New loan rules to promote 20 percent down payment

Borrowers may soon need to put more money down up front.A number of media reports have said that new mortgage regulations, which are expected to be officially proposed soon by government regulators, may result in additional fees for borrowers who don't put 20 percent down.

The new regulations will lay out what constitutes a "qualified residential mortgage" – or QRM – for mortgage lenders. The financial reform bill last year said that banks need to keep 5 percent of the risk from non-qualifying loans before selling them to investors, forcing them to keep some "skin in the game" and not leave investors with bad mortgages.

Borrowers who don't meet the final QRM guidelines will likely have to pay higher interest rates or fees for a loan, or go through the Federal Housing Administration.

According to published reports, the regulations will require borrowers to make a 20 percent down payment on mortgages. However, half of that 20 percent is allowed to be a gift, and loans that are eventually purchased by government-run mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be exempt.

If the rules go into effect, it may make more sense for people to try to save up before buying Houston homes. A 20 percent down payment on a median-priced local home last month would have been more than $27,000.

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