Mortgage Insurance Fund Underwriting Guidelines

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1 Mortgage Insurance Fund Underwriting Guidelines Table of Contents Philosophy...1 MassHousing Home Ownership Program...1 Non-MassHousing Loans...1 Loan Types (Eligible)...2 Loan Types (Ineligible)...2 Loan Purposes (Eligible)...2 Loan Purposes (Ineligible)...2 Properties (Eligible)...2 Properties (Ineligible)...3 Loan to Value Ratios (Eligible)...3 Minimum Down Payment and Acceptable Sources of Down Payment...3 Acceptable Sources of Down Payment...3 Maximum, Minimum Loan Amounts...4 Maximum Loan Amount...4 Maximum Income Limitations...4 Borrower Criteria...4 Other Criteria...7 Philosophy The Mortgage Insurance Fund (MIF) was organized in 1989 as a division of the MassHousing with the public purpose of guaranteeing access to mortgage insurance for all qualified low and moderate-income homebuyers in the Commonwealth. The Mortgage Insurance Fund believes that it must accommodate this public purpose with guidelines that specifically address the needs and issues affecting low and moderate-income homebuyers. MassHousing Home Ownership Program As the primary insurer of the MassHousing Home Ownership Program s business the MIF underwrites those loans in strict accordance with their published guidelines. We believe those guidelines reflect a most capable method of qualifying low- and moderate-income homebuyers for their first home mortgage. Our overall guidelines are drawn to reflect our confidence in MassHousing s risk management philosophy and underwriting policies. Please refer for specific MassHousing Home Ownership Program guidelines published policies and procedures on An MIF approval for insurance does not guarantee that loans comply with MassHousing revenue bond compliance requirements. MIF will serve as a reference source for such criteria and provide loan review as a courtesy to lenders on an as requested basis. Non-MassHousing Loans The MIF is a qualified mortgage insurer for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. We are authorized to insure non- MassHousing loans made to low and moderate-income homebuyers in specialized programs purchasing properties in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. While our philosophy, policies and guidelines reflect our experience as the primary insurance partner of MassHousing s Home Ownership Division, individual investors may require or impose more restrictive guidelines on the loans they purchase. It is our intention to fill the insurance gap between conventional financing and mortgage insurance where appropriate and to facilitate home financing for low and moderate-income homebuyers in underserved neighborhoods and communities. Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency TEL: FAX: One Beacon Street, Boston, MA VP:

2 Loan Types (Eligible) Philosophy Low and moderate-income homebuyers cannot depend on savings, discretionary cash flows and reliable increases in personal income. They should not be placed in a mortgage subject to extraordinary increases in interest rates and monthly payments. For this reason the Mortgage Insurance Fund has put limitations on loan types with interest rate or payment increases which are more restrictive than the private mortgage insurance industry. At present, the only loan type available is Fixed Rate Mortgages, any mortgage whose interest rate and payment are fixed for the term of the mortgage. Loan Types (Ineligible) 1. Adjustable Rate Mortgages 2. Loans with Negative Amortization 3. Balloon Mortgages Loan Purposes (Eligible) Philosophy The Mortgage Insurance Fund is restricted by statute to insuring homeownership financing for lowand moderate-income homebuyers and homeowners. To insure loans for any purpose other than the creation and maintenance of quality affordable housing would be inconsistent with our public purpose. 1. Purchases - A mortgage to purchase a primary residence. 2. Purchase-Rehab - A mortgage to purchase and improve a property. 3. Rate and Term Refinance A loan to refinance a mortgage to lower the interest rate with no additional funds being advanced above the payoff of the existing first mortgage, purchase money second mortgages and prepayment penalties with reasonable closing costs. Loan Purposes (Ineligible) 1. Equity Take Out Refinances Any refinance where money is being used for other than the payoff of an existing mortgage, closing costs and home-improvements. 2. Purchase of a Second Home A second home is a residential property other than the borrower s primary place of residence. 