Friday, August 10, 2007

How Mortgages are funded

Wall Street has been roiling in turmoil due to the "crisis" in the sub-prime market. I ran across this article that describes how mortgage loans are funded and what the underlying problem is.

Seems there are 3 ways for a mortgage to get funded:

  1. GSE's - these are government secured enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae. These loans are secured by the Federal government and are limited to $417k. Duplexes, tri-plexes and four-plexes have higher limits as does Alaska and Hawaii.
  2. Portfolio lending- this is where banks lend money out of their deposits. These are typically ARMs' and have very specific underwriting criteria (i.e. they screen their borrowers very carefully)
  3. Securitized mortgage pools - these are made up of a wide variety of loans and sold to Wall Street investors. These loans run the gamut from sub-prime to fixed to ARMs and are assessed for risk. This is where all of the problem area is at the moment. Investors are uncertain about the underlying equity of the real estate in these loan pools at the moment and so are not bidding on the loans. In the end it is what the Wall Street investors bid that determine interest rates of these loans.

So if you qualify under methods 1 or 2 above there is no crisis to speak of. It's when you need to get a loan from category 3 that there is a crisis. For people in expensive real estate markets this is the issue. For us in lower priced markets with good credit there is no problem getting loans. In fact, CountryWide (the largest lender with loads of problems trying to sell their category 3 loans) just approved me for a $200k, 5% down payment no doc loan. It took about 3 hours to approve.'

For many, this might be the best time to buy.

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