Augusta Business Daily

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Real Talk Real Estate: How the New Mortgage Fee Adjustments Could Impact You

Starting May 1, 2023, the Federal Housing Finance Agency will enforce new fee adjustments for federally backed home mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Loan-Level Price Adjustments (LLPAs) will affect all private banks and mortgage companies across the U.S. The new rule aims to subsidize high-risk borrowers by imposing intentional disruption to traditional risk-based pricing. This policy, however, comes with added costs for homebuyers with credit scores of 680 or higher. These homebuyers may pay approximately $40 more per month on a $400,000 loan. Those who make down payments between 15% to 20% will face the most significant fees.

This new rule will be confusing for borrowers and create issues for lenders and individual loan officers. The added uncertainty may cause delays during an already competitive real estate market lacking inventory. The National Association of Realtors and some industry specialists are also concerned that this policy will discourage homeowners with relatively strong financial positions and good credit scores from refinancing.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency Director, Sandra Thompson, stated that the changes aim to increase pricing support for purchase borrowers limited by income or wealth. Despite the backlash, the agency postponed upfront fees for debt-to-income ratios of 40% or more from May 1 to August 1, to ensure a level playing field for all lenders to have sufficient time to deploy the fee.

While this policy intends to improve access to credit for minority home buyers who often have lower down payments and lower credit scores, it has generated a lot of criticism in the industry. The housing market has already been hit hard by a series of Federal Reserve interest rate hikes that have driven mortgage rates above 6%, roughly double the level from early 2022. The policy may cause delays and frustrations for homebuyers and lenders during an already competitive real estate market with low inventory.

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