Sunday, August 21, 2011

Uh-oh. They still haven't learned.

Two "housing advocates" penned this letter in the Clarion-Ledger last week:

"Asking creditworthy, middle-income families to come up with a 20 percent down payment on a mortgage is asking for a lot, given the current economic climate.

Asking credit worthy, low-income families is asking for the impossible, but that is exactly what a new, proposed federal rule does.

Without a 20 percent down payment, borrowers will have to pay more in interest rates and closing costs for their mortgages, creating a two-tiered lending system: one for the wealthy and one for the rest of us.

The rule is known in the industry as the Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) provision, and it poses a new set of threats to home ownership for countless families and especially minorities and first-time homebuyers.

According to housing experts, it takes an average African-American household 15 years to accumulate a 10 percent down payment and 5 percent closing costs, and average Latino households would need 12 years to do so. How long might it take for an African-American family to save up a 20 percent down payment? Far too long.

Buttressing this data are Census Bureau statistics indicating that African-Americans had a median net worth of about $8,600 in the mid-2000s, which is not enough to generate a 20 percent down payment plus the 5 percent needed for closing costs (a total of $25,000) that the QRM will require to secure a mortgage for even a modestly priced home of $100,000.

When faced with these daunting statistics, it is almost unfathomable to consider the additional ramifications of the QRM's restrictive lending guidelines, which include requiring prospective borrowers to spend less than 28 percent of their monthly gross income on housing, and have total monthly household debt capped at less than 36 percent of their income.

When these stringent criteria are coupled with the additional stipulation that borrowers must present virtually impeccable personal credit histories, the profile of the new American homeowner comes into clear focus: wealthy and, most likely, white...." Letter

Yes, you read this right. These numbskulls advocate borrowers, especially minority ones at that, taking on more debt. There is a reason monthly household debt is capped at 36%- so the borrower can actually....... make the payments. What a concept. Keep in mind the 36% based on gross monthly income. Take out 40-50 percent for all taxes. Then there is gas, groceries, clothing, etc. The cap is used to ensure the borrower can afford the payments and he doesn't get in over his head financially. Can't tell that to these guys as they just want to load down the blacks they love so much with more debt than they can afford. Guess that is their version of tough love except for those who follow their advice, they wind up financially ruined. No problem, they will just blame that on racism and da man.

Then there is the part about how criminal it is to require a twenty percent down payment. These guys can blame their fellow Democrats for this problem. The QRM ruled was stuffed into the Dodd-Frank bill? Remember when some of us raised hell over passing a 2,500 page bill no one had read? Here is one of its goodies. explained in March:

"Under the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform, loan originators will be required to retain capital reserves equal to five percent of all but the safest mortgage loans. The safe loans that will be exempt from this risk retention are called “qualified residential mortgages” (QRMs). The definition for a QRM is expected to be released in the next couple of weeks, but the expectation is that in order to be a QRM, a mortgage loan will need a 20% down payment. This means that those that do not have a down payment of this size will be subject to increased mortgage rates to make up for the risk retention on the part of the lender. The Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, the FHA, and other regulatory and governmental agencies are responsible for defining a QRM. Additional explanation at the Wall Street Journal

The rule is intended to ensure that lenders have “skin in the game”. In the past, some mortgage originators would make risky loans, and in turn bundle them into mortgage backed securities and sell them to investors, effectively passing all the risk to another party. These practices were partially to blame for the meltdown of the housing market. Theoretically, the QRM rule would end these risky lending practices."

However, there is one little fact these two "housing advocates" left out: the rules do not apply to mortgages guaranteed by the government. That means FHA mortgages, which have been available to minorities and lower income borrowers for decades, will not be subject to QRM and the tougher requirements. FHA currently allows a minimum down payment of 3.5%. Oddly enough, QRM will not apply to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as long as they are in government receivership. That means QRM will not apply to over 90% of the mortgages underwritten today. It should also be pointed out the mortgage insurers are fighting this rule as it assumes a mortgage carries no mortgage insurance.

