Getting approved for a mortgage loan used to be as easy as fogging up a mirror. Of course we all know what that led to but what real estate investors appreciate is how many distressed properties were made available to buy, fix and flip or hold. Yetmortgage rules tightening beginning around 2009, lenders did a complete 180 and it seemed nearly impossible to qualify for a mortgage loan.

At the same time, the lenders that remained standing were bombarded with new lending requirements and compliance issues that loan applications that should have been approved weren’t, simply from the fear of a lender doing something wrong during the loan approval process. Harmless mistakes caused lenders to buy back mortgage loans they had already sold.

And the guidelines really haven’t gotten any easier. Yes, fewer loan applications are being turned down compared to the same time a year ago but that’s as likely to be the result of banks fully understanding new compliance and disclosure laws. After the first of the year, new, more stringent lending guidelines will be in place and leave less room for lender discretion. These new rules define a “qualified mortgage”, or QM. A QM loan provides both consumer protection and lender protection from lawsuits resulting from borrower disputes.

One of the reasons for the strong rental housing demand across the country is due to the fact that those who might have been able to qualify for a home loan a few years ago no longer can and it doesn’t appear the road will be any smoother any time soon.

Yet for real estate investors, greater demand for rental housing means higher rents. And don’t expect mortgage qualifying rules to get any easier which is good news for the investor who wants to add more property to their portfolio. Long term rates are still low and qualifying to finance a rental property is really no different than three or four years ago. These are some pretty good times for the real estate investor.