What do lower credit ratings for Fannie, Freddie mean for you?

August 9, 2011 4:30:41 PM PDT
On Monday, the S&P downgraded the credit rating for two of the biggest mortgage backers in the country -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So what does all this mean for those of you looking to buy or sell a home?

The feds announced on Tuesday that it would not raise interest rates until 2013. So mortgage rates should stay at current levels, but there are still many unknowns when it comes to the housing market.

Home price trends are headed the wrong way for sellers. According to a pair of price indexes, it will take at least two years before median home prices bounce back.

"We have a housing glut; we have more houses and a backlog of inventory that the lenders are not willing to release," Realtor Mike Weaster said.

Weaster has seen tough times come to the industry. He says it's too early to tell if the downgrade to mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will make things worse.

"Everybody is concerned, everybody in the industry is concerned, not just with the real estate brokerages but the mortgage companies we talk to," he said.

Weaster says he has seen deals for homes fall through because buyers cannot get qualified, that means sellers have to keep waiting.

In the mortgage industry, times have been tough as well.

"People do call and say 'Hey, is Zeus Mortgage is still doing mortgages?'," said Steven Kaufman with Zeus Mortgage.

Kaufman says he is still qualifying buyers and does not believe the downgrade to Fannie and Freddie will have a huge impact on those looking for a home loan.

"Fannie and Freddie can continue for a long time on the path that they are," Kaufman said.

He believes borrowing requirements will loosen, which means it may become easier for qualified buyers to finally get a loan.

"When the market as a whole market is struggling or in trouble, the mortgage market actually responds by -- I don't want to say loosening the guidelines -- but definitely not tightening them up," Kaufman said.

So when it comes to selling a house in the Houston area, what can you expect? We checked with the Houston Association of Realtors for the track record for home sales, and the trend was great until about December 2007; that's when things started slowing down, to the low point December of 2009 when around 5,000 homes were sold, and since then things have been hovering around that mark.

Experts say do not look for big changes to this trend.

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