December 29, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

NeighborWorks America invites qualified community development nonprofits to apply for a share of $26.5 million in grants to revitalize distressed communities hurt by the foreclosure crisis

(RECAP: The application period closes 8 p.m., ET on Jan. 9. Grantee awards are expected to be announced in April 2017. More information about this program and the informational webinar can be found at Project Reinvest: Neighborhoods.)

HUD Launches New Community Investment Tool

(RECAP: HUD today unveiled the Community Assessment Reporting Tool (CART) – an innovative reference and mapping tool created to help answer the question, “How is HUD investing in my community?” CART uses geospatial technology to show the wide variety of HUD investments by city, state, county, metropolitan area, or congressional district. It also provides an interactive mapping interface that allows users to explore HUD investments within their community and see property- and grant-level detail at a variety of geographies.)

Evolving U.S. Suburbs Continue to Shape Residential Demand and Development

(RECAP: U.S. suburban housing markets are well positioned to remain preferred places to live and work over the coming decades, even as many urban cores and downtown neighborhoods continue to attract new residents and businesses, says a new report from the ULI Terwilliger Center. The report classifies and compares suburbs in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.—shown in a searchable online map—and assesses the key issues that will shape suburban residential demand and development in the years ahead.)

Family Options Study: 3-Year Impacts of Housing and Services Interventions for Homeless Families

(RECAP: The goal of HUD’s Family Options Study was to understand which housing and services interventions work best for families with children experiencing homelessness, and to learn whether or not certain types of families benefit more or less from different interventions. Extensive cost data on each of the interventions studied was also collected, in order to calculate the fiscal costs of achieving the outcomes that were documented.)

Rise of the glass giants: how modern cities are forcing skyscrapers to evolve

(RECAP: The future cannot be found in a small number of freakishly tall designs. Rather, it is in the vast number of efficient, versatile skyscrapers, which will be essential to cope with growing urban populations and keep cities running. These exceptional new towers include a variety of eco-friendly innovations, such as renewable energy generation, solar shading and double-skin facades with natural ventilation.)

December 28, 2016

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

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HUD Announces New Housing Counseling Certification Requirements

Effort designed to improve and standardize professional standards for those who counsel consumers
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it will require that housing counselors participating in HUD programs to be certified to offer counseling services to consumers. In order to become certified, housing counselors must pass a standardized written examination and work for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency (HCA). Counselors must demonstrate competency in each of the following areas of housing counseling: (1) financial management; (2) property maintenance; (3) responsibilities of homeownership and tenancy; (4) fair housing laws and requirements; (5) housing affordability; and (6) avoidance of, and responses to, rental and mortgage delinquency and avoidance of eviction and mortgage default. Though announced recently, HUD's final rule will take full effect three years following the release of the certification examination. To help counselors prepare for the exam, the Department is offering intensive training and study resources (in English and Spanish) to its counseling stakeholders. HUD is providing a wealth of resources to individuals seeking HUD certification including a practice test that will be available shortly and the actual certification test is expected to be published in the Spring of 2017.

Caregivers for the Disabled in Virginia May Face Cuts

An effort to bring state-funded services to thousands more disabled people could jeopardize funding for those who are already receiving support, advocates for the disabled say. Virginia health officials have been trying to cut into an 11,000-person wait list for services paid for with Medicaid vouchers, part of a broader effort to comply with the terms of a 2012 federal court settlement that, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, requires the state to find a way to allow more people with disabilities to live and work in community environments rather than institutional settings. Faced with an increasing demand for services, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has started to use an assessment of individual patients’ needs known as the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) to help determine funding levels. The assessments have led to a reduction in state reimbursement rates by as much as half in some cases, prompting concern from family members and advocates about the quality of care people with disabilities will receive when the new rates take effect in January.

Affordability Falls to Lowest Level in Eight Years

A consumer's ability to afford to purchase a home during the fourth quarter was at its lowest level in eight years due to rapid price appreciation, moderate wage growth and the post-election increase in interest rates, said Attom Data Solutions. Nationally, the affordability index in the fourth quarter was 103, down from 108 in the third quarter and down from 116 a year ago to the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008, when the national home affordability index was 102. And the trend is likely to get worse next year, said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom, in a press release.

