Are lending standards really starting to loosen up this spring, as some mortgage industry experts suggest? Or are the underwriting and appraisal nightmares that began in 2008 still haunting home buyers and interfering unfairly with real estate transactions? When I talk to Realtors, what I hear is what we've all observed for years: Mortgage underwriting, FICO scores, debt-to-income ratios, loan-level pricing add-ons -- the whole home loan process -- are way too strict. Even with rising home prices, creditworthy buyers are still being turned down by banks on technicalities far too often, and that's having a negative impact on purchases, especially by first-timers. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke agrees. At a press conference in Washington last Wednesday, he said: "Our sense is...
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