Is it Hard to Get a Mortgage these Days?

Potential homebuyers and refinancers often hear mortgage lending standards are too tight — that it’s hard to qualify for a mortgage without perfect credit. But how hard is it, really, to get a mortgage these days?

By Polyana da Costa,

It depends on whom you ask and what you mean, exactly, when you ask it.

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“If someone is saying that it’s harder to get a mortgage today than it was at the height of the boom — when there was no income documentation requirement — yes, of course it’s harder to get a mortgage today than it was at the height of the insanity,” says Bob Walters, chief economist at Quicken Loans.

But there’s a perception that it’s “extraordinarily difficult” to get a mortgage when in reality, borrowers have no problem getting one when they have stable incomes, some equity or down payment, and decent credit scores, Walters says.

So why is there a perception that it’s so difficult to get a loan?

Borrowers have to jump through more hoops to get a loan these days, says Pava Leyrer, president of Heritage National Mortgage in Grandville, Mich.

“The scrutiny that goes into a mortgage now is much tighter,” she says. “There are great-credit borrowers that are having to jump hoops, and it’s a matter of how many hoops and whether or not the underwriter lights them on fire or not.”

One common hurdle homebuyers face when getting a loan is when lenders question “unusual” deposits in their accounts. A mere transfer from the borrower’s savings to checking account or a cash gift from Grandma can be viewed as a red flag by the lender, Leyrer says. That’s especially true for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA loans.

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