December 21, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Bringing a Mixed-Use Strategy to Fading Industrial, Retail and Hotel Properties

(RECAP: They all offer cities a way to turn blighted areas into engines of revitalization and economic stimulus, and create profits for their owners and tenants as well. And, as they detailed, pulling off such ventures requires imagination, a deft mix of marketing acumen, and a close working relationship between public and private stakeholders.)

Cities Warned On Restricting Group Homes

(RECAP: In a 20-page question-and-answer document issued jointly this month, the U.S. Department of Justice and HUD are clarifying state and local government responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act when it comes to zoning and land use laws.)

Build a Better Burb: The Hub for Great Suburban Design  

(RECAP: While a wide range of tools exist to help create walkable, mixed use places, fewer tools and resources exist specifically for transforming suburban landscapes. Included here are a number of tools and resources that can help and inspire all stakeholders imagine, plan, design, and create new and reinvented suburban neighborhoods.)

The NeighborWorks Book

(RECAP: NeighborWorks Works is a collaboration book that will showcase this network's innovative solutions in affordable housing and community development. NeighborWorks believes this book will help policymakers, funders, media, potential partners and industry professionals examine trends, challenges and potential solutions in creating economic opportunity in all American communities.)

4 Reasons Nonprofits Should Pay Attention to Snapchat

(RECAP: Although it may still be perplexing to envision what sort of impact your nonprofit can have from being active on Snapchat, trends from this social network truly reflect the future of social sharing. Here are four ways nonprofits can take advantage of this trendy social app.)

December 20, 2016

VHDA’s Commitment to the HUD Housing Counseling Network— Past, Present and Future

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Since 1996, when VHDA sponsored the first national conference on counseling and loss mitigation for single-family loans, we’ve recognized the important role housing counseling plays in affordable housing. Today, 20 years later, our commitment to counseling continues through a variety of initiatives, including the HUD Housing Counseling grant program and eight VHDA-funded grant programs. A five-member team handles VHDA’s grant programs, which include the HUD Housing Counseling and Education grant. Each team member is assigned a portfolio of specific nonprofit organizations and local government partners. Team members provide individual assistance, often meeting one-on-one with organizations and partners to address concerns, troubleshoot and discuss improvements to services.

VHDA also has added a compliance officer to our staff to develop and maintain policy and procedures for all grant programs to make sure VHDA meets all HUD and OMB requirements. The officer also provides oversight for VHDA’s Grant Management Team, as well as for our external partners. This results in improved service delivery, streamlined processes when applicable, and the assurance that VHDA and our counseling network are following the necessary HUD policies.

In addition, VHDA also contracts with NeighborWorks® America to provide local training and certifications for our housing partners. VHDA hosts this place-based training to ensure the network is receiving training that meets the National Standards for Homeownership Counseling and Education. Knowing that HUD’s Final Rule regarding certification will be released soon, we plan to provide our counseling network with access to the resources and training they need in the coming new year.

Finally, VHDA recently implemented a new grant management system to simplify our housing counseling grant process from application to closeout. We continue to solicit feedback and look for improvements to manage our grant funds through this system.

For more information, contact

December 19, 2016

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

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FHFA Releases 2017 Scorecard for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Common Securitization Solutions  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released the 2017 Scorecard outlining specific conservatorship priorities for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and their joint venture, Common Securitization Solutions, LLC.  The 2017 Scorecard furthers the goals outlined in FHFA’s Strategic Plan for the Conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, published in May 2014.  These goals include:

  • Maintain, in a safe and sound manner, credit availability and foreclosure prevention activities for new and refinanced mortgages to foster liquid, efficient, competitive and resilient national housing finance markets; 
  • Reduce taxpayer risk through increasing the role of private capital in the mortgage market; and 
  • Build a new single-family securitization infrastructure for use by the Enterprises and adaptable for use by other participants in the secondary market in the future.

