Home buyers struggle to get loans

April 17, 2008 6:52:53 PM PDT
It's hard to buy a home or refinance when the rules keep changing.

Governor Schwarzenegger praised the increase in mortgage availability in California.

But brokers are still waiting for the trickle down effect.

It's hard to buy a home or refinance when the rules keep changing. Experts say lending polices are simply unpredictable.

Doug Jones has been in the mortgage business for 40 years.

"I've seen higher interest rates but I've never seen such instability and where even the banks don't know what they're going to do tomorrow," said Doug Jones from Mortgage Magic.

The Bay Area was suppose to get some relief when Congress redefined conforming loans in high cost regions.

That means loans between the old limit of $417,000 dollars and a new cap of more than $729,000 dollars should come with a better interest rate.

Cathy Warshawski says that loan range is still more expensive: about a half to a full point above the old conforming rates.

"We certainly thought if it was at the conforming rate, you could get a six percent loan for what was considered a jumbo loan in the past that we thought it would help stimulate the housing market and that hasn't happened yet," said Cathy Warshawsky from Bay Area Loan.

There are a number of factors playing into this loan turmoil. Lenders are being tight with their money, the sub-prime fallout means much more loan documentation is required and housing values are dropping.

In Rachel Zamora's case the lender required a second appraisal on her refinance application. It came in $150,000 dollars less then the first appraisal.

"That means we can't do all the things we planned to do. It's just a shock to find out your home isn't worth what it used to be and it dropped so much," said refinance applicant Rachel Zamora.

As home values decline, it's harder to get out of those adjustable mortgages and lock in a fixed rate.

Until lending policies stabilize, mortgage brokers say paperwork is the least of their challenges.

"Today, I can start down a road with a customer and that loan may not be there next week, so there's a real difficulty," said Jones.

While it hasn't been a big boost yet, Governor Schwarzenegger is urging Congress to make the higher conforming loan limits in California permanent.

Right now, they are set to expire at the end of the year.


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