Mortgage lenders continue gradual easing

Mortgage lenders continue to gradually ease underwriting standards and reduce the time needed to close a loan, but debt-to-income requirements have hardly budged, according to the latest Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report.

At 42 days, the average time to close a purchase loan was down from 47 days a year ago. Purchase loans also made up 57 percent of closed mortgages, up from 53 percent in January and 32 percent a year ago.

One in 3 closed mortgage loans in February had an average FICO score of less than 700, compared with 24 percent of loans at the same time a year ago. The average FICO score on all closed loans was 724, down from 745 a year ago.

Buyers purchasing a home with an FHA-insured loan had an average FICO score of 686, down from 699 a year ago. Average FICO scores on conventional purchase loans were considerably higher — 755, down from 761 in February, 2013.

At 28 percent, the average front-end debt-to-income (DTI) ratio on FHA purchase loans was unchanged from a year ago. At 23 percent, the average front-end DTI on conventional purchase loans was even more conservative, up only slightly from the 2013 average of 22 percent. Source: