Gap in Mortgage Rates – Cause of the Divide

As the recession continues to affect Americans, the gap between the wealthy and the poor is steadily increasing. Data recorded by the Census Bureau shows that there are more individuals living in poverty than ever recorded. The Great Recession has added 6 million people to the poverty ranks. As the gap continues to grow between the rich and poor, so does the ability to obtain a mortgage between individuals with low credit scores and those with high scores.

Harder to Qualify for a Mortgage

Obtaining a mortgage with a good rate has become increasingly difficult since the meltdown of the mortgage industry, a feat that is already difficult for those of limited means. According to a poll taken by Zillow Mortgage Market Place, nearly 33% of Americans are unlikely to qualify for a mortgage because of low credit scores. When using Zillow to search for loans, no results were yielded for individuals whose credit scores were 620 and below. According to Freddie Mac, lenders have returned to placing emphasis on a borrower’s credit history, capacity, and collateral.

There remain few options for individuals with low credit scores. In the unlikely case of getting their loan applications looked at thoroughly by a loan officer, individuals are simply told to improve their credit scores in order to qualify. However, many individuals are finding this to be a difficult task, and have to put their dreams of home ownership on hold. When you don’t have the cash flow to get the bills paid on time, your credit score suffers.

Higher Scores Only Help a Little

Even individuals with good credit scores are having a hard time securing mortgages with good rates. Banks and mortgage companies have become more selective in offering mortgages to consumers. Borrowers with credit scores of 720 and higher are receiving slightly better mortgage rates than individuals with scores ranging from 620 to 719.

According to Zillow, borrowers with mid-range credit scores (620 to 719) are receiving annual percentage rates of 4.73 to 4.44 percent. Borrowers with credit scores above 720 receive annual percentage rates of 4.3 percent. Borrowers with great credit scores were once able to get mortgages far better than those with average credit. This is no longer the case. Even those with credit scores of 780 and higher are seeing only slightly better rates than those with mid-range credit scores.

Difficulties for the Self-Employed

Not only are borrowers with low credit scores having a hard time securing mortgages, but so are self-employed individuals. Even with good credit scores, individuals who are self-employed have to go through great lengths to prove they are credit worthy. Those who are self-employed should be prepared to present current bank statements and tax records. Lenders are also requesting 401 (k) records to prove that individuals have savings and investments that can be easily liquidated.

Refinancing Obstacles

It is also more difficult for borrowers to refinance existing loans, mainly because of reduced equity in their homes. This issue also affects individuals with great credit. The FHA has started a new program to assist borrowers who are “underwater” on their homes, but it is yet to be seen whether this will actually help those in need.

America is experiencing record low mortgage rates. The large amount of foreclosures in America has substantially driven homes prices down. The problem, however, is that most Americans are not able to qualify for mortgages. In the subprime mortgage era, many individuals with low credit scores were able to buy homes. However, this contributed to the housing bubble in America, and those lending practices were eliminated.

The meltdown in the housing industry and the recession has changed the way people get mortgages in America. Lenders are simply hesitant to lend out money. In the wake of the financial bailouts administered by the government, there has come increased pressure from Washington for lenders to lend out money. However, there has been little change in new lending practices. Lenders are taking every precaution they deem necessary before approving individuals for mortgages. With the socio-economic gap growing wider, it will remain hard for people with low credit scores and struggling wages to qualify for loans.