3. Purchase of Investment Property An investment property would in addition to non-owner occupied property include, owner occupied property if the borrower would continue to own other residential property equally or better suited for the owner s primary residence. Properties (Eligible) Philosophy Properties must provide prospective buyers and owners with quality residential housing. Purchase properties should be free from deferred maintenance, especially in major systems such as plumbing, electricity and heating. Purchase-Rehab loans should address all deferred maintenance and required systems upgrades in plumbing, electricity and heating. Properties must meet all state and local building and zoning codes, laws and regulations. Properties must be compatible in size and functionality with size and needs of the family purchasing or occupying the property. The reason for this philosophy is the understanding that low and moderate-income property owners simply do not have significant savings or discretionary cash flows to fund major capital improvements in the property after they have purchased it and begun occupancy. 1. Single Family 2. Two to Four Family 3. Condominiums The Mortgage Insurance Fund follows Fannie Mae and MassHousing Mortgage condominium criteria. The MIF reserves the right to disqualify any condominium projects from insurance eligibility if that condominium project represents a high risk for low or moderate-income homebuyers. Reasons a project may be deemed ineligible for insurance could include but not necessarily be limited to declining or unstable values, inadequate reserves, deferred maintenance or a poorly managed owners association. The MIF also reserves the right to limit the Funds exposure level in any project to 25%. Page 2 of 7

3 Properties (Ineligible) 1. Cooperatives 2. Properties with Commercial Use Commercial use may be allowed on an exception basis, provided that the business located on the property is consistent with and maintains the residential character of the property. The business may not represent more than a 20% application of the usage of the buildings and land. Loan to Value Ratios (Eligible) Philosophy The Mortgage Insurance Fund believes that the single largest impediment to affordable homeownership in Massachusetts is the cost of housing. For that reason it believes it must be willing to assume risk associated with the lack of down payment or a borrower s ability to invest cash in their home. MIF may insure loans at higher loan to value ratios than those ratios set by the private mortgage insurance industry. 1. Purchase Mortgages The maximum LTV for all purchase money mortgages of single family properties and condominiums is 100%. The maximum LTV on two family properties is 97%. The maximum LTV on three and four family properties is 95%. Based on other risks associated with the property or borrower the MIF reserves the right to counter offer approval of coverage at a lower LTV as an offset to other risks in the loan. The MIF will base the LTV on the lower of the appraised value or sales price. 2. Purchase-Rehab The maximum LTV for purchase-rehab mortgages on a single family, condominium or two family properties is 97%. The maximum LTV for purchase-rehab mortgages on three and four family properties is 95%. The MIF will use the value as represented by the lower of the combination of purchase price and rehab costs or the value in an "as completed" appraisal. The loan will not have mortgage insurance coverage, however, and be claim eligible until all rehab work is completed according to plans, specifications and applicable building and zoning laws, codes and regulations. The lender, therefore, accepts responsibility for managing the disbursements of mortgage proceeds in a way as to manage the liability of the lender and the MIF. 3. Rate and Term Refinances MassHousing s anti-predatory initiative will consider rate and term refinances for both MassHousing and Non-MassHousing lenders originating for such borrowers who would benefit from a fixed rate mortgage as an alternative to excessive non-traditional financing circumstances. The maximum loan-to-value of 100% to include the existing mortgages, prepayment penalties and reasonable closing costs are not to exceed the fair market value. Minimum Down Payment and Acceptable Sources of Down Payment Please refer to MassHousing s Program Guidelines for down payment requirements on specific products which may be different from the MIF s general requirements for borrower down payment. Borrowers must evidence sufficient assets and other acceptable sources to cover 100% of their down payment and closing costs. Acceptable Sources of Down Payment Savings Money held on deposit in a bank for a minimum of thirty days Investments Money invested in SEC registered stocks, bonds and mutual funds whose value is verifiable through a registered securities dealer. Retirement Accounts MIF will recognize withdrawals and loans from 401K, IRA and other qualified retirement plans as an acceptable source of down payment. Personal Property The MIF will recognize owned assets of the borrower which may be sold for cash, with a verifiable written estimate of value from a recognized dealer (autos, boats, motorcycles etc.) or appraiser (jewelry, antiques, heirlooms etc.). A condition of the acceptability of the asset would require liquidation and verified deposit of cash proceeds from the sale into a bank account prior to closing. Gifts The MIF will recognize gifts of cash or equity from immediate family members for any amount of the down payment over and above the minimum cash required from the borrower (3% or 2.5%). The source of gifts should be verified in the same ways as verification (paper trail) of any other source of down payment or equity in order to ensure that the gift is not a debt obligation of the borrower. Page 3 of 7

