Buying a home is complex – and many people just don’t understand the process or what it takes to get a mortgage.

Consumer surveys conducted by Fannie Mae’s Economic Research and Strategy Group (ESR) have shown 85 percent think they need to put more down (12-15 percent) than is actually required (3 percent for Fannie Mae’s HomeReadyÒ program, for those who qualify).

Research from ESR’s National Housing Survey shows that this common misunderstanding is even greater among households of modest means and minority households. More than half (54 percent) of those with income below $50,000 did not know what the minimum down payment could be. Similarly, 47 percent of African Americans and 48 percent of Hispanics were unaware.

Credit Education is Important

A home is the largest investment most consumers will ever make. Yet, few seek out the advice of independent professionals who could help them through the process like HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. “The availability of high-quality and independent professional housing advice could be the best kept secret in the industry,” says Joe Weisbord, a director in Fannie Mae’s Single-Family business who works on access to credit.

Although not well known, it’s an approach that works.

A study of the two-year loan performance of more than 18,000 pre-purchase counseling clients from the NeighborWorks America’s network found clients who received counseling were one-third less likely to become 90 or more days delinquent in the two years since obtaining their loan when compared to similar borrowers who did not receive pre-purchase counseling.

Empowering Borrowers

All HomeReady borrowers complete an online education course offered by Framework Homeownership.

Framework continues to get high marks from first time and repeat homebuyers. It provides the essential knowledge to prepare borrowers for homeownership.

But we’ve recently added flexibility for more in-depth help for buyers still facing real barriers like weak credit and limited savings. We’ve expanded our guidelines to accommodate one-on-one counseling, so consumers who meet with advisors for customized consultation (involving a comprehensive review of goals, household budget, and credit) can fulfill HomeReady’s educational requirement and be qualified with higher LTVs. Because these borrowers have gone through counseling that includes a thorough review of their budget and credit, so they can sustain that level of debt to income ratio (DTI).

We think this change opens the doors to homeownership for borrowers who were unable to qualify in the past based on their DTI. They can complete one-on-one counseling, and move into homeownership when they are ready.

The counseling industry is very excited about this change, and happy to be recognized for the great work that they do.

Hitting Home

Homeownership advisors are the untapped resource that can prepare today’s homebuyers for sustainable ownership.

Fannie Mae will continue to work with credit unions, real estate professionals, and housing counseling agencies to promote homebuyer education and responsible homeownership.

Like you, we want members to make housing decisions that reflect positively on all parties involved.

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