Artificial Intelligence in Mortgage Underwriting

Artificial Intelligence

LENDER: “I’m sorry to say that your loan request has been declined. We just couldn’t get a green light from the software program we use.”

YOU: “So I was declined by a computer?”

LENDER: “Well, sort of. You had several factors working against you including your credit score, some late payments, and the fact that you wanted to minimize your down payment.”


The above exchange actually happens more than you would expect. The explanation, while not very helpful, is actually about the best you will get – because the workings of the algorithms used in this standard mortgage software are unknown to almost everyone in the industry, except those who designed it.

There are two programs used by lenders to qualify their borrowers for conventional or FHA financing: Desktop Underwriter (DU) or Loan Prospector (LP). DU is required by the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA or Fannie Mae), and LP is required by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC or Freddie Mac). And, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored enterprises (GSE’s) founded by Congress, are the ultimate buyers of your mortgage. Without getting a green light from one of these programs, your loan may be declined.

Avoid these factors to maximize the probability of getting a DU “Approve/Eligible” or an LP “Accept” finding:

► Loan-to-Value ratio > 80%

► Debt-to-Income Ratio > 43%

► Low Down Payment & Cash Reserves

► New Credit Cards with Low Borrowing Capacity

► Credit Score < 640

► Late Payments/Collections

► Limited History of Mortgage/Rent Payments

► Several Credit Inquiries

Here’s the Point: Without an “Approve/Eligible Finding” from Fannie Mae, you aren’t likely to get a conventional or FHA mortgage – and you may need to call a portfolio or private lender.

Some Lenders Just Don’t Get It

apathy


Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, once wrote in a memo to shareholders that: “…mortgages are offered as a benefit to customers, not because it's a sound investment for the bank." In a recent article by CNBC, one-third of consumers surveyed complained about how their mortgage was handled by banks – and two-thirds of the complaints related to how banks handled all loans in general.

The excitement you experience during your first real estate purchase quickly dwindles when your bank demonstrates their apathy.

There are so many ways for banks to make the mortgage experience much less frustrating, yet “quality service” and “follow-up” tend to be forgotten. For example:

  • You were told that your loan application would be reviewed before the end of the week [But then you call your bank for an update and find out the underwriter in charge of approving your loan is out of the office]
  • You compile all back-up support to evidence your income and property insurance [But then you call your bank for an update and find out three of these items have been misplaced, and were never seen by the underwriter]
  • You go to the closing to sign documents and get the keys to your new property [But then you call your bank for an update and find out you need to wait three hours before they approve the documentation and authorize the loan disbursement]

The way some bankers handle mortgages for consumers is certainly not the way they would handle their own mortgage!

Here’s the Point: There are plenty of mortgage lenders who understand the importance of service – just make sure to pick the right one.

Jumbos Can Be A Beach

jumbo beach house

Your wife just fell in love with a beautiful house on Valentine’s Day.

“Honey I will love you forever!”

If your purchase requires a loan amount that exceeds the standard conforming loan limit ($484,350 per the Federal Housing Finance Agency), it will be considered a "jumbo loan", for which special rules may apply.

For example, if you prefer your down payment to be only 10%, your bank statements or retirement savings accounts may need to show additional liquidity in the amount of 12 months PITI (the projected monthly amount of your Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance).

And, you will need to address these questions:

  • Is the loan for your primary residence?
    [If not, there will be higher down payment, credit score, and reserve requirements for a second home or investment property]
  • Is your credit score at least 680?
    [If not, you may need to use a private lender, and your interest rate will be higher]
  • Do you have enough reserves?
    [If not, consider structuring a piggyback mortgage – that is, a conventional first mortgage up to the $484,350 maximum limit (so that the higher jumbo loan reserve requirements do not apply), and obtain a Home Equity Line of Credit for the balance]
  • Is your Debt-to-Income ratio below 43% (40% if a 1st Time Homebuyer)?
    [If not, you could increase your down payment (to lower your monthly PITI obligation), pay-off your car loan (to reduce your non-housing debt obligations), or negotiate an interest only structure (to eliminate your principal amortization)]


Here’s the Point: Jumbo loan rules can be discouraging, but there is usually a way to make it work.

