2012 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers: Lending Standards

by Reno Manuele


Many analysts, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke among them, have criticized banks for excessive lending standards, and NAR’s 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers speaks to that fact.

By Peter Ricci

Now that the real estate markets have begun a slow, steady recovery, it’s become commonplace for analysts to debate what factors are holding back housing from the rollicking, surging recovery we all dream about. From negative equity to a dwindling housing inventory, numerous topics are brought, but few are as persistent as that of tight lending standards, a topic that receives a hefty boost in credibility from the National Association of Realtor’s 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – Tight Home Lending in 2012

We’ll start with the most explicit data – of the many homebuyers that NAR surveyed, 40 percent reported that the mortgage application and approval process was more difficult than they had anticipated, with it being somewhat more difficult for 23 percent and much more difficult for 17 percent.

Perhaps as a result of those standards, NAR found some interesting complementary stats, including:

  • Savings were still the most used resource for down payments, with 76 percent of buyers utilizing their savings.
  • After that, though, 24 percent used a gift from a friend/relative, 6 percent used a loan from a relative/friend, and 17 percent used either a 401(k) fund or stocks/bonds.
  • Unsurprisingly, 93 percent of entry-level buyers opted for a fixed-rate mortgage, but 46 percent of first-time buyers financed their purchase with an FHA mortgage, while 10 percent used a VA loan.
  • And finally, piggy-packing off some of our earlier reporting, tight lending standards were also visible in the demographics of 2012’s homebuyers. Sixty-five percent of homebuyers were married couples, which is the highest share for that demographic since 2001, while 16 percent were single women, the lowest share for that group since 2001.

It should be mentioned, though, that lending standards are not universally strict. Eve Bremen, the branch manager for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s Winnetka office, said that lending has actually improved in the North Shore.

“Lending has eased a bit, in part because the appraisal situation has improved,” she said.

Home sales, Bremen continued, have picked up in the North Shore, and as a result, appraisers have more current comps to use when valuing properties, which has given banks more confidence in granting mortgages.

But what does lending look like in your neck of the woods? Let us know in the comments section!

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