FHFA Releases Final Duty to Serve Rule for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac 

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its final "Duty to Serve" rule requiring the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to support lending for housing for low-income families in three underserved segments of the housing finance market: manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural areas. The rule fulfills a statutory mandate placed on the GSEs by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. FHFA also released a factsheet summarizing the rule. The rule will take effect January 2018.

December 13, 2016

Take a Free VHDA Homeownership Class in Northern Virginia

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Are you thinking about buying a home, but not sure where to start? Attend a free class to learn about the buying process and how to prepare for homeownership.
The course, developed by VHDA, teaches the key steps to homebuying. Industry experts – such as housing/credit counselors, real estate agents, lenders, home inspectors, and closing agents – volunteer their time and share their knowledge to make you a more informed buyer.
The class covers personal finances and credit, loan types, the loan process, working with a real estate agent, the home inspection, the closing process and more. To register, go to

Upcoming Free Classes (in English and Spanish): 

  • Jan. 7, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Housing & Community Services of Northern VA, 6231 Leesburg Pike, Suite 410, Falls Church. This class is taught in Spanish.

  • Jan. 14, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Jan. 21, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Fairfax South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Room B217, Alexandria. This class is taught in English. 
  • Jan. 21, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Jan. 28, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Feb. 4, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Housing & Community Services of Northern VA, 6231 Leesburg Pike, Suite 410, Falls Church. This class is taught in Spanish.

  • Feb. 4, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Feb. 11, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Feb. 18, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Fairfax South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Room B217, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Feb. 18, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Feb. 25, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • March 4, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Housing & Community Services of Northern VA, 6231 Leesburg Pike, Suite 410, Falls Church. This class is taught in Spanish.

  • March 18, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Fairfax South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Room B217, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

December 12, 2016

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

No comments:® 2017 National Housing Forecast 

The 2017 national real estate market is predicted to slow compared to the last two years, across the majority of economic indicators. Home prices are anticipated to increase 3.9 percent and existing home sales are forecasted to increase 1.9 percent to 5.46 million homes. Interest rates are expected to reach 4.5 percent due to higher expectations for inflationary pressure in the year ahead.® is forecasting the homeownership rate will stabilize at 63.5 percent after bottoming at 62.9 percent in 2016. New home sales are expected to grow 10 percent, while new home starts are expected to increase 3 percent. The forecast is based on GDP growth of 2.1 percent, a 2.5 percent increase in the consumer price index and unemployment declining to 4.7 percent by the end of the year.

Top Five Housing Trends in 2017

The housing market in 2016 was largely defined by two main trends: rising home prices nationwide and falling interest rates due to political events such as the Brexit vote and the U.S. presidential election. And while certain features of the housing market this year are expected to remain the same in 2017, such as the popularity of Western metropolitan areas, others are expected to change. From the rising influence of millennials to shifting trends in home prices and housing inventory, this article provides a look at the top housing market trends for 2017, according to Joe Kirchner, senior economist at

FHFA Announces Successful Implementation of Release 1 of the Common Securitization Platform  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Release 1 of the Common Securitization Platform (CSP) was successfully implemented on November 21. This means that Freddie Mac is now using the CSP for Data Acceptance, Issuance Support, and Bond Administration activities related to current single-class, fixed-rate, mortgage-backed securities. The implementation of Release 1 demonstrates that the system, operations, and controls of the CSP and Common Securitization Solutions (CSS), a joint venture owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), are functional.

NAHB Releases the 2016 “Priced Out” Estimates 

NAHB Economics recently released its 2016 “Priced Out” Estimates showing that, nationally, a $1,000 increase in the median new home price (triggered, for example, by additional regulation) will leave 152,903 households priced out of the market. This means that 152,903 U.S. households could qualify for a mortgage on the median-priced new home before, but not after, the price increases. The number of priced-out households varies across both state and metropolitan areas. The differences are largely driven by the size of the population and the affordability of new homes. Among all the states, California registers the largest priced out effect where a $1,000 new home price increase pushes 15,328 households out of the market, followed by Texas (13,674), and Pennsylvania (9,374).