4 Cash-On-Hand The MIF follows the Fannie Mae guidelines for cash-on-hand as outlined below. The MIF will insure mortgages for one unit properties only with cash-on-hand as an acceptable source of funds for the borrower s down payment (although the down payment may not be required) and/or funds for closing costs and/or prepaid items. The MIF expects the lender s verification and documentation of the following with respect to cash-on-hand funds: 1. The borrower customarily uses cash for expenses, and the amount of funds saved is consistent with the borrower s previous payment practices. An example for determining the reasonableness of the amount of funds saved would be through the use of an income and expense budget. 2. When cash-on-hand is identified at the time of application the MIF will expect the lender to verify that funds for the down payment and closing costs have been deposited in a financial institution or an acceptable escrow account. Funds must be on deposit at the time of application, or no less than 30 days prior to closing. 3. The lender must obtain a written statement from the borrower that discloses the source of funds and states that the funds have not been borrowed. 4. The borrower s credit report and other verifications should indicate limited (or no) use of credit and limited (or no) depository relationship between the borrower and a financial institution. Maximum, Minimum Loan Amounts Philosophy -The MIF by its charter must focus its insurance activity on low and moderate-income homebuyers. Maximum loan limits are set, based on funding source, consistent with the public purpose mission of the MIF. Maximum Loan Amount The MIF will adhere to the maximum loan limits of MassHousing Mortgage and Fannie Mae. The MIF will automatically adjust its limits as each agency adjusts their limits (either upward or downward). There is no maximum loan limit for bank portfolio affordable housing and community reinvestment mortgage programs. The MIF recognizes that established income limits, standard underwriting criteria, and bank program parameters and pricing create an appropriate loan limit by process. Maximum Income Limitations Philosophy The MIF by its charter is obligated to insure mortgage loans for only low and moderate-income homebuyers. MIF will publish from time to time median incomes for specified lending areas in the state. 1. MassHousing Mortgage/Fannie Mae Loans MIF will not insure any loan sold to MassHousing or Fannie Mae for borrower or borrowers whose income exceeds the federal agencies definitions of low and moderate-income as a percentage of defined area median income. 2. MassHousing Mortgage Maximum Income MIF will not insure any MassHousing Mortgage Purchase/Rehab loan for a borrower or borrowers whose incomes exceed MassHousing guidelines. 3. Bank Portfolio Loans MIF will apply income guidelines on a market by market basis that are consistent with the statutory definition of moderate income contained in Massachusetts state laws and regulations. These limits would generally not exceed 135% of median household income in the city or town where the financed property is located. Borrower Criteria Philosophy The MIF believes that of all criteria used to evaluate the credit worthiness and capacity of a low and moderate-income borrower, the individual borrower s credit must be the driving determinant factor. Low- and moderate-income homebuyers justifiably struggle to save and will not have significant savings, investments, nor liquid assets for down payments. With changes in our economy job stability is less within the control of individuals and must be looked at in a different light than it has in the past. In high cost housing areas such as Massachusetts, and the Boston SMSA in particular, borrowers are willing and able to devote higher percentages of their income to housing expenses than other areas of the country. Page 4 of 7

