It’s been almost three months since Governor Newsom’s order that all Californian’s shelter-in-place. It sure feels like more. I feel such empathy for those that live alone, are single parents or have lost their job, It’s simply awful. I am thankful every single day I get up and get ready for work.
Covid-19 has re-ordered virtually every industry in the world to figure out how to adapt,. Not only adapt, but improvise, and overcome this virus or otherwise fail. In California, mortgage lending and real estate are still thriving; all be it, with a whole new subset of issues to we have never faced before. Below are just a few tricks that might help you during your next purchase:
Did you know that in some cases, your lender will not require you to get an appraisal when buying a home? We have been doing this for years. Now, with Covid-19, and given the fact, sellers don’t want a stranger in their home, the appraisers can be just as uncomfortable entering a home. It’s lovely to know you have this option if you work with the right lender.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac traditionally offer an appraisal waiver for low loan-to-value refinance or if you put down at least 20% on a purchase. Also, in conjunction with new Fannie and Freddie Covid-19 updates, our underwriters are permitting exterior only appraisals under certain circumstances.
However, you may still want to get an appraisal done (~$525) to ensure you are not paying too much for the home. But if you and your agent have taken the time to look at comparables and feel the value is there, not needing an appraisal can not only save you money by not having to pay for the report, it can also help in other ways.
For example, I had a client facing multiple offers, and the only reason their offer was accepted is that they came in at asking price AND agreed to remove the appraisal contingency. Meaning, if for some reason, the appraisal came in lower, they would have to come out of pocket to make up the difference. These buyers didn’t have much in reserves after the down payment and closing costs, and what they did have left was their cushion for any future emergencies. With this appraisal waiver in place, they would not pay one extra dollar out of pocket – And not needing an appraisal was just what they needed – peace of mind.
CAN’T GET A JUMBO LOAN?
Jumbo loans have been walloped during this pandemic as mortgage servicers tighten their lending criteria. Many lenders have stopped issuing them altogether. Jumbos are loans that exceed the maximum you can borrow with a Fannie, Freddie, or FHA conforming loan. For example, let’s assume you are buying a home in Sacramento County, where the max Fannie/Freddie loan amount is $569,250. Thus, if your loan amount is higher – you fall in the Jumbo loan category.
Since Fannie and Freddie do not back jumbo loans, they are considered riskier and require higher credit scores, lower debt-to-income ratios, and may require a few months of cash reserves or even up to a year or more worth of mortgage payments. A little trick is to use a piggyback second mortgage to avoid taking out a Jumbo loan. Jumbo rates can be higher than those on conforming loans, so borrowers buying a high-value home may take out a conforming mortgage, then cover the rest with a piggyback loan and down payment.
Let’s assume you found your dream home for $850,000 in the perfect neighborhood. Now, throw in you were just told by your Jumbo lender that the loan for $680,000 you were qualified for, no longer exists. When the reserves required become higher, your rate just went up too. You could instead go with a conforming loan of $569,250 plus a piggyback loan of $110,750 and save the day.
Every day this pandemic throws new challenges our way. Because of that, we continue to adapt and improvise and overcome. This is why it is essential to work with people you trust. Lenders that have decades of experience will guide you through the steps of home-ownership and finance. Be safe, everyone.