However, the letter gives one a glimpse into how these people think: they still don't get it. There is a reason 20% is considered to be a magic number in mortgage lending. Defaults skyrocket when lower down payments are accepted. Self employed borrowers and those making a five percent or less down payment always rank at the top of the foreclosure charts. They expect a bank to offer a loan with a much higher risk of default the same rate as a loan that is considered to be "safe". Trustmark offered Fannie Mae subprime loans (E.A. I & II for you mortgage nuts) but the reason it did not get into trouble offering them was because they had interest rates one to two points higher than the competition. In other words, they actually priced them for the risk and guess what? Trustmark did not suffer as did the other banks.

It does these minorities no good whatsoever to get a home they can not afford, take on more debt than they can handle, and see their lives ruined because "housing advocates" such as these ignore reality wedded as they are to their philosophy. All they care about is bragging how much they do for the poor, not what they actually do for the poor and in this case, they will definitely hurt the poor. They are a threat to the people they pretend to support. They complain about Wall Street bailouts but want to follow policies that will ensure more bailouts become the rule and not the exception. But they don't care about that. Better to rabble rouse and keep their supporters stirred up then face economic reality.

There should be a debate over the rule. and no mortgage should be underwritten unless it has a down payment of five percent. However, that same mortgage is riskier and should have an interest rate that reflects the risk. These "housing advocates" ignore the fact the new rules will not apply to FHA and for a time Fannie and Freddie as they are determined to sink lenders everywhere. They want to put minorities into homes they can not afford and bankrupt them with more debt. If I were a minority, I'd punch them in the mouth for their "help".

Note: Already wrote the post but here is this gem of a last paragraph in the letter:

At a time when employment opportunities are vanishing and existing homeowners are losing equity in what is likely their largest investment (and asset), Americans who are creditworthy and otherwise suited to take on the obligations of home ownership should be encouraged to pursue this part of the American dream if they so desire. And the rising foreclosure rates in the Mississippi Gulf Coast area, which are at 3.23 percent, according to CoreLogic, only compound the situation, undermining any kind of real recovery to the market. Low down payments didn't cause the collapse of the housing and financial markets. Poor and risky underwriting standards and subprime loan schemes are the true culprits.

Um, the rule does not deny a mortgage to someone who is creditworthy, only if he has a 60 day late on his credit history. Low down payments didn't cause the collapse but risky underwriting standards did? Accepting low down payments given the fact such mortgages have high defaults rates is risky underwriting. Idiots.


KaptKangaroo said...

Unbelievable. They are advocating creating another public debt bubble in a housing market that is still overpriced. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

what outstanding idiots!

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should be wondering how it is that Latinos save faster than A-As.

According to housing experts, it takes an average African-American household 15 years to accumulate a 10 percent down payment and 5 percent closing costs, and average Latino households would need 12 years to do so.

Anonymous said...

I agree the arguments made are lame, but do remember that not all subprimes loans are/were risky and 20% down should not be written in stone either.

VA has had ( or did have) 100% financing on homes for decades and those loans were successful. KEY is the predicted future income, IF the borrower's monthly payment will be 25% or less of monthly income , IF that income is likely to be stable or increase and IF the house is a good investment. VA was rigorous in inspections ( at one time anyway).

A minority doctor just out of med school is less of a risk than a WASP in a job where layoffs are common. One size fits all is rather silly when it comes to an equation with many variables.

Just as insurance companies can figure risks accurately,so can banks and other lending institutions.

The " formula" should be about how much risk a bank can reasonably be expected to assume . 6% of mortgages at subprime worked just fine. 40% did not. And, SELLING mortgages didn't pan out so well either as there weren't controls to alert buyers to BAD mortgages on overvalued properties.

Anonymous said...

20% should be a required downpayment across the board - no matter what income level or sales price of the house. The Realtors are fighting this hot and heavy because their 'business' has dwindled down to nothing. Anyone that can fog a mirror can get a real estate license. No standards for education except a few classes ... then you pass the state board, give the local board money and you are a 'Realtor'. Over 700 real estate licensees did NOT renew their insurance this year and that means over 700 will not renew their license. you can not be licensed without E&O insurance. That is approx 1/4 million $$ to the RE commission.

Realtors campaign and lobby for anything that creates 'easy money'. They care very little about this country or poor people. They care about the 6% going into their pockets. They want easy money and they want sales ... doesn't matter if the people would be much better off as renters.