5 For these reasons the MIF sees the key criteria in determining borrower credit and capacity in the following ways. 1. Credit The borrower s making their first home purchase should be good credit risks. The following are means by which the MIF qualifies a borrower s credit. a. Late Payments Borrowers with minimal down payment or equity in their homes should have few, if any, late payments in the past two years. Exceptions may be made for small revolving lines of credit with a single late payment. A refinance borrower must have maintained a clean mortgage payment history for the previous two-year period b. Usage of Credit Low and moderate-income mortgage borrowers should demonstrate an ability to manage their non-mortgage debt. MIF expects the lenders underwriters to review such areas as the borrower s pattern of acquiring and using debt and the growth of outstanding debt in the months prior to applying for a mortgage with MIF insurance. c. Credit Scores Late payments and inappropriate credit usage will clearly evidence themselves in a borrower s credit score. While not relying solely on credit scores to determine any borrower s qualification for mortgage insurance the MIF will look at credit scores in the following ways. i. FICO Scores above 720 Low risk. Historic evidence from the MIF portfolio suggests that borrowers with credit scores above 720 represent low risk. Such a score may serve as a compensating factor for weakness in savings, debt ratios, employment history, and property issues. ii. FICO Scores between 660 and 720 Moderate risk. Historic evidence shows that borrowers with such credit scores represent average risk and experience an average incidence rate of default. iii. FICO Scores between 620 and 660 High risk. Historic evidence shows that these borrowers experience delinquency and default rates that are significantly above the average for the MIF portfolio. iv. FICO Scores below 620 Very High Risk. With very few exception borrowers with credit scores under 620 experience extraordinarily high delinquency and default rates. v. NO FICO Score available Moderate to High risk. There are segments of the market that, for a variety of reasons, do not have sufficient credit histories to qualify for traditional credit scores. The MIF would look for lenders to establish a credit history for such borrowers documenting a minimum of four alternative credit references (i.e. cancelled rent checks or receipts for heat, electricity, phone, car insurance or other regularly scheduled monthly payments). d. The Relationship Between Credit Scores, Debt Ratios and LTV MassHousing maintains that higher LTV loans should have higher credit standards than lower LTV loans. The following is the relationship that MassHousing applies when determining minimum credit scores and maximum debt ratios by LTV; LTV Minimum FICO Score Maximum Debt Ratio 100% % 97% % 95% and lower % 2. Employment While job stability can be considered a compensating factor in evaluating a borrower s creditworthiness for low- and moderate-income homebuyers it is one of the least weighted criteria. While periods of employment interruption are common in our economy what is more important is the borrower s ability to find new employment and to maintain excellent credit during periods of unemployment. a. Time in Current Position or Line of Work The suggested criteria is two years on the current job or line of trade. Very often a change in job precipitates the need to move and purchase a new home and /or such circumstances would be considered in accepting lesser time in the current job. Where a borrower has significantly changed their line of work, a minimum of one year would be required in their current position. b. Termination Involuntary termination (layoff, reduction of staff, company closing etc.) will not be used against a borrower in determining creditworthiness or capacity. Termination with cause (firing) should be accompanied by a letter of explanation by the borrower, and unless satisfactorily explained may be considered a contributing factor in disqualifying a borrower. Page 5 of 7

6 c. Interruptions Gaps in employment need only be explained for those extended periods of time and their credit was not negatively affected. d. MIPlus Benefits Lenders are reminded that MIF insurance carries mortgage payment protection for borrowers who become unemployed during the first ten years of the mortgage term. The coverage pays up to six months of principal and interest up to a total of $2,000 per month, prorata allocated between borrowers. MIPlus coverage may be viewed as a compensating factor for qualified, eligible borrowers. 3. Income Income must have a history, be verifiable in the present and be able to be relied upon in the future. Income history should cover a two-year period (minimum twelve-month period). It must be verifiable in writing through traditional sources or tax returns. It must carry with it a reasonable certainty for continuance for a minimum of three years going forward. a. Primary Employment Gross monthly income is calculated by using the current pay period (hour, day, week, bi-weekly period etc.) and multiplying out based on a 52-week year and divided by twelve months (gross weekly pay times 52 weeks divided by twelve months). b. Second Job Income May be used if the second job has a twenty-four month history and is likely to continue. c. Overtime There must be a two-year history, the borrower must be currently receiving overtime and the likelihood of overtime must be relevant, pertinent and appropriate to