2017 Mortgage Deduction: What Every Taxpayer Should Know

The tax laws encourage home ownership with a variety of tax breaks, and the largest involves deducting the interest that homeowners pay on mortgages. Right now, there aren't major legal changes on the books that will affect the mortgage deduction in 2017, but the recent results of the presidential election point to a broader shift that could have implications for some homeowners in the future.

A Snapshot of Today’s First-Time Homebuyer

The data is in for the newest profile of this year’s first-time homebuyer. MGIC pulled out seven handy facts and created a shareable infographic to describe top traits of the homebuyer group. Single-women increased their share in the market, hitting levels not seen since 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors’ annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey. While married couples make up the largest share of homebuyers at 66%, and had the highest income at $99,200, single women are increasing their role. Last year the share of single women fell to its lowest point since 2002’s 15%, but this year they seem to be making a comeback. Single women represented 17% of the market this year, the highest point since 2011.

December 9, 2016

Viridiant to Host Lecture: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Historic and Affordable Housing Preservation

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Dec. 15 @ 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. | $5

1221 E. Brookland Park Blvd., Richmond

Viridiant will host a site visit of the newly renovated Highland Park Senior Apartments in Richmond. Staff and partners from Grimm + Parker and the Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC) will discuss how this recently renovated 77-unit project utilized Housing Credits, as well as state and federal Historic Tax Credits, to bring new life to the old Highland Park Public School. They will discuss unique technical challenges presented when balancing green building, affordable housing and historic preservation goals.

Participation is $5.

December 7, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

The Art of Deal Negotiation

(RECAP: While negotiation is an important skill set for any professional, it’s critical for those in the affordable housing space when navigating transactions with developers, agencies and other organizations. On December 15, HAND will host a training titled “The Art of Deal Negotiation” featuring Charles Craver, Freda H. Aversion Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. For a complete outline of topics to be discussed, click here.)

Feds Seek Input On Expanding Community-Based Services

(RECAP: In a notice published in the Federal Register this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, known as CMS, said it is seeking suggestions about reforms and policy changes that the agency could pursue in order to grow availability of community-based services. CMS is accepting public comments through Jan. 9.)

Old buildings are made for you and me

(RECAP: The Atlas of ReUrbanism examines a wide range of cities and aligns the historic preservation movement more closely with that of urbanism. It makes the case that historic buildings are critical to supporting human activity in cities. Areas with older and smaller buildings with a wide age range have more density, diversity, small businesses and entrepreneurial activity. The also have more affordable housing.)

Paycheck To Paycheck 2016

(RECAP: School workers provide essential services to their communities, yet many are unable to afford to live near where they work. The 2016 edition of “Paycheck to Paycheck” focuses on the affordability challenges faced by both teachers and non-instructional school workers by highlighting five of the 81 occupations in the Paycheck to Paycheck database: bus driver, child care teacher, groundskeeper, social worker and high school teacher.)

A data-driven way to build resilience in cities

(RECAP: Building “resilience” in cities is a hot topic among city leaders. Yet even to many who agree with that goal, the concept of urban resilience remains vague and the act of creating more of it hard to measure. The City Resilience Index is a tool that breaks “resilience” down into recognizable parts — and gives local leaders a way to assess where their city stands.)

December 5, 2016

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

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Trump Picks Ben Carson to Head HUD 

President-elect Donald Trump's transition team announced this morning that he has selected Dr. Ben Carson to be his Administration's Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Carson is former Republican candidate for President and served as the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland from 1984 until his retirement in 2013. A Trump statement released today says, "Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities." It also says, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."

Trulia Report Finds Housing Credit Development has no Significant Impact on Surrounding Home Values  

Real Estate aggregator Trulia released a report titled, "There Doesn't Go the Neighborhood: Low-Income Housing Has No Impact on Nearby Home Values." The report studied the impact of new Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) developments on nearby home values between 1996 and 2006. The report compared the price per square foot of homes at two separate distances from new Housing Credit developments. Homes within 2,000 feet were considered close to the development for the purpose of the study, and were compared to homes between 2,000 and 4,000 feet from the development. The authors state that using linear distance as the studied factor is common in property value studies and reduces the idiosyncratic impact of neighborhoods.

