Mortgage rates are bouncing off of 40 year lows. Seems like the best time to buy a house or refinance. Not so fast – there is a catch. You have to qualify first!
Before the recession, qualifying for a mortgage was not much of an issue. The overall standards were pretty low. If you had a low credit score, you could still qualify for financing. Your credit score did not necessarily determine if you qualified more so than the rate that you qualified for. People with higher credit scores received lower rates and people with lower credit scores received higher rates. But just about everyone qualified for something.
The lending environment today is vastly different. Only those that meet the highest qualification standards can get financing. According to the Federal Reserve, about seventy five percent of those that apply for financing are qualifying. Of course, the number of those applying for loans has decreased significantly.
According to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the average credit score for loans that they finance has risen to 760. It was 720 just a few years ago. For FHA loans, the average score has increased to 700 from 660.
The subprime market has just about disappeared altogether. Before the recession, subprime lenders routinely made loans to borrowers with credit scores below 620. Today, it is very difficult to find lenders willing to make these loans.
If you are thinking about financing, you should check your credit score. If your score is below some of the qualifying averages, take proactive steps to improve your credit scores. Remember, about eighty percent of the credit reports contain errors. With a little bit of effort, you might find that you do qualify for a loan at the current rates after all.