What FHFA’s New Loan-Level Pricing Adjustments Mean for Your Mortgage Rate

May 9, 2023 - 6 min read

Loan-Level Pricing Adjustments (LLPA)

As of May 1, 2023, a new schedule of mortgage fees went into effect. These fees are being applied to conventional mortgage loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Loan-level price adjustments (LLPAs) will consider a variety of factors. These include the loan-to-value (LTV), credit score, debt-to-income, occupancy, and loan purpose.

The news has had mixed reviews. Many are asking whether mortgage borrowers with higher credit scores are being penalized? Read on to better understand how the new mortgage fee changes will impact homebuyers.

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Why Is the Mortgage Fee Structure Changing?

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) hasn’t done much with its basic schedule of upfront fees for years. According to Sandra Thompson, Director of FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “have remained undercapitalized and maintain a taxpayer backstop should they confront significant losses.”

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The agency has been balancing a need to shore up the finances of Fannie and Freddie alongside the desires and needs of mortgage borrowers.

The new mortgage fee structure is meant to help people who’ve historically struggled to purchase their first homes. Lower credit score homebuyers will benefit from the new fee structure by reducing their closing costs.

What Is a Loan-Level Pricing Adjustment?

Loan-level pricing adjustments were introduced in 2008. This was after countless government-backed mortgages defaulted in what would become the largest housing crisis of our era.

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This caused mortgage superpowers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to realize that they needed a way to cushion themselves moving forward. After recognizing that their original stance left both agencies overexposed to risk and under-capitalized, they made a decision to charge higher fees.

The goal was to keep their mortgage rates reasonable for less risky mortgage borrowers. They also wanted to keep the ability to charge higher fees to those who presented a greater risk. Loan-level pricing adjustments were initiated as a way for lenders to raise the price of conventional home loans based on the risk associated with each mortgage borrower.

Loan-level pricing adjustments allow mortgage prices to be altered by evaluating the different risk factors of would-be homebuyers and basing their interest rates on the assumed risk. This allows high-risk mortgage borrowers to be charged accordingly without penalizing the safer borrowers.

Is the 2023 Loan-Level Pricing Adjustment Change Fair?

Some have suggested that the decline in fees for homebuyers who put down smaller down payments translates to the FHFA overcharging those borrowers who pose less risk to Fannie and Freddie. However, this disregards the role of mortgage insurance, which every mortgage borrower must pay unless they put 20 percent down.

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Mortgage insurance transfers some of the risk from Fannie and Freddie to private mortgage insurers. It allows the GSEs to charge lower loan-level price adjustments. When you combine the mortgage insurance fee with the total charges a mortgage borrower pays for their mortgage, the cost to the homebuyer aligns with the risk.

Other experts, including the National Association of Realtors, have condemned the new fee overhaul. They argue that the new fee structure hurts some buyers at a time when housing affordability is already doing so.

Many believe the 2023 rules are unfair due to how they penalize homebuyers with higher credit scores. However, the changes are complicated and don’t uniformly raise LLPAs for people with high credit scores.

Some people with good credit scores will see no change, while a few types of mortgage borrowers with high scores could see a slight improvement. For example, homebuyers with credit scores above 780 who make a 5% down payment will actually see their LLPA reduce by .625%.

In a statement, Sandra Thompson said the fee change is being misinterpreted and that the new payment structure is part of an overhaul that started in 2021 partly as a way to “maintain support for purchase borrowers limited by income or wealth.”

She goes on to say, “Higher-credit-score borrowers are not being charged more so that lower-credit-score borrowers can pay less. The updated fees, as was true of the prior fees, generally increase as credit scores decrease for any given level of down payment.”

The Bottom Line on LLPAs

Based on your credit score and down payment, the fees for securing a conventional loan have gotten more or less substantial. In the end, there isn’t much that homebuyers can do about the new fees, and Fannie and Freddie loans remain the best deal for most.

As a homebuyer, you’re still rewarded by having higher credit scores and making larger down payments.

Loan-Level Pricing Adjustment FAQ

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Are homebuyers with higher credit scores paying more?

Experts say no, because mortgage borrowers with higher scores still pay less than those without them. But, the fees have been cut for many types of homebuyers with lower credit scores and raised for those with higher scores. This results in the spread between the two types of borrowers now being more narrow.

I have a 640 credit score. How much will the new fees impact me?

It depends on the amount of your down payment. If you have a score between 640-659 and make a 20% down payment, you will now pay a fee that’s .75 percent less than prior to May 1, 2023. On a $400,000 loan amount, that’s a savings of $3,000.

Should I not worry about my credit score anymore?

No. Mortgage borrowers with higher scores will always receive lower rates and pay fewer fees than people with lower scores. Higher credit scores also mean better rates and fees for other types of loans, such as autos or credit cards.

Do the new fees apply to all types of mortgages?

No. The changes affect those with conventional loans, which are traditionally geared toward mortgage borrowers with great credit. The fee schedule doesn’t affect borrowers taking loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Are more fee changes coming?

According to the FHFA, another fee change is expected on August 1, 2023. Mortgage borrowers with a debt ratio above 40% and a loan-to-value ratio of over 60% may be imposed additional fees.

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Craig Berry
Authored By: Craig Berry
The Mortgage Reports contributor
With over 20 years in mortgage banking, Craig Berry has helped thousands achieve their homeownership goals.
Aleksandra Kadzielawski
Reviewed By: Aleksandra Kadzielawski
The Mortgage Reports Editor
Aleksandra is the Senior Editor at The Mortgage Reports, where she brings 10 years of experience in mortgage and real estate to help consumers discover the right path to homeownership. Aleksandra received a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University. She is also a licensed real estate agent and a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).