For Real Estate Investors, Finding Loans Is Tougher Than Finding Good Deals


With home prices falling across most parts of the country, investors in real estate are finding good value in certain rental properties.  Unfortunately, they’re also finding it harder to get approved for a home loan.

After getting stung by defaults, conforming mortgage standards for non-owner occupied home loans tightened dramatically last quarter.

One major change was the reduction in the total number of homes Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac will finance for any one borrower.

Prior to the chance, the number of financed properties could be as high as 10.  Today, that number is 4, stinging investors with large real estate portfolios.  Going forward, buying properties isn’t the problem; financing them with conforming mortgage money is.

Another guideline change mandates larger downpayments.

Versus early-2008, when a real estate investor could buy a home with 10 percent down, today’s investor is required to pay 15.  But, as an added wrinkle, few private mortgage insurers write policies against rental homes anymore, rendering the 15 percent downpayment insufficient.  The de facto requirement, therefore, is now 20 percent down.

And then came the fees.

As part of its “pay-for-risk” pricing model, Fannie Mae added mandatory fees to all of its investor property mortgages this year.  Based on loan-to-value, the fees are:

  • 75% LTV or less: 1.750 percent of the borrowed amount
  • 75.01 – 80.00% LTV : 3.000 percent of the borrowed amount
  • Greater than 80% LTV : 3.750 percent of the borrowed amount

So, if your personal plan includes the purchase of investment properties in 2009, consider the impact that tighter conforming guidelines, larger downpayments and higher fees will have on your bottom line.

All things considered, now may be a good time to make that rental property bid.  Sure, prices may fall going forward, but increased acquisition costs may wipe out the long-term gains.