Buying Your Uncle’s Partial Property Interest

Florida Vacation Home

You just returned from a fantastic holiday at your family’s Florida vacation home. You have always loved the home, which is owned debt free by your Mother and her Brother (your Uncle). Now your Uncle might like to unload his interest. He wasn’t gripped by your suggestion of gifting his 50% interest to you, and so you need a mortgage to make this work.


Here are some lending options (be sure to consult with legal and tax professionals):

1. PURCHASE

  • Although your Mother wants to keep her interest, she must be removed from title along with your Uncle (so the lender’s mortgage can be secured by 100% of what will become your property)
  • Your Mother could provide you with a “gift of equity” (her 50% interest), and you could obtain a loan for the balance of the purchase price
  • Quit-claiming a 50% interest back to your Mother after closing would be prohibited (although the lender is not likely to audit this after closing)

2. REFINANCE

  • As your Mother will remain on title, she can qualify for a “cash-out refinance”, and you could be added to title at closing (at the same time your Uncle is removed from title)
  • Although borrowers cannot refinance a property until they have owned it for 6 months, this condition is satisfied by your Mother’s prior ownership – but she must be a co-borrower

3. UNCLE LOAN (Fastest/Cheapest)

  • Have him quit-claim his interest to you, and pay him back over time at a reasonable interest rate


Here’s the Point: It is probably easier to avoid a third-party mortgage when buying a family member’s partial property interest.

No Way I Will Be Declined

declined

You went under contract to purchase a property, and then started accumulating the supporting documents to obtain your mortgage.Well, guess what? Your steps should have been reversed! Here are some common excuses for those who figured getting a mortgage would be easy, but then discovered there would be some difficulties:

  • “XYZ Credit Co. said my FICO score was 665, which I knew would be good enough for me to qualify for a mortgage. Plus I could always add my spouse, who has an even higher score than me.” Unless you use https://annualcreditreport.com, or have a licensed mortgage broker or lender pull your tri-merge credit report, 90% of the time the score you receive from your source is likely to be 10-50 points higher than your true score. This could be enough to disqualify you from getting a mortgage. Also, the lender will use the lower score of the two – so your spouse can only help if you need to show additional income.
  • “I had a mortgage before, and I have never had trouble qualifying for a credit card or an auto loan.”Most lenders require that you have at least three (3) separate tradelines, one of which should have been in place for as many as 12 months – with an authorized amount of $1,000 or more. You also need to be the primary card holder, not just an “Authorized User”. And, if your prior mortgage has been repaid, that doesn’t count towards the minimum tradeline requirement.

Here’s the Point:Have your credit score pulled before you start making offers – and make sure it is a tri-merge report from all three credit bureaus.

Mortgage Pitfalls for Self-Employed

Pitfalls

Have the revenues from your business been solid over the past two years? Great! Well that’s not good enough to get a mortgage. Here are two main reasons:

  1. If you have been maximizing expenses in order to minimize your taxes payable, remember that it is the net (after expense) income from your business that is used by a lender to calculate your qualifying ratios
  2. If your projected income in the current year is lower than the income reported in your tax returns over the past two years, a conventional lender may decline your loan request outright

The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) publishes self-employment income guidelines for lenders. To qualify for a mortgage, your self-employed net income should be stable, predictable and “likely to continue”. While having guaranteed, contractual income is not a requirement, lenders carefully analyze the financial strength of your business, your sources of income, and the economic outlook for your industry.

Some suggestions to maximize loan approval probability:

  • Understand how the lender calculates your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio – especially if your most recent tax return shows declining net income
  • Produce a current year Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) showing year-to-date actual figures along with realistic projections for the remainder of the year
  • Show that your company distributes less income than it earns (to demonstrate growing cash reserves)
  • Ensure the new mortgage payment (for which you are applying) is in line with or lower than your current rent or the mortgage payment on your existing loan.

Here’s the Point: Make sure you produce a solid Letter of Explanation (LOE) to your lender that will support the continuity of earnings from your business.

New Rotary Board to Focus on Environment

Rotary BOD 2018-19


Rotary Club of Vero Beach 2018–19 Officers and Board of Directors: Daniel Fourmont, Past President; Kathryn Barton, Treasurer; Ken Ligon; Michael Kanuka, President; Richard Carlin; Brenda Bradley, Secretary; Stuart Kennedy, President-Elect; Camille Yates, Vice President; Jim Brumbaugh and Larry Parks. (not pictured – Tom Mitchell).

