How Fannie Mae News Expands the Reach of Buyers

Potential home buyers and the sellers whose properties already appear in the listings recently got a piece of good news. For them—as well as those deciding whether to wait for next spring’s traditional busy season—the announcement came from mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae. It’s bound to increase the number of consumers who qualify for the low mortgage interest rates that bring monthly payments within reach of house-hunters. And the change that’s coming won’t be delayed until next year—it’s almost here already.

Fannie is the quasi-governmental behemoth that backs up mortgage lenders. For many consumers whose borrowing histories were insufficient, the previous guidelines made it difficult to gain approval at attractive rates—or sometimes, at all. This was extremely frustrating for current renters who have long paid high rents in full and on time, often in amounts that would be comparable to today’s mortgage payments. They could see listings that feature homes they really could afford, but since landlords aren’t automatically part of the credit reporting system, their creditworthiness was not demonstrable.

That situation is about to be alleviated: Fannie is going to make it easier for lenders to factor in rent payment histories. Beginning in three weeks, Fannie will allow home loan applicants to give permission for their bank account information to be shared. That will allow rent payments to be factored into credit decisions. The effect for potential buyers and their future home sellers is to expand the number of qualified buyers. It won’t actually lower the bar for credit approvals, but it will make the process more reflective of a buyer’s true reliability—and their ability to finance a purchase.