As a member of the HCFAC committee which is comprised of three representatives each from the mortgage, real estate and housing counseling industries as well as three consumer advocates, I am learning more about a great resource – HUD approved counseling agencies. Panels were planned for March 14 at HUD to show different ways that HUD approved housing counselors can assist not only consumers, but also mortgage and real estate professionals. (The meeting was cancelled due to a major snowstorm and will be held at a later date.)
For years, we have grappled with a credit problem where past short-sellers who attempt to get approved for a conventional Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage are turned down because their short sale is credit coded as a foreclosure. This problem is commonly found during the mortgage process of a live contract where a deadline must be met. Often, options to get this corrected quickly are expensive or result in the borrower resorting to an FHA mortgage or a non-QM portfolio loan at a higher interest rate.
When this problem was discussed with colleagues in the housing counseling industry, it became evident that this is where a solution to this problem for all parties might be. Why? Loan originators are trained to meet contract dates and get data needed to ensure an approval. Housing counselors are trained to analyze and prepare clients for homeownership.
The credit code problem specific to short sales is not a singular issue. It starts with the realization that the short sale code is showing up as a foreclosure – something not visible until it is seen in both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac automated underwriting systems. This doesn’t mean Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are to blame for this problem – it’s just where it is first seen.
Unfortunately, for many affected past short-sellers they learn of this problem on their first attempt to get a new conventional mortgage when they are eligible again four years after the short sale. But too often, lenders don’t run these clients through the automated underwriting system upfront which would allow the lender to know there’s a problem right away. And consumers don’t always let the lender know they had a past short sale.
Note to all loan originators: ask your clients if they had a short sale up front! If they did, run them through your automated system immediately!
Calls for help often come in when the loan is in crisis. Lenders are instructed on how to do the Fannie Mae Desktop workaround, but if the lender is primarily a Freddie Mac lender, there is no workaround. And because of slight differences in the popular Fannie Mae Home Ready program and the Freddie Mac Home Possible loan, calls for help are increasing for how to fix this problem in Freddie Mac.
If past short-sellers know of the problematic credit code issue, they or a credit repair company attempt to get it corrected. The most common fix is to dispute the account. However, the dispute does nothing but hide the credit, offering a temporary fix that appears to work when credit scores increase. However, when the affected consumer applies for a new mortgage the dispute must be taken off of the credit. The previous credit code problem returns, credit scores plummet and if the consumer is in a contract, there is only one quick way to remedy the problem and that is with a Rapid Rescore. Per FCRA regulations, the lender must pay for the Rapid Rescore.
Another problem that occurs is that because of the dispute, the “date reported” becomes more recent then the short sale closing date because of the new investigation. This date can’t be changed per credit reporting agencies and the automated systems can deny a past short seller if this date is within the four year wait limit.
No lenders in the U.S. will do a manual underwrite to circumvent the problem, though both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have written criteria that allows for a manual underwrite.
Last week, it was found that the same credit code problem appears to also affect those who had a modification and are over 120 days delinquent.
It is a hunch that going over 120 days delinquent may be the key because an approval of a new loan was received for a consumer who was less than 120 days late on their mortgage prior to the short sale. Nonetheless, we are close to getting this resolved…. And the housing counseling industry will be involved in assisting in a permanent correction of this problem.