The 50% Solution: Fannie Mae DTI Increase To 50% Could Add 95K Borrowers Each Year

Fannie Mae has opened the credit floodgates a bit by expanding their Debt-to-income (DTI) hurdle for borrowers from 45% to 50%. According to the Urban Institute, this change could lead to nearly 95,000 new mortgage borrowers.

Here is the story from Originator Times:

As the GSEs seek to ease access to credit and allow more homebuyers into the market, Urban Institute pointed out one change that could allow nearly 100,000 new homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage each year.

Earlier this year, mortgage giant Fannie Mae announced it was raising its debt-to-income ratio to further expand mortgage lending. The GSE raised its limit up to 50%, up from the previous limit of 45%. Even under the only limit, Fannie Mae allowed for flexibility up to 50% DTI for certain case files with strong compensation factors.

However, that flexibility was almost always offered to mortgages with loan-to-value rations lower than 80%. This new increase is significant as increasingly, 3% down payments are becoming the new normal, even on conventional loans.

Urban Institute estimated that 95,000 new loans will be approved each year due to Fannie Mae’s DTI increase, it stated in a report written by Edward Golding, Laurie Goodman and Jun Zhu.

The report also explained a disproportionate share of the new loans will go toward black and Latino families as they are 1.5 times more likely to have DTI ratios above 45%.The new loans will also be riskier as the probability the mortgage will fall into default increased 31% for those with DTI ratios between 45% and 50% when compared with the median DTI level of 35%.

The increase in the DTI ratio will also allow Fannie Mae to purchase 3.4% more loans. Fannie Mae estimated that between 3% and 4% of recent applications were approved by the AUS and held DTI rations between 45% and 50%, but were ineligible due to additional overlays. (From Golding, Goodman and Zhu [2017]).

The Urban Institute has a table showing that Fannie Mae has a history of purchasing high DTI loans (>45%) from originators, although that number has declined after the housing bubble burst (2010-16).

In terms of default risk (90 days and greater late payments), higher DTI loans are more risky as are higher loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans. The hazard ratio is relative to DTI ratios of 25% or less.

Conclusion? Higher DTI loans are more risky but allow more minority borrowers into homeownership. What is missing from the Urban Institute study is the possible impact of deflating home prices (again) and a rise in unemployment (a repeat of the 2007-2009 housing and financial crisis).

Several lenders around the US are already originating 100% LTV home loans like Navy Federal Credit Union. 

Let us hope that the wave of higher DTI and LTV lending (along with lowering of FICO scores) doesn’t lead to a repeat of the US experience from 1995-2007.



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