Mortgage products that haven’t been widely used since before the Great Recession are making a comeback. The volume of loans with alternate documentation has more than doubled in the last two years among loans included in mortgage-backed securities, according to a report from Fitch Ratings.
The alt-doc loans have performed well since the housing crisis, but Fitch analysts say they’re still concerned about the uptick. “Although alternative document residential mortgage loan products that were introduced in the U.S. after the financial crisis have performed better than our expectations, we maintain a cautious approach to these loans because of their limited history,” Fitch analysts noted in the report.
One such no-income, no-asset mortgage program called the Agency NINA was recently announced by the 360 Mortgage Group. It does not require borrowers to prove their income or assets to be approved for the loan. The loan program is available to investors, not owner-occupants.
These riskier loan products are appealing to borrowers who may be unable to qualify for a loan using traditional underwriting due to, for example, high personal debt-to-income ratios.
So far, the loans have been performing better in recent years due to the Ability-to-Repay rule and other protective measures that have taken affect since the housing crisis, Fitch notes. The Ability-to-Repay rule, “combined with increased third-party due diligence and improved alignment of interests with issuers, have all contributed to better than expected performance,” Fitch notes in its report. But when the housing market cycle turns, the industry will need to be prepared. The agency concludes: “Fitch will likely need to observe continued strong performance over a longer horizon before making any significant changes in its approach to the programs.”