Compensating Factors On Manual Underwriting Mortgage Loans

This BLOG On Compensating Factors On Manual Underwriting Mortgage Loans Was UPDATED And PUBLISHED On November 1st, 2020

Compensating factors are favorable circumstances that help mortgage loan borrowers who have marginal credit and those who cannot get an approve/eligible per automated underwriting system:

  • Borrowers who get a refer/eligible per Automated Underwriting System can be eligible for a manual underwrite
  • However, borrowers who need a manual underwrite with higher debt to income ratios need compensating factors
  • Compensating Factors On Manual Underwriting  is required for higher debt to income ratio borrowers
  • Only FHA and VA loans allow for manual underwriting
  • Borrowers who barely met the bare minimum mortgage qualification requirements set by both HUD and/or VA can benefit greatly if they have compensating factors

In this article, we will discuss and cover Compensating Factors On Manual Underwriting Mortgage Loans.

Manual Versus Automated Underwriting System Approval

What is the difference between validating a manual and an automated risk assessment system?

Borrowers who barely met the mortgage lender’s minimum mortgage requirements or have higher debt to income ratios should have Compensating Factors On Manual Underwriting

  • For example, the minimum credit scores to qualify for a 3.5% down payment FHA Loans is 580 FICO
  • The maximum debt to income ratio is 46.9% front end and 56.9% back to get an automated approval on Automated Underwriting System
  • However, on Manual Underwriting, most lenders will cap debt to income ratios at 43%
  • Debt To Income Ratios can go up to 50% DTI on manual underwriting with 2 compensating factors

If borrowers refer/eligible per AUS barely meet credit and DTI requirements, compensating factors on manual underwriting will most likely be necessary. Refer/eligible AUS findings mean the file is not approved by AUS and needs to be downgraded to a manual underwrite.

What Are Compensating Factors On Manual Underwriting ?

Examples of compensating factors are the following:

All manual underwriting require one months of reserves. One month’s of reserves is one month of the borrower’s monthly housing payment: P.I.T.I.

The following are examples of compensating factors on manual underwriting files:

  • Three months reserves is considered compensating factors
  • Verification of rent with low payment shock of no more than 5% payment shock or $100 increase whichever is less
  • Borrower has part-time income and/or other income for at least one year but not used as qualifying income
  • Working spouse who is not on the mortgage loan but has qualified income and assets
  • Larger down payment on a home purchase is considered compensating factors
  • Having two full time jobs but only using one full time job for qualifying on the home mortgage
  • Having many years in the same job and/or industry with a pattern of getting promoted and receiving regular wage increases
  • Having a pattern and history of saving money over time is considered a compensating factor

Having multiple compensating factors will be viewed favorably by mortgage underwriters. There is a lot of room for underwriter discretion on manual underwrites.

Letters Of Explanations To Mortgage Underwriters

What are some examples of offsetting factors for manual placements

Letters of Explanations to mortgage underwriters are required on all of the following:

  • Derogatory Credit
  • Bankruptcy and housing events
  • Credit Inquiries
  • Late Payments
  • Collections and Charge Offs
  • Judgments and Tax Liens
  • Gaps in Employment

A good letter of explanation detailing borrowers compensating factor attached with the mortgage application will make the mortgage application much stronger. It will give more confidence for the mortgage loan underwriter in issuing a mortgage loan approval. Loan Officers will go over with borrowers on what to state on letters of explanations. Letter of explanations with supporting documents and/or paperwork shows strength and credibility. Make the letter of explanation short, concise, legible, easy to understand, and legible. Remember a strong letter of explanation goes a long way on manual underwrites. Mortgage underwriters have a lot of discretion on manual underwrites. 

Examples Of Compensating Factors On Manual Underwriting

Most lenders will require verification of rent on all manual underwriting files. However, Gustan Cho Associates will exempt verification of rent if the borrower has been living rent free with family in order to save money for the down payment and/or closing costs of the home purchase. In order for verification of rent to be valid, the renter needs to provide either 12 months of canceled checks and/or 12 months of bank statements. Timely payments in the past 12 months is required. A verification of rent form provided by the lender needs to be completed, signed, and dated by the landlord.

