Fannie Mae relaxes standards slightly to allow for 3% down refinances

Mortgage must already be owned by Fannie Mae

Fannie Mae did more Monday than just announcing that it planned to grant lenders “freedom” from buyback risk. The government-sponsored enterprise also revealed to lenders that it is expanding its HomeReady program, which features Fannie Mae’s 3% down mortgage.

Fannie Mae made the announcement in a bulletin sent to lenders Monday. In the bulletin, Fannie Mae said that it is expanding its HomeReady program to allow for up to 97% loan-to-value ratio refinances for loans that are already owned by Fannie Mae. 

Previously, Fannie Mae’s maximum allowable LTV ratio for certain refinances was 95%.

Specifically, Fannie said that it will soon allow for LTVs of 97% on one-unit limited cash-out refinance transactions that are underwritten by Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter when the mortgage being refinanced is owned by Fannie Mae.

Additionally, Fannie Mae said that the requirement that the existing mortgage being refinanced be owned by Fannie Mae does not apply when the LTV is 95% or less, or when the CLTV only exceeds 95% due to a Community Seconds loan.

Fannie Mae said that the changes are part of its continuing effort to add features to the HomeReady program that enable lenders to expand access to credit in a “safe and responsible” manner.

The changes don’t come as a surprise, as Fannie Mae said in July that it planned to announce these exact changes later this year.

Fannie Mae also said Monday that it is expanding current HomeReady eligibility for temporary buydowns and adjustable-rate mortgages to include three- to four-unit properties to align with the GSEs current standard eligibility requirements for that property type.

Fannie Mae also announced that it is offering lenders some additional incentives to try to get high-LTV borrowers to participate in housing counseling prior to obtaining a mortgage.

According to Fannie Mae, these changes take effect on Dec. 10, 2016.

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