The majority of mortgage industry professionals said they believed that the lowering of the down payment to 3 percent for first-time homebuyers by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was a step in the right direction for the housing market, according to the Collingwood Group's November 2014 Mortgage Industry Outlook Report released earlier this week.
In a survey conducted online distributed to a diverse group of mortgage and housing industry professionals, 69 percent of respondents said that lowering the down payment was a move in the right direction for housing, while 31 percent said it was a move in the wrong direction, according to the Collingwood Group. Though the survey respondents represented professionals who work in all phases of the mortgage process, the largest percentage of respondents (50 percent) were lenders or originators.
According to the Collingwood Group, the survey respondents who believed lowering the down payment was a positive move said it reflected concern of policymakers with current market dynamics, and it indicated a willingness on the part of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to ease lending standards. At the same time, most respondents pointed out the existence of other high loan-to-value (LTV) products and said they believed the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offered the best option.
"The announcement of a low down payment mortgage option may create more opportunities for buyers to afford housing; however, it falls short of appropriately loosening tightened credit standards for other LTV loans," one anonymous survey respondent said in the report. "The 97 percent allows the GSEs to capture loans that would otherwise go to FHA."
According to the Collingwood Group's report, this point raised the question as to whether FHA would lower its insurance premiums sometime in 2015 in order to compete. A spokesperson said it has not been determined whether the premiums will be lowered.
"FHA has made no decisions regarding the premiums," HUD press secretary Cameron French said. "We are regularly evaluating a number of factors to ensure our premiums are at the right levels. As a result of the most recent annual report, we are looking through new information and will use that to inform any future decisions."