24 months verification of rent will be a stronger compensating factor with low payment shock:

  • Rental payment that is close to the new mortgage payment will be considered a compensating factor
  • This is called having low payment shock
  • This is because there will be little to no payment shock
  • The borrower makes a larger down payment than the bare minimum required is considered a compensating factor
  • This is a strong compensating factor because it proves to the mortgage underwriter that borrower has more skin in the game
  • The mortgage lender has less risk due to the stronger down payment
  • More equity investment from borrower means less risk for the lender and a stronger borrower
  • The borrower has strong assets and reserves
  • The borrower rebuilt and reestablished credit with several creditors with no late payments after a bankruptcy and/or foreclosure or period of prior bad credit
  • Maxed out credit cards or too much credit with high balances are not viewed favorably and can lower your credit scores
  • Maxed out credit cards and multiple recent credit inquiries will scare away lenders 
  • This is because it shows financial irresponsibility as well as the borrower living beyond his or her means

The longer the borrower’s credit history from his or her credit report shows the overall character on their payment patterns of the borrower. Aged on time payment credit tradelines are viewed favorably by lenders.

Ability To Repay Mortgage

What are the compensatory factors in manual mortgages

The borrower has part time income or overtime income that has not yet been seasoned for two years so it cannot be used for income qualification but shows that the borrower has extra income:

  • This is considered compensating factors for the borrower
  • The mortgage loan underwriter will take this into consideration
  • There is only a minimal increase in the borrower’s housing expense so there is no payment shock
  • The borrower will not go from paying zero rent to a mortgage payment of $2,000
  • The borrower has cash reserves for at least three months of housing payments and has other assets
  • This is a huge compensating factor that is viewed extremely favorably by mortgage underwriters
  • Borrower has non taxable income whether from social security and/or pension income that has not been grossed up by 15% during income qualification
  • Borrower has advanced training in his field such as advanced degrees and/or specialized training that indicates the likelihood of borrower being marketable in his or her field
  • Shows a promotion or income advancement likely in the very near future
  • For example, a police officer with a law degree versus a police officer with a high school diploma
  • The law degree will be considered a compensating factor
  • This is due to the likelihood that he or she will have a greater chance of employment and/or advancement

This is due to their advanced education in the event if he or she were terminated or injured on the job.

Are Compensating Factors On Manual Underwriting Mortgage Loans

Gustan Cho Associates is a national mortgage company licensed in multiple states with no overlays on government and conventional loans. A substantial percentage of our business are manual underwriting.

The team at Gustan Cho Associates has a five star national reputation for not having any lender overlays on government and conventional loans:

  • Overlays are mortgage guidelines that are above and beyond those of the federal minimum requirements imposed by FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac
  • What this means is that as long as borrowers get an approve/eligible per DU Findings via Fannie Mae Automated Underwriting System, they are pretty much guaranteed a mortgage loan approval as long as borrowers can satisfy AUS Conditions
  • Compensating Factors on AUS Approvals are not required
  • Compensating factors security blankets for lenders and offsets risk

Many Banks and Lenders may require compensating factors on approve/eligible borrowers as part of their overlays.

Home Buyers who cannot get an approve/eligible per Automated Underwriting System on VA and FHA Loans and need to qualify for mortgage with a five-star national mortgage company licensed in multiple states with no lender overlays on VA and/or FHA Loans can contact us at Gustan Cho Associates at 262-716-8151 or text us for a faster response. Or email us at gcho@gustancho.com. Gustan Cho Associates is one of the largest lenders of originating FHA and VA Loans during and after Chapter 13 Bankruptcy with manual underwriting. We proud ourselves in being available to our borrowers 7 days a week including late evenings. All calls and/or email correspondences are returned no later than 15 minutes at the very latest.

1 Comment
  1. Carol Allen

    On your blog about updated 2021 HUD Agency Guidelines, it states that FHA Guidelines On Under 620 Credit Scores mortgage borrowers still remain the same with regards to debt to income ratios and compensating factors. I would love for one of your experts to review my credit and tell me what needs to be done for me to qualify to purchase a home.

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