Where Does The Money Come From For Mortgage Loans?

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In the olden days, when someone wanted a home loan they walked downtown to the neighborhood bank or savings & loan. If the bank had extra funds lying around and considered you a good credit risk, they would lend you the money from their own funds.

It doesn’t generally work like that anymore. Most of the money for home loans comes from three major institutions:

  • Fannie Mae (FNMA - Federal National Mortgage Association)
  • Freddie Mac (FHLMC - Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation)
  • Ginnie Mae (GNMA - Government National Mortgage Association)

This is how it works:

You talk to practically any lender and apply for a loan. They do all the processing and verifications and finally, you own the house with a home loan and regular mortgage payments. You might be making payments to the company who originated your loan, or your loan might have been transferred to another institution. The institution where you mail your payments is called the servicer, but most likely they do not own your loan. They are simply servicing your loan for the institution that does own it.

What happens behind the scenes is that your loan got packaged into a pool with a lot of other loans and sold off to one of the three institutions listed above. The servicer of your loan gets a monthly fee from the investor for servicing your loan. This fee is usually only 3/8ths of a percent or so, but the amount adds up. There are companies that service over a billion dollars of home loans and it is a tidy income.

At the same time, whichever institution packaged your loan into the pool for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Ginnie Mae, has received additional funds with which to make more loans to other borrowers. This is the cycle that allows institutions to lend you money.

What Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, and Fannie Mae may do after they purchase the pools is break them down into smaller increments of $1,000 or so, called mortgage-backed securities. They sell these mortgage-backed securities to individuals or institutions on Wall Street. If you have a 401K or mutual fund, you may even own some. Perhaps you have heard of Ginnie Mae bonds? Those are securities backed by the mortgages on FHA and VA loans.

These bonds are not ownership in your loan specifically, but a piece of ownership in the entire pool of loans, of which your loan is only one among many. By selling the bonds, Ginnie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae obtain new funds to buy new pools so lenders can get more money to lend to new borrowers.

And that is how the cycle works.

So when you make your payment, the servicer gets to keep their tiny part and the majority is passed on to the investor. Then the investor passes on the majority of it to the individual or institutional investor in the mortgage backed securities.

From time to time your loan may be transferred from the company where you have been making your payment to another company. They aren’t selling your loan again, just the right to service your loan.

There are exceptions.

Loans above $333,700 do not conform to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines, which is why they are called non-conforming loans, or “jumbo” loans. These loans are packaged into different pools and sold to different investors, not Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. Then they are securitized and for the most part, sold as mortgage backed securities as well.

This buying and selling of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities is called mortgage banking, and it is the backbone of the mortgage business.

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Testimonials about Leah

Hiring Leah to be our realtor was the best decision we made when we sold our home in Oakland. We moved to Illinois for my work, and our relocation company required us to interview multiple realtors, all from the Oakland/Berkeley area. Leah was the first agent we interviewed, and while we completed our interviews with the other realtors, we knew right away that Leah was going to be our favorite. When Leah arrived at our house, she was full of enthusiasm and friendliness. She started off by making very positive comments about our location, the view, and her overall first impressions. Her opinions on how our location compared to different neighborhoods in the area meshed with our thinking exactly. Then she had us walk through the house, where she paid attention to every inch of every floor and walls and fixtures, asking lots of questions and taking notes and photos. After giving her the tour we sat down and Leah told us she thought our house could sell for just over 700K, and showed us the comps and discussed the trends that supported her position. She explained why certain lower comps were not applicable based on her research of those sales, and why buyers who had been in the hunt for a while (it's a seller's market in Oakland) would understand why our home had more value. She explained that she didn't think we needed to do any major repairs or upgrades, as they wouldn't increase the price of our home nearly as much as the investment we would have to put in. We left very impressed and excited (we had purchased the house a few years before for a much lower price and had expected it needed a lot of repairs). The other realtors we interviewed over the following week didn't show as much interest in our house, paid minimal attention to the details, and suggested that a lot of work was needed if we were going to get over 600k for the house. They used the comps that Leah had discounted, and scoffed at the idea that houses in the next neighborhood over would be comparable to ours. We agonized over the decision for a while. We liked Leah, we knew she would give 100% to sell our house, but what if it really wasn't worth as much as she thought? We reviewed the sales plans of each realtor, and in the end we came to the conclusion that we trusted Leah over the others, and even if she was wrong on the starting price, she would present out house in the best possible light because she understood it's value. But our fears were unfounded, Leah turned out to be completely right and worked harder than we had hoped to prove our trust was well-placed. Leah held 5 open houses and a realtor tour in 3 weeks before opening up for offers. She had a handyman make minor touches (fence repair, painting our mailbox) and paid for those repairs herself. She coordinated the cleaning, the carpet washing, the staging (she met with multiple stagers before choosing the one she felt fit our house right). While we focused on our new life in Chicago, she was back in Oakland meeting with 4 appraisers, 2 home inspectors, a termite inspector, a mold inspector, and coming to the house dozens of times to interview contractors for bids for termite work and mold remediation, and to inspect their work for thoroughness afterwards. She advised on us which contractors seemed the most professional, who was overcharging us, and made herself available whenever we scheduled a new one out for a competitive quote. When our buyer tried to get a discount after the first appraisal, she proved herself a shrewd negotiator and was able to work with the buyer's agent to avoid a significant price reduction. When our company-appointed relocation agent was slowing down the process, Leah set her straight so we could keep the deal moving. We sold our house for $705k. The other agents we had interviewed told us we'd need to do a lot of upgrades to even sell between 600 and 650, but Leah insisted our house was worth at least 700. We believed she was right. And she was right. I know the other agents would not have gotten us such a high price, and would not have showcased our best features like Leah did. Overall, I would definitely recommend Leah for anyone looking to sell their home. She puts your needs first, and will work tirelessly and enthusiastically to make sure you are happy. We used a relocation company who referred Leah (and the other realtors) to us but Leah made it clear that she worked for us, not for them. When the relocation company dragged out the process, Leah was positive, helpful, and remained enthusiastic, and we knew she had us covered. I really cannot express enough the gratitude my wife and I feel towards Leah, who took care of us so well and gave so much of her time and her own resources so that we would have the best experience and get highest sales price possible. Hire Leah. Justin R.
Thank you for lowering your fees to get our offer accepted. Thank you for paying for the home inspection and termite inspection to get it done quickly. Thank you for understanding that my deposit should not be put at risk if I don't feel comfortable. Every time I called with lender complaints you where there for me and got on the phone and straightened it out for me. You explained documents when lenders could not help me understand. You were the best buffer I have experienced. I trust you like family. I will use you again when it's time to buy or sell. Thank you so much. A.Wouldo, Buyer
Lady, you are amazing. Sold my house and pushed for more than what those agents wanted to give. Helped me clean and organize. Dropped stuff off for me and pushed those vendors to do what they said they would. It was fun and I love my new house you helped me by way out of your service area so I did not have to look for another agent. You knew what I wanted and we got it done. Your family now and forever. W. Terry Seller/Buyer
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