BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A home for sale on Newton Avenue in downtown Riverhead.
The saying among local realtors goes something like this: Prior to the housing crisis in 2008, “anyone with a pulse could get a mortgage,” says Erica McKenzie of Andrew Stype Realty in Mattituck.
But the federal government and banks have tightened mortgage regulations in an effort to avoid another financial meltdown, leaving some prospective homeowners without enough cash to make the transaction.
Since 2008, banks have largely cut back on “no income verification” loans, which do not require buyers to prove their incomes and were wildly popular in the early 2000s. Many buyers were unable to repay these loans, contributing to the housing crisis.
Before 2008, said longtime Southold mortgage consultant Richard Winters, “we never hesitated to do that kind of application. Now, they’re almost impossible to get.”
The dwindling availability of such loans has primarily hurt the self-employed and those who don’t report their total income to the Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Winters said.
“There are lenders out there who will do anything — but you’ll pay dearly for it,” he said.
Ms. McKenzie said home seekers who can’t secure a no income verification loan could instead go to private investors — but those investors require more money down and impose higher interest rates.
“Borrow from your parents,” she said.
Ms. McKenzie said appraisers, people who give opinions on the value of a property, have also become much stricter in recent years.
She recalled some customers last year who were applying for a Federal Housing Administration loan, a popular option among first-time home buyers. The FHA appraiser required Ms. McKenzie’s customers to make a variety of improvements to the house, including stripping and repainting exterior walls that had chipping paint and replacing locust posts with metal lally columns.
The improvements cost many thousands of dollars, Ms. McKenzie said — and almost cost her the deal.
“There were many times I thought this deal was going to fall apart,” she said.
It was the first time Ms. McKenzie had run into such stringent appraiser requirements, but she soon learned from colleagues that the stricter guidelines had become increasingly common since the housing crisis.
“Banks are putting a lot of pressure on the appraisers,” said Chad Vanderslice of Mortgage Master in Westhampton Beach. “They’re asking them to make comments on things that certainly weren’t in place before 2008.”
“Appraisers are pulling their hair out,” he added.
Another recent mortgage regulation has hurt homeowners who want to rent their existing houses and claim that income when they apply for a loan for a new house.
Danny Pasani, who works at Contour Mortgage in East Meadow and has customers on the North Fork, said shortly after 2008, banks began to require that a rental situation have existed for at least two years in order to claim that income on loan applications.
“Now, those people don’t have that additional income to use toward qualifying for the house,” he said. “It’s a lot more strict than it used to be.”