Getting a Mortgage About to Get Easier


Times have been tough for would-be homebuyers, despite record-low mortgage rates and plummeting home prices. Primarily that's because lenders have raised down-payment and credit score requirements. In the following piece, explains why it soon may become a lot easier for borrowers to qualify and to obtain the best-priced mortgages available.

After more than

two years of misery in the housing market, the worst may finally be over.

A handful of recent developments in the mortgage market all point to an easing of lending standards, which have been onerously high since 2008. Private lenders and the federal government have reinvigorated the jumbo mortgage market, making bigger loans more available to more borrowers. And in general, would-be homeowners can now qualify for a loan with a lower credit score and make a smaller down payment – in some cases, as low as 5 percent. Those moves, taken together, mean that more borrowers have access to mortgages, a necessary precondition for housing to rebound.

"When you see those moves on the upswing, it gives you a hint of what's coming later on," says Chip Cummings, president of Northwind Financial, a consulting company for mortgage and Realtor firms.

Of course, these are only the first signs of what could be a very long recovery. So far, the changes in the private lending market are aimed strictly at the best loan applicants, those with credit scores of 700 or higher. Riskier borrowers are still undesirable in the eyes of the banks – even the Federal Housing Administration hasraised the floor on credit scoresfor prospective applicants. And without a drop in unemployment and other economic improvements, demand for the new mortgages may not keep pace with supply. But the moves do suggest that lenders, at least, are more willing – and the easier it is to get a loan, the easier it is to get a house.

Here's a closer look at the three changes.

Originally published