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KIRO Radio's Tom Kelly digs deep into the Puget Sound real estate market

Real Estate

More potential buyers delay purchase, fear mortgage rejection

Fifty-six percent of all potential homebuyers - those who want to buy a home within the next 24 months - say they're waiting to purchase because they fear being rejected by lenders.

What's more, 30 percent of current homeowners say they don't think they could qualify for another loan, according to a national consumer survey of more than 1,000 Americans by the firm OmniTel.

The survey also found that 74 percent of potential buyers who need a mortgage say they have not taken the steps to qualify or investigated the mortgage process yet. The survey showed that many potential buyers believe they need nearly perfect credit scores to qualify for a mortgage today.

Eighteen percent say they believe borrowers need a minimum FICO score of 770 or higher to qualify. Also, about a third of potential buyers say they believe their debt-to-income ratios are too high to qualify.

But these fears may be overblown. Ellie Mae, which provides a loan origination and tracking software for the mortgage industry, says that 33 percent of all new loans in March had borrower FICO scores below 700.

The percentage has been growing. A year ago the number was 27 percent. The Federal Housing Administration insured loans with average FICO scores of 684 in March. For conventional mortgages, the average remains higher at 755, but is down from 759 a year ago.

Debt-to-income ratios aren't as strict as most potential buyers believe either. FHA's average ratio in March for purchase loans was 28 percent; Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-backed loans averaged 22 percent, according to Ellie Mae data.

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