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New Survey: Consumers Believe Mortgages are Easy to Get

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consumers_agent_mortgage_papersJust in time for the 2014 home-buying season, attitudes towards access to mortgage credit are improving and most Americans now believe it would be easy for them to get a mortgage, according to Fannie Mae’s January National Housing Survey.

Consumer attitudes regarding the ease of getting a mortgage climbed 2 percentage points to an all-time survey high of 52 percent, while those who think it would be difficult dropped 3 points to 45 percent. This indicates that consumers perceive that mortgage credit is more accessible.

“A majority of consumers now believe that it is getting easier to get a mortgage. For the first time in the National Housing Survey’s three-and-a-half-year history, the share of respondents who says it is easy to get a mortgage surpassed the 50-percent mark, exceeding those who says it would be difficult by 7 percentage points,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The gradual upward trend in this indicator during the last few months bodes well for the housing recovery and may be contributing to this month’s increase in consumers’ intention to buy rather than rent their next home.”

The Fannie Mae findings correspond to data from Ellie Mae showing that conditions for mortgage applicants are improving. By the end of last year median FICO scores for approved mortgages had fallen from 748 to 727 and the percentage of approved purchase loans rose from 34 percent at the end of 2012 to 54 percent at the end of 2013.

Also, Wells Fargo announced recently it will begin origination Federal Housing Administration-backed purchase loans for borrowers with credit scores as low as 600, the Journal reported. The bank previously had a limit of 640 through its retail channel. Borrowers with credit scores below 620 are usually considered subprime.

However Prudential Real Estate’s Consumer Outlook Survey, taken a month or more before the Fannie Mae survey, found that less than 40 percent of consumers think that it will be easier to secure a mortgage in the coming buying season despite data showing lending standards in a fourth quarter 2013 survey. In a series of national consumer surveys over 3013, Prudential Real Estate tracked consumer attitudes towards changing conditions in real estate markets, including access to financing. The January 2014 Fannie Mae National Housing Survey was conducted between January 1, 2014 and January 21, 2014. Most of the data collection occurred during the first two weeks of this period.

Prudential found that just 39 percent of respondents believe it will be easier to secure a mortgage loan in 2014.

Other highlights from the Fannie Mae survey:

• Those who say it is a good time to buy a house decreased from last month, down 2 percentage points to 65 percent.

• Those who say it is a good time to sell a house increased 5 percentage points from last month to 38 percent.

• The average 12-month rental price change expectation decreased from last month to 2.8 percent, tying the all-time survey low.

• Forty-eight percent of those surveyed says home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, a decrease of 5 percentage points from last month.

• The share of respondents who says they would buy if they were going to move hit an all-time survey high of 70 percent, and those who say they would rent at an all-time low of 26.

For more information, visit www.realestateeconomywatch.com.

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