Selling Guide

Published July 25, 2017

B3-6-02: Debt-to-Income Ratios (07/25/2017)

This topic contains information on the use of the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, including:

For additional information, see B3-1-01, Comprehensive Risk Assessment .

DTI Ratios

The DTI ratio consists of two components:

  • total monthly obligations, which includes the qualifying payment for the subject mortgage loan and other long-term and significant short-term monthly debts (see Calculating Total Monthly Obligation below); and

  • total monthly income of all borrowers, to the extent the income is used to qualify for the mortgage (see Chapter B3–3, Income Assessment).

Maximum DTI Ratios

For manually underwritten loans, Fannie Mae’s maximum total DTI ratio is 36% of the borrower’s stable monthly income. The maximum can be exceeded up to 45% if the borrower meets the credit score and reserve requirements reflected in the Eligibility Matrix.

For loan casefiles underwritten through DU, the maximum allowable DTI ratio is 50%. If the DTI on a loan casefile exceeds 50%, the loan casefile will receive an Ineligible recommendation.

Exceptions to the Maximum DTI Ratio

Fannie Mae makes exceptions to the maximum allowable DTI ratios for particular mortgage transactions, including:

Calculating Total Monthly Obligation

The total monthly obligation is the sum of the following:

  • the monthly housing expense of the borrower's principal residence (or the qualifying payment amount if the subject mortgage loan is secured by the borrower's principal residence (see B3-6-03, Monthly Housing Expense));

  • the qualifying payment amount if the subject mortgage loan is secured by a second home or investment property (see B3-6-04, Qualifying Payment Requirements);

  • monthly payments on installment debts and other mortgage debts that extend beyond ten months;

  • monthly payments on installment debts and other mortgage debts that extend ten months or less if the payments significantly affect the borrower’s ability to meet credit obligations;

  • monthly payments on revolving debts;

  • monthly payments on lease agreements, regardless of the expiration date of the lease;

  • monthly alimony, child support, or maintenance payments that extend beyond ten months (alimony (but not child support or maintenance) may instead be deducted from income, see B3-6-05, Monthly Debt Obligations;

  • monthly payments for other recurring monthly obligations; and

  • any net loss from a rental property.

Note: Fannie Mae acknowledges that lenders may sometimes apply a more conservative approach when qualifying borrowers. This is acceptable as long as Fannie Mae’s minimum requirements are met, and lenders consistently apply the same approach to similar loans. For example, a lender might calculate a higher minimum payment on a credit card account than what Fannie Mae requires, which is acceptable as long as the lender consistently applies this calculation to all mortgage applications with revolving debts.

DTI Ratio Tolerance and Re-Underwriting Criteria

Fannie Mae expects lenders to have in place processes to facilitate borrower disclosure of changes in financial circumstances throughout the origination process and prefunding quality control processes to increase the likelihood of discovering material undisclosed debts or reduced income. See D1-2-01, Lender Prefunding Quality Control Review Process.

As a result of the lender's normal processes and controls, the lender may need to re-underwrite the loan after initial underwriting. If the borrower discloses or the lender discovers additional debt(s) or reduced income after the underwriting decision was made up to and concurrent with loan closing, the loan must be re-underwritten if the new information causes the DTI ratio to increase by 3 or more percentage points up to the maximum allowed.

In all cases, if the lender determines that there is new subordinate financing on the subject property during the loan process, the mortgage loan must be re-underwritten.

Note: Re-underwriting means that loan casefiles must be resubmitted to DU with updated information; and for manually underwritten loans, a comprehensive risk and eligibility assessment must be performed.

Applying the Re-underwriting Criteria

The following steps are required if the borrower discloses or the lender discovers additional debt(s) or reduced income after the underwriting decision was made up to and concurrent with loan closing:

Step Description
1 The lender must document the additional debt(s) and reduced income in accordance with B3-6-01, General Information on Liabilities or B3-3, Income Assessment, as applicable.

Note: The lender is not required to obtain a new credit report to verify the additional debt(s). However, if the lender chooses to obtain a new credit report after the initial underwriting decision was made, the loan must be re-underwritten.

2 If there is new subordinate debt on the subject property, the mortgage loan must be re-underwritten.
3 The lender must recalculate the DTI ratio. For DU loan casefiles, the DTI ratio should be recalculated outside of DU.
4 For loans other than Refi Plus or DU Refi Plus
  • If the recalculated DTI ratio exceeds 45% for a manually underwritten loan or 50% for a DU loan casefile, the loan is not eligible for delivery to Fannie Mae.

  • If the recalculated DTI does not exceed 45% for a manually underwritten loan or 50% for a DU loan casefile, but is increasing by 3 or more percentage points, the following applies:

    • Manually underwritten loans: The mortgage loan must be re-underwritten with the updated information to determine if the loan is still eligible for delivery. Note: If the increase in the DTI ratio moves the DTI ratio above the 36% threshold, the loan must meet the credit score and reserve requirements in the Eligibility Matrix that apply to DTI ratios greater than 36% up to 45%.

    • DU loan casefiles: The online loan application must be updated with the new information and the loan casefile must be re-underwritten through DU.

For Refi Plus or DU Refi Plus Loans
  • Refi Plus loans: For loans with payment increases > 20%, if the recalculated DTI ratio exceeds 45% the loan is not eligible for delivery to Fannie Mae. If the DTI does not exceed 45%, but is increasing by 3 or more percentage points, the loan must be re-underwritten with the updated information to determine if the loan is still eligible for delivery. For loans with payment increases less than 20%, none of the requirements in this table are applicable since lenders are not required to calculate the borrower's DTI ratio to determine eligibility.

  • DU Refi Plus loan casefiles: If the recalculated DTI ratio increases by 3 or more percentage points, the online loan application must be updated with the new information and the loan casefile must be re-underwritten through DU. DU offers flexibilities in the maximum allowable DTI ratios for DU Refi Plus loan casefiles.

5 The final loan application signed by the borrower must include all income and debts verified, disclosed, or identified during the mortgage process.
6 Upon delivery to Fannie Mae, the lender must deliver the qualifying monthly income and expense amounts that are on the final loan application. See C1-2-02, Loan Data and Documentation Delivery Requirements.

For additional information about DU resubmission tolerances, see B3-2-10, Accuracy of DU Data, DU Tolerances, and Errors in the Credit Report.

Related Announcements

The table below provides references to the Announcements and Release Notes that have been issued that are related to this topic.

Announcements and Release Notes Issue Date
Announcement SEL-2017-06 July 25, 2017
Announcement SEL-2016–07 August 30, 2016
Announcement SEL-2015–10 September 29, 2015
Announcement SEL-2015–06 May 26, 2015
Announcement SEL-2015–01 January 27, 2015
Announcement SEL-2012–10 October 2, 2012
Announcement SEL-2012–07 August 21, 2012
DU Version 9.0 July 24, 2012
Announcement SEL-2011–13 December 20, 2011
Announcement SEL-2011–12 November 15, 2011
Announcement SEL-2010–13 September 20, 2010
DU Version 8.2 September 20, 2010
DU Version 8.0 September 22, 2009
Announcement 08-35 December 18, 2008