October 20, 2015

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

House Financial Services Subcommittee Chair Introduces Housing Assistance Reform Bill  

House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) introduced the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act of 2015, H.R. 3700. The bill incorporates several previously proposed policy changes to improve HUD assistance programs that enjoy bipartisan support and are relatively noncontroversial. In his press release announcing the bill, Luetkemeyer states that “these reforms will help to put our nation’s housing programs on a path to maximize effectiveness and deliver more opportunity for both people in need and the organizations that serve them.” H.R. 3700 includes several provisions from the Section Eight Voucher Reform Act of 2011 (SEVRA), H.R. 1209, and a House Financial Services Committee discussion draft of the Affordable Housing and Self-Sufficiency Improvement Act of 2012 (AHSSIA). Notable items from these bills simplifying the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program included in H.R. 3700 are an increase in the maximum contract term for project-based vouchers from 15 to 20 years and streamlined physical inspection and income determination rules. H.R. 3700 also contains provisions to permanently authorize USDA’s Multifamily Housing Revitalization Program and delegate guaranteed rural housing loan approval authority to preferred lenders that meet standards to be set by USDA.

New rules for lenders seem to be raising costs for mortgage customers

Since the nationwide changeover in mortgage and settlement procedures took effect, lenders and brokers say just about everything is taking longer, and the costs to home buyers are moving up.
It has been barely two weeks since the nationwide changeover in mortgage and settlement procedures took effect, but early results are trickling in: Lenders and brokers say just about everything is taking longer, and the costs to home buyers are moving up.   On Oct. 3, under a directive from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, lenders, title insurers and settlement agents were required to comply with a new, nearly 1,900-page rule book designed to improve transparency and accuracy in real estate and mortgage transactions for home buyers and refinancers. The regulations impose potentially heavy penalties on lenders that get their cost estimates wrong or fail to deliver accurate disclosures to consumers on prescribed timelines at application and closing.

Moody's Report Indicates HFAs Will Continue to Experience Strong Financial Performance  

Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) recently-released HFA financial medians report concludes that HFA financial profiles demonstrated solid improvement in FY 2014. The report predicts that national wage growth and lower unemployment, which have caused an increase in household formations, will enable HFAs to retain their strong financial positions in the future. The report also notes that if and when the Federal Reserve increases interest rates, HFA financial portfolios should receive an additional boost as HFA products become more attractive than conventional loans and HFA investments generate increased earnings.

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