In December 2011, Congress reached a last-minute deal to fund the payroll tax cut extension. The payroll tax extension will provide a 2% tax reduction for individuals earning up to $106,800, so the tax extension will be very helpful for many Americans who are struggling during these tough economic times. But like so many things in our tangled economy, there’s a flip side. In this case, the tax cut deal has a rippling effect that will impact the mortgage world.
Here’s what’s happening and what it means to home loan rates:
What is happening and why? To put it bluntly, the passage of the payroll tax cut extension is being funded via a mandate to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the nation’s largest providers of mortgage money) to increase their guarantee fees or “g-fee’s” by at least 10 basis points on the rate. So rather than giving a par rate of 4.00%, for example, the par rate is now increased by at least 10 basis points, or approximately 4.10%. But as you probably know…home loan rates are priced and offered in .125% increments, so this will most likely impact the consumer by .125% in rate. Whether you agree or not on the politics behind this cost being passed along to folks who are taking out mortgages, the Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that the increase will ultimately pay for about $35.7 Billion of the cost of the payroll tax extension.
What exactly is this “g-fee”? The guarantee fee or “g-fee” is an amount charged by mortgage-backed securities (MBS) providers, like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, to help protect against credit-related losses in the overall mortgage portfolio. In other words, it acts a lot like insurance and helps lower the overall risk…which means home loans can be offered at terrific interest rates to borrowers that have good – but not perfect – credit.
What exactly is the impact of the rate increase? For example, for a $200,000 home loan, the increased g-fee (assuming a .125% increase in rate) would equate to $250 more per year in interest, or $7,500 more over 30 years. Someone buying or refinancing a home can certainly choose to buy down the cost with cash up front – but most folks will not do this.
Who will this impact? The change will impact all new borrowers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. The bill will also impact Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans by increasing the annual mortgage insurance premium that borrowers pay by one-tenth of a percent.
When will it start? Officially, the increase to guarantee fees will begin on April 1, 2012. However, the increase is already starting to be seen in rate sheets right now, since home loans being originated now will likely not be closed, pooled and securitized until April…and therefore will need the increased g-fee priced in earlier.
How long will this be in effect? The increase will be effective through October 1, 2021.
The bottom line is that the g-fees will be going up…and this will impact homebuyers looking to obtain a home loan through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA.
The good news is that home loan rates are still at historic lows right now, and it’s a great time to purchase a new home or refinance. If you or anyone you know has any questions, please call or email!