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Are banks easing up on mortgage standards?

March 6, 2013

NEW YORK – March 6, 2013 – A very tight mortgage lending environment “promises improvements this year as the drivers of tough credit standards reverse,” according to Moody’s Analytics ResiLandscape Report. Still, lending will remain tight by historical standards, the report notes.

Tight underwriting conditions have been one of the main obstacles to a housing market recovery. But the credit agency says that those conditions began to ease somewhat this year and likely will continue to do so.

“Rising house prices give lenders more breathing room to extend credit,” the analysts at Moody’s noted.

Over the past year and a half, large lenders have loosened up or, at least, held standards stable on prime loans for mortgage originations, according to the Survey of Senior Lending Officers.

Aiding lenders’ confidence is that mortgage delinquencies have fallen to pre-recession rates.

“Being right-side up on the mortgage improves a borrower’s credit profile. It also lowers the risk of default and increases the likelihood of trade-up buying,” according to Moody’s report.

Mortgage supply will remain constrained, but “improved consumer credit quality combined with steady growth in jobs, low mortgage interest rates and modestly rising house prices makes it clear that more households will be able to qualify for a mortgage,” Moody’s said. “Greater credit availability will, in turn, help drive stronger home sales and stronger price appreciation.”

Source: “Slight opening of credit spigot aids housing outlook,” HousingWire (March 4, 2013)

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