
article. Fannie Mae does believe that the majority of mortgages will still require a traditional appraisal, however, for the right buyer, appraisal free transactions will ease their property purchase!

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