the job. d. Commissions Commissions should be verified by tax returns to determine how non-reimbursed business expenses affect the net income earned from commissions. Again, commission like any other source of income should have a two-year history. Commissions, again, should be annualized and divided by twelve months to determine gross monthly income. This is to avoid weighting too heavily on seasonal commissions earned in high sales volume months or quarters. e. Bonus Income Bonus income must have at least a two-year history and be verified as a portion of the borrower's compensation plan going forward. f. Rental Income There are two methods for evaluating rental income for qualifying purposes on two-to-four family properties. One, gross ratios are used where rental income is disregarded totally and secondly, net ratios are used where a percentage of rental income is used in calculating the borrower s ability to make their mortgage payments promptly. g. Alimony, Child Support & Separate Maintenance At least a six month track record evidenced by bank deposits and/or canceled checks will be necessary to be considered as income. A copy of the final divorce decree or maintenance agreement must also be submitted. Income from this source must be verified to be continuing for at least another three years to be acceptable. h. Income from Self-Employment The borrower must be self-employed for a minimum of time necessary to produce two full year s income tax schedules and statements on the business. Income will be determined by using Fannie Mae s Form F1084 (Self-Employed Income Analysis Schedule). The MIF will use the average of two years income. It will use the higher of the average or most recent year s income with a profit and loss statement verifying steady growth in the business. i. Other Income All other income such as capital gain income must be verified through tax returns, have a two-year history and a strong likelihood of continuance. 4. Housing and Total Debt as a Percentage of Income The borrower s capacity is determined by measuring the total housing and debt as a percentage of gross monthly income. a. Total Debt Total monthly credit obligations should not exceed 41% of borrower s gross monthly income. Total monthly credit obligations include: i. Monthly Housing Debt ii. Installment Credit Debt with ten or more payments remaining. Installment debt maybe prepaid to be excluded from total monthly obligations. iii. Credit Card and Open Lines of Credit Minimum monthly payments as required on the merged credit report are used, typically the minimum monthly payments are 2%. iv. Alimony or Child Support The MIF will not allow the payment of alimony or child support to be treated as a reduction of borrower s gross monthly income. It will be treated as a recurring monthly obligation. Page 6 of 7

7 v. Other Debts Any debt represented by a contract, deferred student loans, payment of interest and regular monthly payments with ten months or more remaining must be included in total monthly debt. b. Two-to Four Family Debt Calculations The MIF will apply the following ratio test for borrowers purchasing multi-family properties. i. Disregarding Rental Income With no consideration of rental income from other units in the subject property the borrower s housing and total debt ratios should not exceed 58% for two family properties and 68% for three and four family properties. ii. Use of Rental Income The MIF will use 75% of currently occupied unit on two family properties and 65% on three and four family properties as verified by the appraisal. The MIF will use 50% of rental income from vacant units as verified by the appraisal. This net rental income should be added to the borrowers underwriting income. c. Exceptions The MIF will approve loans above 41% total debt ratio with meaningful offsets on a case by case basis. Such criteria may include, but not be limited to, reduced commuting expenses and the energy efficiency of the home. 5. Savings and Reserves The MIF feels that borrowers should have some residual savings left over after closing especially on a very low down payment mortgage to borrowers with high total debt ratios. Other Criteria Philosophy The Mortgage Insurance Fund s primary concern will always be on preserving the borrower s equity in the real estate and their ability to make obligated monthly mortgage payments. Any criteria that dilute the borrower s equity or their ability to sell their property in the event of financial hardship will be excluded as qualifying criteria. 1. Seller Contributions a. 3% Maximum Seller Contribution on LTV of 90.01% or greater (up to 97%) b. 6% Maximum Seller Contribution on LTV of 90.00% or less c. No maximum seller concessions are allowed on three and four family property mortgage loans 2. Age of Documentation at Underwriting a. Credit Report not more than 90 days old b. Appraisal not more than 90 days old Page 7 of 7

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