The Impact of the 2016 Elections on GSE Reform

Recap and Release: Many of the president-elect’s advisors are strong opponents of the Treasury Department’s net worth-sweep, and include a plaintiff in ongoing litigation about the legality of the third amendment to the Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements. One might surmise that this should increase the new administration’s support for enabling the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to rebuild capital as a possible prelude to their eventual re-privatization. While eliminating the sweep could be done without an act of Congress, it would require approval by the new Treasury secretary and the current director of Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Mel Watt, whose term has two more years to run. Director Watt has suggested he wants to replenish the GSEs’ diminishing capital buffers, but there is no indication he supports recap and release as a reform strategy. Further muddying the waters is that we are only half-way through a congressionally-imposed two-year cooling off period that would make it very hard to execute recap and release.

FHA Announces Increased Single-Family Loan Limits for 2017 

Earlier today the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced the county loan limits for its single-family mortgage programs for 2017 and issued a Mortgagee Letter that increases the minimum loan limit for low-price areas and the maximum loan limit for high-cost areas. FHA currently sets the loan limit for most counties at 115 percent of the county's median home price. Mortgages that exceed the limit are not eligible for FHA insurance. In addition, FHA also establishes a "floor" for low-cost areas, which it defines as counties where the median home price is 65 percent or less of the Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) conforming loan limit. Similarly, FHA also establishes a maximum loan limit for high-cost areas, where the median home price reaches or exceeds 150 percent of the conforming loan limit.

HUD Publishes Small Area Fair Market Rent Final Rule 

HUD published in the Federal Register a final rule regarding the use of small area fair market rents (SAFMR) in certain metropolitan areas, and replacing HUD's existing 50th percentile fair market rent (FMR) policy for the Housing Choice Voucher (voucher) program. SAFMRs reflect rent standards in zip code areas while traditional FMRs reflect a single rent standard for an entire metropolitan region. According to HUD, 50th percentile FMRs—the current policy for addressing high voucher concentration – have been largely ineffective. HUD expects that SAFMRs will better address high levels of voucher concentration in certain communities and give voucher holders access to areas of high opportunity by providing a subsidy that is adequate to cover rents in those areas.

U.S. Will Ban Smoking in Public Housing Nationwide

Smoking will be prohibited in public housing residences nationwide under a federal rule. Officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that the rule would take effect early next year, but that public housing agencies would have a year and a half to put smoke-free policies in place. The rule will affect more than 1.2 million households, the officials said, although some 200,000 homes already come under smoking bans adopted voluntarily by hundreds of public housing agencies around the country.

December 2, 2016

Housing Credit Q.A.P. Workshops start Dec. 8, New Session Offered for How to Complete a LIHTC Application

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Housing Credit Q.A.P. Workshop

Our first Housing Credit Q.A.P. Workshop (formerly known as the How to Apply Workshop) will be held in Fairfax next Thursday, Dec. 8. This workshop will also be held in:

Richmond on Jan. 4, 2017 – with a simultaneous web broadcast available for viewing at VHDA’s Southwest Virginia Housing Center in Wytheville.

Norfolk on Jan. 5, 2017

Space is still available. Register now.

New ‘How to Complete a Virginia LIHTC Application’ Workshop

Due to popular demand, we’ve added a ‘How to Complete a Virginia LIHTC Application’ workshop to our calendar. This workshop will be held at the Virginia Housing Center in Glen Allen on Jan. 19, 2017.

With all the changes to the Q.A.P. and the application, we encourage your staff to attend this informative training session. If you haven’t registered and plan to attend any of our upcoming events, please click here for our registration calendar.

December 1, 2016

VHDA’s New Mortgage Loan: For First-Time AND Repeat Buyers

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VHDA has a new mortgage loan that may be a great option for first-time and repeat homebuyers. It’s called the VHDA Fannie Mae (FNMA) HFA Preferred with Reduced Mortgage Insurance (MI) and it comes with the following benefits:

  • Lowest conventional mortgage insurance payments.
  • Eligible for VHDA Down Payment Assistance grant (DPA) and Mortgage Credit Certificate (Homebuyer Tax Credit).
  • Flexible down payment sources – gifts, FNMA Community Seconds, and VHDA DPA grant funds.
  • No mortgage insurance required with down payments of 20% or more.

