Certain energy retrofit lending programs, often referred to as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, are made by localities to finance residential energy-related improvements and are generally repaid through the homeowner’s real estate tax bill. These loans typically have automatic first lien priority over previously recorded mortgages. The terms of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Uniform Security Instruments prohibit loans that have senior lien status to a mortgage.
Fannie Mae will not purchase mortgage loans secured by properties with an outstanding PACE loan unless the terms of the PACE loan program do not provide for lien priority over first mortgage liens. Lenders must monitor state and local law to determine which jurisdictions offer PACE loans that may provide for lien priority.
If the PACE loan is structured as a subordinate lien or unsecured loan, the first mortgage loan may be underwritten to Fannie Mae’s standard guidelines.
However, for PACE loans originated prior to July 6, 2010, Fannie Mae waives the uniform security instrument prohibition against a PACE loan with lien priority if the corresponding mortgage loan was purchased before July 6, 2010 or is in an MBS pool with an issue date on or before July 1, 2010.
The following requirements apply to borrowers with loans that are owned or securitized by Fannie Mae who seek to refinance and who obtained a PACE loan prior to July 6, 2010:
Paying off the PACE loan: The lender must first attempt to qualify the borrower for either a cash-out or limited cash-out refinance option, with the PACE loan being paid off as part of the refinance. To mitigate the risk posed by PACE obligations that take lien priority over the mortgage, Fannie Mae requires that borrowers with sufficient equity pay off the existing PACE obligation as a condition to obtaining a new mortgage loan. The prohibition against using the proceeds of a limited cash-out refinance to pay off a loan not used to purchase the property will not apply.
Loan casefiles underwritten in DU as a limited cash-out refinance may receive an Ineligible recommendation when it appears the borrower is receiving more than 2%/$2,000 cash back due to the payoff of a PACE loan. The lender may deliver the loan with the Ineligible recommendation and retain the DU limited waiver of underwriting representations and warranties provided that the mortgage loan meets the requirements of this Guide, including (but not limited to) A2-2.1-04, Limited Waiver and Enforcement Relief of Representations and Warranties for Mortgages Submitted to DU
Retaining the PACE loan: If the borrower is unable to qualify for a cash-out or limited cash-out refinance with sufficient proceeds to pay off the PACE loan, the lender may underwrite the loan as a limited cash-out refinance, DU Refi Plus, or Refi Plus loan, as applicable, with the PACE loan remaining in place. In these cases, it will not be necessary to include the PACE loan in the calculation of the CLTV ratio, though it must be included in the monthly housing expense (PITIA) and debt-to-income calculation.
For those eligible limited cash-out refinances where the PACE loan remains in place, the loans must be delivered with SFC 173.
The table below provides references to the Announcements that have been issued that are related to this topic.