Looking at all of the various mortgage programs available to the public, it would appear that most consumers would be able to tap into a low priced mortgage whether they are purchasing a home or refinancing an existing loan. Unfortunately, as affordable mortgage rates continue to be available, tougher guidelines are making it more difficult for consumers to meet the standards.

For several months, mortgage rates have seen the lowest pricing in nearly fifty years. While it would seem that everyone would be jumping at the opportunity to realize the dream of owning a home, actually the opposite is true. The guidelines for obtaining a mortgage have become increasingly stricter in order to obtain an approval. Conforming mortgages now require higher credit scores and a clean credit history at a time when jobs are tight and salaries may have decreased. Fannie Mae has a maximum debt to income ratio of 45% and now requires seven years out from a bankruptcy, up from five years, in order to consider a mortgage approval. If a borrower has sold a previous home as a short sale, Fannie Mae will not approve a loan for that individual for a minimum of twenty-four months. These are just a few of the more recent changes since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are constantly being updated, sometimes on a daily basis. For a number of years, many home buyers have used FHA mortgages because of the low down payment requirements. FHA (Federal Housing Administration) has always been consumer friendly, but they too, have changed their guidelines. Starting April 9th, the upfront mortgage insurance premium on all FHA loans will be 1.75% and the annual mortgage insurance premium will increase by 0.10 percent. Coming June, 2012, the annual MIP for FHA loan above $625,500 will tap out at 0.35%. Also starting on April 1st, any disputed credit accounts or collections/judgments with a total balance of $1,000 or more must be resolved by payment in full or with a payment agreement. Plans are also in the works for a reduction of seller concessions to three percent. While it is understandable that these entities are protecting themselves and taxpayers when putting these changes in place, the process is only getting more difficult for borrowers.

While everyone is concerned with mortgage rates remaining low, borrowers are facing tougher guidelines in order to receive a mortgage approval. The only thing borrowers can do is to keep up to date with the changes that are being made and make sure their own financial status is in order prior to completing a mortgage application.

FreeRateUpdate.com surveys more than two dozen wholesale and direct lenders' rate sheets to determine the most accurate mortgage rates available to well qualified consumers at a standard 0.7 to 1% point origination fee.

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