Drill Down on Short Sale and Modification Credit

By Pam Marron | National Mortgage Professional Magazine | April 2017

Recently, a joint effort of the mortgage and the housing counseling industries to remedy continued credit problems of past short sellers who continue to receive a foreclosure credit code on their past short sale credit was investigated. While reviewing data, it was learned that this same credit code problem also affects consumers who have had a modification. The foreclosure code problem seems to be present when mortgage lates go past 120 days, a trait present in many short sales and modifications. But we were stunned when the foreclosure credit code also showed up on a consumer who had excessive mortgage lates… but no short sale, foreclosure or modification.

To prove the data found, nine cases including short sales, a modification, a Deed in Lieu and one where none of these existed were set up in the same format. A tri-merged credit report was pulled for each and a visual of the problem credit trade line was provided as well as a snapshot of the individual bureau repositories of Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

Fannie Mae

All cases were run through the Fannie Mae Desktop Originator (DO) automated underwriting system (AUS) with the tri-merged credit report. A visual of the findings for an approval or declination and what the blended tri-merged credit in Fannie Mae looks like was provided.

The Fannie Mae workaround was used for loans that received a Desktop Originator Refer with Caution and it worked… even on the modification.

There is no workaround for Freddie Mac.

Freddie Mac

For Freddie Mac, cases were run through the Loan Prospector Advisor (LPA) first with the lender tri-merged credit report. Then, the case was run again using the credit in-file option allowed internally through Freddie Mac’s LPA. A snapshot of Freddie Mac’s tri-merged credit and the separate credit in-files was included.

Here is what was found in Freddie Mac:

  • There is no variation for foreclosure verbiage. Either “13. Recent foreclosure/signif derog appears on credit report” appears in findings, or it does not.

Other remarks are often included:

  • “64. Crdt rpt w/recent mtg delinq or review mtg credit history”
  • “YW. The Borrower has had a foreclosure within the last seven years. The mortgage file must also contain evidence of the completion of the foreclosure.”

Number of consumers at risk

Thanks to RealtyTrac (now ATTOM Data Solutions), it was learned that there were 1,978,754 short sales and deeds in lieu completed from 1/1/2010 through 12/31/2016.

The wait timeframe after a short sale or deed-in-lieu is 4 years, rather than the 7 year wait timeframe after a foreclosure.

Thus, as of Dec. 31, 2016, 1,032,211 of those with a past short sale or deed-in-lieu are past the 4 year wait timeframe and are now eligible to re-enter the housing market. Any of these clients and additionally those who had a modification or who had mortgage lates past 120 days will most likely encounter a new mortgage denial for a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac conventional mortgage.

We haven’t even looked at the number of modifications affected yet.

How Problem Continues

A conventional mortgage denial occurs when the automated underwriting system reads credit code of a past short sale as a foreclosure. When the lender calls Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, support tells the lender that the information is coming from one or more of the bureaus (TransUnion, Experian or Equifax). Ultimately, the consumer is told they must get the credit fixed with the bureau(s) where the foreclosure code is coming from, though Fannie Mae has a workaround for this problem.

The borrower tries to get this fixed by placing a “dispute” on the account. The “dispute” hides the actual credit from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac automated systems and must be lifted from the credit when the consumer applies for a new mortgage. When the dispute is lifted, the problem credit comes back and most often credit scores plummet. This results in a higher rate for the consumer and the lender must pay for a Rapid Rescore, the quickest way for consumers to get a credit score change. This is a big problem when found during a contract with a deadline. Lenders that end up paying for the Rapid Rescore often do not want to assist consumers where this problem is anticipated due to the cost the lender must incur.

Another problem is the “Date Reported”, or a more recent change to an account than the initial occurrence date. The more recent date often exempts a past short seller from a new conventional mortgage when it falls within the minimum required wait timeframe. This date cannot be changed per credit reporting agencies.

Stay tuned.

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