Mortgage rates fuel buyer’s remorse, create opportunities for loan assumptions

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – The current housing market is a mixed bag. From home prices to inventory, potential buyers and sellers are wondering where they stand, and mortgage rates are fueling a lot of uncertainty.

“Mortgage rates aren’t expected to dip below 5% again until about 2025,” said Erika Giovanetti, loan expert for U.S. News & World Report.

This month, the outlet surveyed 1,200 Americans who recently bought homes.

“We really wanted to take the pulse on how people who’ve bought a house in the past year feel about their purchase and specifically about their mortgage rate,” Giovanetti said.

The survey found that more than half of recent buyers regret taking out a mortgage when rates were high, and 78% said they were at least “somewhat stressed.” Interest rates will remain high for the rest of the year, and 84% plan on refinancing to a lower interest rate in the future.

“That promise of, ‘Oh, you’ll be able to refinance down the line.’ While it’s true, it might just take a little longer than some people initially thought,” Giovanetti said.

Conditions in the housing market have buyers and sellers using under-the-radar benefits to avoid higher interest rates, including mortgage assumptions.

“It’s one of the benefits of [Veterans Affairs] loans that hasn’t been talked about in recent years, in large part because we’ve been in this era of historically low interest rates,” said Chris Birk, vice president of mortgage insight for Veterans United Home Loans.

“In this market right now, you can take over a VA homeowner’s mortgage and that includes their interest rate,” he said.

According to data from Ginnie Mae, nearly 9 in 10 VA homeowners have a mortgage rate below 5%. Birk says buyers and sellers must take these elements into consideration when entering into a mortgage assumption.

For buyers

A person assuming a VA loan isn’t required to be a veteran, however, they must meet credit and income requirements imposed by the lender.

“You’ve got to find a way to pay out that home seller’s equity,” Birk said. “Now that’s not something every buyer can do, but if you do have the cash or otherwise the ability to get that financing, it is absolutely a huge opportunity that allows you to take on a mortgage with the kind of interest rate you cannot find in today’s market.”

For sellers

Loan assumption could also pose challenges for VA homeowners.

“Unless the person who’s taking over your loan is another veteran, who’s effectively substituting their benefit for yours, you’re putting the future use of your VA home loan benefit at risk,” Birk said.

Whatever position you’re in, contemplating the conditions and consequences will help you best navigate what can be a confusing landscape.

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