The local jackson board pays outrageous salaries for simple tasks and they have too many people employed. The board will lose hundreds of thousands when the RE licensees do not pay thier 'dues' at the end of the year.

Some areas of Jackson have seen 80% (or more) drop in median sale prices since the peak in 2005-07. Lenders were throwing money at anyone who could sign their name. Madison and Rankin counties have experienced some decline - but nothing like Jackson. The Clinton area has seen a slight decline. Loans are difficult now since you actually need a decent credit rating. Difficulty obtaining financing brings prices down across the board. There are 'pocket areas' in Jackson that still hold their values ... but there are very few.

The bottom line is NAR lobbying to keep interest rates artifically low and keep putting people into houses that should be renters and not homeowners.

Japan saw a 10 year 'housing bubble' and we will too. If we are lucky. It is a cycle ... hard money, easy money. After the housing problem hits botton, it will pick up again but that will be many years from now.

Shadowfax said...

yada yada yada from all the 'loan heads' and accounting types. The only thing that matters is the current regime is going to do everything possible to affect whatever has to be changed in order to bring the 'lower economic class' up with federal assistance to the point of meeting the middle class and then the middle class will vanish, if the plan holds. It's been his plan from long before 'day one' and will continue as his plan long after his moving van arrives.

Economics and sensibility have absolutely no place in the discussion. Don't waste your breath regurgitating mumbo jumbo.

bill said...

I disagree with the notion that home ownership is some sort of American right despite your ability to pay. My parents, who both worked white collar jobs, didn't own the home we lived in until I was 16. Renting was normal - it wasn't some sign of destitution that automatically put us in the lower economic class. People shouldn't worry about owning their homes until they can afford to. Bill Billingsley

Anonymous said...

Anyone that can fog a mirror can get a real estate license.

You don't even need a license to be an alternative weekly journalist.

Anonymous said...

Come on now,

This is valid proof that the ole' "neuroscience" theory is justified.

Please see the latest goofy crap at :

According to the JFP, the lil' Black inner city kids aren't getting
enough vitamins from those free school breakfasts , lunches & dinners that the working folks
have been paying for since 1965 .

I would like for the progressives to explain to us, how the lil' Hispanic kids are doing better than the lil' Blacks with less.
Free Government care.

The Latino work ethic perhaps, ??????

LCB said...

I know this sounds insane, but if you can't produce the down payment ..maybe, just MAYBE you are not solid enough to afford the payment in a rapidly deteriorating economy. Perhaps many folks should buy a cheaper house or rent. When we decided to relocate we chose to purchase a house half the size and half the cost just to be safe. We could have financially done much more, but were fearful of the continued economic downturn that has now become much more than that. We are cramped and it has been an adjustment in many ways, but it becomes a better decision everytime I read the Wall Street Journal.

Anonymous said...

No 4:29. that will never work.

Your idea makes too much common sense.

You have to understand the doctrine of " It be mines"
has come to fruition.

LCB said...

4.58..THAT is exactly why we did what we did. The entitlement society is crashing and it will hurt those of us that have worked hard to build a business and live within our means. Years ago when we purchased a home we were told we could afford a million dollar home(I think we had a 200k or so income?) We were APPALLED. We bought a 215,000 house we could afford and still live. There has never been a bailout for us nor will there be. The funny thing is that with the bursting of the mortgage bubble, banking crisis, etc., we watched our income go from a strong 6 figures for the past 15 years(earned by 80 hour weeks, economic risk, sacrifice at home) to literally nothing in 2010. We are glad we saw the handwriting on the wall and downsized. Well, we are no longer "rich", so I guess that is a good thing to some folks. The bad part for those that despise capitalism is that the 6 figures of personal income tax we paid on our nice income from around 1997 will not be collected this year or the next barring a lottery win. We have made a lot of cuts in the interest of preserving our savings and retirement. The indications are that by the time the economy rebounds we may not succeed. Three kids and all that goes with it are expensive. I guess we should get a divorce and then I could gets MY check.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:22,

I'm glad that you and many others are now becoming reasonable about the complete failure of LBJ ' s
" Great Society " programs of the 1960's.

