The Lending Scene

by Stephanie Sims


Stephanie Sims is Chicago Agent’s managing editor.

The lending landscape is a tricky one to navigate. Even though these months toward the end of the year are typically slow for agents, they should still stay on top of changing guidelines and restrictions in the lending industry. They are: interest rates are poised to increase, but no one is certain when that will happen or by how much;  there are new and different mortgage incentives to be aware of; and the Federal Housing Finance Agency unveiled a reform plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a proposal that could take shape without legislation.

Even though mortgage applications have slightly decreased within the last month or so, the number of mortgages homeowners have received is at a six-year high, and it looks like the trend will continue.

“Lending restrictions are still tight, but they are starting to loosen up a bit with credit requirements, lower down payments and exception-based debt-to-income qualifications,” says Sharbel Shamoon, vice president of residential lending with PERL Mortgage, Inc., who graces our cover. “We are seeing more lenders drop their minimum credit score requirement as low as 620, and there are some lenders that will go below 600. We’re also seeing lower down payment programs for jumbo (as low as 10 percent), conventional loans (some programs even as low as 3 percent) and ‘portfolio’ lending options for non-warrantable condos, foreign nationals and investors.”

A panel of top lenders and mortgage experts answer more of agents’ most common lending questions in our cover story on page 12. Have a question they didn’t answer? Let me know: [email protected]

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