Although mortgage rates are near record lows, borrowing standards have been raised, making it harder for many consumers to buy a home. Meanwhile, the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown has left buyers saddled with debt they are still struggling to pay.
According to Lebda, that leads lenders to avoid certain types of loans. He explained that the manner in which loans are securitized makes it difficult to assign responsibility if they go bad.
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“When a loan gets originated, a broker, or lender originates it, sells it to a bank, turns around and gets insurance from Fannie or Freddie and then it gets securitized. When that goes bad and the borrower defaults everybody looks for the person to blame.”
Lebda said if there’s a defect found in the underwriting process, the loan is pushed back on the original lender who must bear the losses. This cumbersome process can be a drag on a borrower's willingness and ability to take out a loan.
Uncertainty surrounding new regulations also makes banks more reluctant to lend, Lebda said.
The Lending Tree CEO also said a lack of personnel is slowing down the application process, which may be preventing interest rates from falling at an even quicker pace than they already are.
“You would have rates quarter points lower, $50 a month on an average mortgage, if you had lenders hiring and expanding,” Lebda stated.
Although applications are up, Lebda said homeownership is actually at record lows percentage-wise, with cash-strapped consumers migrating to rentals and foreclosures still high. It's at about 65 percent compared with above 70 percent during the housing boom, he said.
With consumers unable to get a mortgage, "a lot of housing being bought now is being bought by corporations, by people sort of bulk buying up foreclosed properties,” which is not traditional mortgage demand, Lebda said.
By: Justin Menza
Taken from: http://www.cnbc.com/id/49504394