Lisa said...

First of all, I only put down 5% on my house 12 years ago because that's what I could afford. I've never been late on a payment and I now have 50% equity in my house. And, my house note is a lot cheaper than an apartment would have been. Don't generalize all of us who can't afford to put down 20%. As someone in my early 30s,I didn't have an extra $20,000 for a $100,000 house.

And, by the way, not everyone can pass the real estate test. The last girl I knew who took it made a 25%.

LCB said...

Lisa, I in no way mean to say there are not responsible people who cannot put 20% down. My gripe is the mentality that says; "I am broke, I have bad credit, but I can buy an expensive house." MANY people of all income levels along with irresponsible financial institutions enabled the purchase of houses by people who could in no way afford those homes. Now those of us that were not so foolish have watched our assets decline in value. We have sold two homes since 2008. One we lost 25 percent on the first and 20% on the next. That is why we downsized, we are tired of paying the price for everyone elses mistakes

LCB said...

6:02..I have LONG agreed. Total fail.

reximus said...

Here here well spoken, LCB.

LCB said...

Why,I thank you BRJ! Come have a beer with me next time you ride to the northshore. ;)

Dr. Magnus Alfred Pyke said...

You didn't buy @ 5% w/o PMI. Your "equity" is a moving target in this market.

reximus said...

yall back in your old hood?

Lisa said...

I totally agree with you, LCB. That's why I bought a house I knew I could afford. I'm sure I could have qualified for more but didnt' want to go there.
Dr. Pyke, I realize that. But, at least I'm in my own home and not spending money every month for rent that goes down the drain.

Anonymous said...

100% financing on home loans has been around for decades and worked just fine when the lenders made responsible decisions on those loans.

Veterans( especially officers), med school and law school graduates, who had a job in hand are just a FEW examples of those who were able to qualifying for 100% financing.

The qualifying decision was based on the applicant's history and future ability to pay. These loans were NOT high risk. It's math people,advanced math, but MATH.

A person could have 20% of the downpayment and STILL be a poor risk. As an example for the clueless, a person could get an accident settlement or inherit and not have a good history .

It matters whether or not the property has been accurately appraised. IF it is and there is foreclosure, the banks don't lose money. There's something called INTEREST on a mortgage which is paid BEFORE the principle.

The ignorance on this subject is stunning. particularly from those who claim to be " realtors".

And, you guys are criticizing poor, undereducated minorities for thinking they could qualify? Hell, y'all don't know how it works either!

Kingfish said...

Actually you left out RECD as it had a very low default rate as well. However, allow me to point out two things and I think you will agree with me on them.

RECD requires a manual underwrite and is full documentation. Yes, it is 100% LTV but there is no computer doing the underwriting or providing conditions. Its underwritten the old fashioned way: if the underwriter doesn't feel good about it and it doesn't meet the guidelines, its declined.

VA still requires an investment from the borrower if I remember, the funding fee, which is not a few hundred dollars. Borrower still has to come up with something and there are not that many VA loans either.

The tables I've seen come from MI companies and they show BEFORE the meltdown a huge jump in defaults between 80% LTV and then the >95% LTV range.

You are correct about the 20% not being the only criteria that should be used which is why I focused more on the DTI ratio. Sorry, you can put down 50% but if your DTI is 50% you are much more at risk for a problem.

What I saw were the Fannie Mae computers approving 580 credit score 100% LTV loans at 45% DTI ratios or better yet, approving loans that required no actual appraisal if in certain areas. That is what got us here.

LCB said...

No, BRJ-an adjoining one with cheaper houses, overall. LOL!

Anonymous said...

By the way , Lisa, there was a time when qualifying for the maximum could be and WAS for me on my first house, a smart investment. I bought my first house for $60000 and sold it six months later for $11000 after spending $1290 for cosmetic improvements. Byt the way, it was 100% financed. I used that money to buy a second house for $79000 and sold it $125000. I took those profits and bought the third and final house for $225000 and my tax appraisal on it is $425000. I was " house" poor in the short term and rich in the long term.

