From the NY Times:
AS homeowners across the country have dealt with the declining values of their houses and their ballooning mortgage payments, most New Yorkers seem to believe that the market here doesn’t play by the same rules.
But in recent weeks, a growing number of New Yorkers, often with six-figure salaries and reasonably good credit, have begun to find that mortgages are harder to get as lenders try to stem losses from loans to the weakest, or subprime, borrowers.
While mortgage brokers insist that most buyers in New York can still close deals, they also warn that people with any red flags on their mortgage applications will face delays and will pay higher fees. Potential problems include low credit scores or high credit-card balances or listing a suspiciously high salary for a given job.
“You’re going to pay the piper for any little mistake,” said Melissa Cohn, the president of Manhattan Mortgage Inc. She said her brokers — who last year arranged more than $3 billion in mortgages, mainly in New York City — were spending twice as much time on each application as they did a month ago because of new lending requirements, and she expects the situation only to get worse.
“The impact is going to be much greater as banks demand that people have clean credit to get the best mortgages,” she said.
“About three weeks ago, I would have gotten this done by snapping my fingers,” said Mr. Eisenberg, who is the executive vice president of the EFI Capital Corporation, a mortgage brokerage based in Garden City, N.Y. “Now it’s a very lengthy and time-consuming process where every bit of paperwork has to be done to the T. The guidelines are literally changing every hour.”
Until recently, many New Yorkers found it fairly easy to get mortgages. Then banks that made loans to subprime borrowers started running into trouble when the borrowers found it impossible to pay their mortgages and fell into foreclosure. As a result, banks have cut back on all types of loans.
“Lenders are going to scrutinize borrowers more carefully” in the next six to nine months, said Doug Duncan, the chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington. He added, “The pendulum is probably going to swing too far in the other direction before it settles.”