The Rotary Club of Vero Beach (Vero’s 1st Club) recently celebrated its 92nd birthday. Chartered on June 9, 1926, club members through the years have exemplified Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self,” by donating their time and resources to the local community.

“Rotary is all about connecting and providing service to the community, fellowship with members, and personal and professional development,” says Michael Kanuka, President of the Rotary Club of Vero Beach. “We are the oldest Rotary Club in the area and have proudly helped at least 45 local charitable organizations who serve thousands of people. We have raised money in various ways, and established our Vero Beach Rotary Charities Foundation which has donated more than $100,000 to help local children and adults in need.”

In addition to helping those in need locally, the Rotary Club of Vero Beach works on international projects including ones that bring clean water and dental care to people in the Dominican Republic. They also participate in a Homestay program hosting international Rotarians to give them a perspective of what it’s like to live in Indian River County.

“We are committed to continuously improving our community and our strategic focus is now on the environment,” says Kanuka. “Our recently installed Board of Directors have been brainstorming new civic projects which we will soon be announcing.”

Rotary is an international organization boasting more than 1.2 million members in almost 35,500 clubs around the world. The Rotary Club of Vero Beach meets every Thursday at 11:45 am at the Vero Beach Yacht Club, 3601 Rio Vista Blvd., Vero Beach, FL 32963. For membership information contact President, Michael Kanuka at kanuka@oceanmortgage.com or visit www.rotaryofverobeach.com.

Be Nice To Your HOA


If you are financing the purchase of a condominium unit, you are going to need help from the homeowners’ association (HOA). A property management company is often hired to manage the affairs of the complex, but the HOA is ultimately responsible for many things – including:

  • Building structure, machinery and equipment (roof, HVAC, security, electrical/mechanical)
  • Common areas (lobby, pool, work-out facilities, BBQ area, landscaping)
  • Other functions (insurance, accounting, budgeting, approving leases, collecting HOA fees)

Your lender will require a detailed project review whenever your down payment is less than 20%, or if your condo will be a rental property. This means the HOA will likely need to provide you with several documents (e.g., bylaws, financials, master insurance certificates) and complete a condo questionnaire to confirm that:

  • There is no existing or pending litigation
  • Sufficient reserves exist in the repairs and maintenance budget
  • The condo does not have short-term “hotel-type” rentals
  • No more than 15% of the owners are delinquent in their association fees
  • One owner does not own more than 10% of the units

The questionnaire takes time to complete, and so the HOA may charge you a fee for doing so. But in the end, knowing everything about your purchase will protect you from unforeseen events – including special assessments for which you may be responsible right after your purchase.

In addition, the HOA’s insurance agent will need to provide you with written evidence that the condo master property and liability insurance also applies specifically to your unit being purchased.

Here’s the Point: When you purchase or refinance a condo, there are several reasons why you will want the homeowners’ association on your side.

Know Before You Owe

loan estimate mortgage disclosure rules


In 2015, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) created “Know Before You Owe” mortgage disclosure rules. These were implemented to ensure that consumers would have easy-to-understand information before making what is usually their largest financial decision – namely, the purchase of their own primary residence.

There were a bunch of disclosures required by the CFPB – with changes introduced every year. The key disclosures are the Loan Estimate (which replaced the old Good Faith Estimate), and the Closing Disclosure (which replaced the old HUD-1 Settlement Statement). A lender or mortgage broker is required to issue you a Loan Estimate within three (3) business days to a prospective borrower who is “in application”.

Borrowers refinancing or purchasing a residential property are deemed to be “in application” when the following six items have been received:

  1. Full Name
  2. Social Security Number
  3. Property Address (for a purchase, there should be a reasonable probability of going under contract)
  4. Estimated Value (for a purchase, what the offer is expected to be)
  5. Loan Amount (this item would not be considered received if the down payment is uncertain)
  6. Income (the borrower’s actual and projected earnings should be reasonably reliable)

This was a good rule, because consumers often never really knew what their loan costs and reserves would be until right before closing. Unscrupulous lenders and brokers had been “hooking” their borrowers – thereby making it difficult to change lenders right before funding.

Interestingly, these rules do not apply to commercial, reverse, mobile home or HELOC mortgages.

Here’s the Point: Get a Loan Estimate as soon as possible when applying for a mortgage – so that you know what your costs are likely to be.