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Joni Baldwin

Joni Baldwin
Worldwide, REALTORS®
Keller, TX 76248

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Real Estate News

Latest Realty News from NAR

43% Debt-to-Income? FHA Imposing Hurdles

If you’ve been following the news you might have heard that FHA is putting up hurdles for higher-risk borrowers to get their home loan application approved.

The Federal Housing Administration on March 14 said applicants with a credit score of 620 or lower or debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent would get their loan application reviewed manually rather than through automated underwriting. This isn’t a new policy. It’s a return to a policy the agency had but moved away from in 2016.

As a result of this return to its previous practice, high-risk borrowers will still have their application reviewed but it will get extra scrutiny and take longer.

In a sense, the agency is going back to basics. There’s been an uptick in higher risk loans getting into its insurance fund, and it wants to take action before problems appear. “Continuing to endorse mortgages with higher risk characteristics, without changes, negatively affects the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund,” the agency says in its memo announcing the policy

To be sure, many applicants won’t get approved for a loan now. But for others, it just means the decision will take longer.

You can get more on the issue in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR. also covered are the Midwestern floods. They’re a month behind us now, but the effects still linger. Some areas in Nebraska were particularly hard hit, in part because rivers were frozen at the time of the flooding. The rising water broke up the river ice into big chunks, some as big as five feet in diameter. In some areas, the chunks of ice clogged drains and damaged roads and property.

REALTORS® in  the state and elsewhere stepped up to help people who needed it, but there’s still a lot of digging out to do. The video tells you how to make a donation if you want to help.

The video also looks at a generational shift that’s interesting and also important to your marketing. Gen Xers, the age cohort born between the late 1960s and early 1980s, are now the new sandwich generation. That’s the generation in which you’re most likely to have both children  and aging parents at home. For a long time baby boomers were in this position, but the baton has been handed off. That means you’re more likely to see these Gen Xers rather than baby boomers looking for bigger homes.

Access and share the video, which is sponsored this week by the REALTOR Benefits® Program.

Self-employed? You Have a New Friend When Applying for a Home Loan

The two largest sources of mortgage money in the United States want you to know your chances of getting approved for a home loan if you’re self-employed has just gotten a lot better.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have rolled out new automated underwriting technology for lenders that take a lot of the guesswork and risk out of the approval process for mortgage applications of the self-employed.

One of the reasons lenders have been reluctant to approve loans if you’re self-employed is because it’s expensive, time-consuming, and labor intensive to gather and analyze the paperwork they need to verify your income and gauge your risk. It’s just so much easier and profitable if you’re a wage or salary employee who gets a w2 issued by an employer.

But the new technology, incorporated into the companies automated underwriting systems, enables lenders to analyze the paperwork quickly and accurately so they can come to a decision in a fraction of the time it used to take and with far less guesswork involved.

The process potentially increases efficiency so much that even small community banks in rural areas can find it cost-effective to consider loan applications that before they might have passed on.

No process is perfect and there’s bound to be problems as glitches are worked out, but the new procedures show Fannie and Freddie are trying to remove some of the friction self-employed homebuyers face.

The new underwriting is a top story in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR. Also covered is NAR’s report that finds staging leads to faster sales and can help get higher prices.

The video also excerpts from the testimony of three Realtors® who went before Congress in the last couple of weeks to give their views on data privacy, mortgage market reform, and flood insurance. Realtors® are in a good position to talk about data privacy because their business depends in part on their ability to take care of their customers’ data. At the same time, though, they’re mostly small businesses with limited resources to invest in elaborate data security processes. What’s needed is strong, consistent standards that everybody—including the big data firms that Realtors® typically work with—must follow.

On mortgage reform, NAR President-elect Vince Malta said the federal government must continue to back conforming conventional loans after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are taken out from under government control. And on flood insurance, a Realtor® reminded lawmakers that half of flood insurance claims come from inland areas. That’s an important message, because flood insurance is perceived to be a coastal issue.

Access and share the video.

Is That Email Really From NAR? How to Know

Once in a while you might get an email that looks like it’s from NAR but really isn’t. Like so many other phishing scams, these emails try to look like they’re official correspondence from a trusted source so they can get one of two things from you: personal data or credit card info.

How do you know if it’s really from NAR? Here are a few ways to check.

First, look at the return email address. If it says something like, “,” it’s not from NAR. NAR email only comes from the address. Second, hover your cursor over any file attachments or links or buttons. When you do that, a box will open that provides the location of the file. If it’s from NAR, the path will make that clear. If it’s not, it will consist of all sorts of baffling letters and numbers, because the sender is using obscure platforms.

It’s also helpful to know NAR never asks for donations on behalf of individuals. Any donations it seeks is through the REALTORS® Relief Foundation and these are for broad causes, like relief after a tornado, hurricane, fire, or earthquake.

Tips for identifying scams that try to exploit NAR are in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video. The video walks you through what to look for and also points to resources at to get more detailed guidance.

The video also looks at why the latest moves by the Federal Reserve could help home sales just as the spring weather arrives, what steps Congress can take to ease affordability woes home buyers are facing, and what competitive factors are brokerage firms facing today.

The video also looks at NAR’s new national ad campaign, which puts the focus on how the Code of Ethics differentiates real estate agents from REALTORS®.

Access the video. 



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