I've even borrowed money to invest in businesses. I'll make the math easy. If I borrow $100 and pay $110 back ( let's pretend the $10 is interest)and I make $1000 profit on my investment, that is a wise investment.

That's how investment works. You spend money in the short term to make profit in the long term and improve your financial position. Any finance text will say somewhere that the greater the risk, the higher the return.

I carried debt so I could become not only debt free, but wealthy. I even invested in my education so I could make even wiser investments. IF I had not, I would have stayed economically in the middle class. I'd have a little house and some savings but I wouldn't be economically independent.

And, that's WHY the notion of cutting spending ONLY is so unbelievably STUPID. IF a widget factory's equipment is obsolete, they can either borrow to modernize so they can compete with other widget factories or they can just let the equipment continue to fail and eventually their widget factory will close. If you had a wagon wheel factory at the turn of the century, you'd have NO business if you didn't try to get into the tire business rather than sell out and live more frugally until " frugal" meant " dirt poor".

Does anybody GET it yet? It's not spending , it's HOW you spend. It's not debt, it's how you USE the money you borrow. You can't reduce debt quickly ONLY by cutting spending . You have to increase revenue which will increase your ability to pay down the debt .

We DID that in the 90s and reduced national debt by 75% in ONE year.

And for the forgetful or those too young to remember, our debt in the 80s was a political issue and there was much whining about " mortgaging our grandchildren's future" then as well.

Our biggest failure apparently is not debt, but that we didn't spend enough on education and people are now graduating without ever having taken a basic finance course! I had a finance course in HIGH SCHOOL. I guess that was a budget cut...see the problem?

Anonymous said...

Does anybody GET it yet?

Oh yeah. We get it. You are a legend in your own mind.

Anonymous said...

The majority of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics believe that the federal deficit should be reduced only or primarily through spending cuts.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to clue in the high school financier that a tax appraisal does not equal market price.

Kingfish said...

tax appraisal? I missed that one.

Anonymous said...

KF - refer to 8:08 am.

Anonymous said...

Borrow more to make money? sounds like a typical democrat.

A house is NOT meant to be an investment tool. And the banks DO lose money when a home goes into foreclosure.

Spend more money on education? How about making sure the educational system we have now stops wasting money and setting standards for the lowest common denominator.

Spending MORE money on education has NOT helped the Tunica school district one bit. Spend more?? Crazy.

Houses are not investment tools. They are for shelter. Money invested wisely in other ways is much safer than investing in housing.

Lisa - the person you know that made 25% on the real estate licensing exam did not open a book. I promise. If she studied and did not pass that exam, then she certainly should not be driving or doing anything else that could put others in danger.

Lisa said...

Anon at 11:00 am, the girl I know who made a 25% on the real estate exam rode on the short bus to school. She's dumb as a box of rocks. I could have walked in and probably passed the test. And, no she shouldn't be driving because she has the worst case of ADHD I've ever seen.

TP said...

7:01 PM - You just described 70% of the real estate agents (or Realtors, as they love to be called) in the Jackson Metro area. The other 30% at least take their job seriously...

Glorified door there is NOTHING a real estate agent can do for you that you can't do for yourself...with all the resources available to the public via multiple resources, they (Realtors) are in my opinion the equivalent of a debit route insurance salesman in today's world!

Lisa said...

TP, I agree with you. I think that's why they've been raising the dues and trying to make the test a little harder. They want to weed some of them out. Some of them make an awful lot of money for doing very little.

Anonymous said...

TP hit the nail on the head. Most Realtors are useless. The majority can not pronounce the word. I often wonder where the 3rd syllable comes from in their world. Real-i-tor. People who cannot pronounce the name of their supposed profession are embarrassing. I hope many, many Realtors are reading this and learn to pronounce the word properly. 2 syllables people - not 3. Real-tor. How hard is it???

It is probably a good estimate to say that approx. 30% take their jobs seriously. But it is not accurate to think they would weed out their own. They need those dues and fees to keep going with their bloated budgets.

Some states actually have educational standards for their real estate licensees. Too bad they don't require a college education in Mississippi. Heck, they don't even need a high school diploma.

They are not the sole cause of the housing crisis - but they certainly contributed by misleading people and pushing over-priced housing on uneducated buyers.

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