Not many buyers have assumed a mortgage in the past 25 years. Most people think it was because FHA and VA in the late 80’s began to require that buyers qualify for the assumptions. Not having to qualify for a mortgage would certainly benefit certain buyers.
If a homeowner must qualify for an assumption like a new loan, they'll generally choose the mortgage with the lower interest rate. Over the past 25 years, rates have been trending down but it appears that rates have bottomed out and will gradually increase. As they continue to rise, the lower rates on the FHA and VA loans created in the last few years will appeal to buyers even if they do have to qualify for the assumption.
There are significant advantages to assuming one of these government insured mortgages if the current interest rate on a new loan is higher:
1. Mortgage is further into amortization schedule
2. Lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher interest rate loans
3. Lower closing costs than a new mortgage
4. Easier to qualify than on a new mortgage
5. No appraisal required
FHA assumptions are only allowed as owner-occupied residents. The borrower must meet current FHA guidelines for borrowers. The total debt ratio including house payment to be assumed cannot exceed 41% of borrowers’ monthly gross income.
VA loans are also assumable with buyer qualification. However, in order for the veteran Seller to have their eligibility reinstated, the buyer must also be a veteran with eligibility.
A 1% difference in the current rates and a lower assumable mortgage rate begins to make it very attractive to assume a mortgage. When the differential becomes even greater, assumptions will become more prevalent than they’ve been in over twenty years.