There is a 3% minimum down payment amount, so homebuyers will want to find out if they qualify for our Down Payment Assistance grant. There is also a minimum credit score of 660. Find out more about this loan. To talk to a VHDA-approved lender who can provide more information about this new loan option go to

November 30, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

FHLBank Atlanta’s AHP Competitive Round to Open in Early 2017

(RECAP: Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta  recently announced that its 2017 Affordable Housing Program Competitive round will open on January 3, 2017. Up to $500,000 will be awarded per project to its member financial institutions and their community housing partners through a competitive application process. The deadline for submitting applications is February 2, 2017.)

Five Approaches to Reviving Aging Mall Sites

(RECAP: Aging shopping malls—many burdened with high vacancy rates or even abandoned—are being transformed into vibrant, mixed-use destinations that are connected to their surrounding communities. By transitioning mall sites to a mix of uses, developers can help create consumer demand within the vibrant, modern micro-economies that will become the non-malls of the future.)

Baby Boomers Rapidly Becoming The New Hipsters Fueling Unprecedented Apartment Demand

(RECAP: The National Multifamily Housing Council’s research shows that aging boomers will represent a larger share of growth in the apartment market as millennials begin to marry, have children and buy homes. From affordable senior rentals to luxury living, the demand for age-qualified apartment homes is higher than ever. And with 10,000 people a day turning 65 through 2030 that demand will continue to grow.)

Land Banks & Community Land Trusts: Not Synonyms or Antonyms. Complements

(RECAP: Land banks and community land trusts (CLTs) are often perceived as “off mission” or antithetical tools that are not suited for the same environments. Conversely, they also tend be conflated as one and the same. Neither perception, however, reflects reality. In this blog post, Center for Community Progress and Grounded Solutions Network come together to help set the record straight and explore how land banks and community land trusts can coordinate to optimize equitable development outcomes.)

Affordable Housing Advisory Council at FHLBank Atlanta Seeks Maryland and Virginia Nominations

(RECAP: The Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta is soliciting nominations from North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia for individuals to serve on the Bank’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council. Nominations can be made by completing and returning the nomination form and application certification to FHLBank Atlanta by 5 p.m. Thursday, December 15, 2016.)

VHDA Managing Director of Rental Housing Art Bowen currently serves on the Bank’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council, which meets quarterly to advise the Bank’s board of directors on ways the Bank can better carry out its housing finance and community lending mission. 

November 28, 2016

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

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The Nation's Housing: Congress could play The Grinch this Christmas for homeowners

Could popular deductions for mortgage insurance premiums and energy-efficient home improvements abruptly vanish? That’s the way things are shaping up in the closing weeks of the post-election lame duck congressional session. Republicans controlling the tax-writing committees in the House and Senate say they have no plans to extend expiring tax code provisions such as mortgage debt forgiveness for financially troubled owners, mortgage insurance write-offs used by moderate-income first-time buyers, and deductions for purchases of energy-saving windows, insulation and other improvements. All three benefits terminate Dec. 31. Unlike previous years, when Congress extended them, this year is different. There is strong sentiment, especially in the House, that a comprehensive overhaul and simplification of the tax code should be the priority, rather than piecemeal, end-of-the-year extensions of special interest provisions that complicate that objective.

FHFA Announces Increase in Maximum Conforming Loan Limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2017  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2017 will increase.  In most of the country, the 2017 maximum loan limit for one-unit properties will be $424,100, an increase from $417,000.  This will be the first increase in the baseline loan limit since 2006.  In higher-cost areas, higher loan limits will be in effect. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) established the baseline loan limit of $417,000 and requires this limit to be adjusted each year to reflect the changes in the national average home price.  However, after a period of declining home prices, HERA also made clear that the baseline loan limit could not rise again until the average U.S. home price returned to its pre-decline level.  Until this year, the average U.S. home price remained below the level achieved in the third quarter of 2007 and thus the baseline loan limit had not been increased.

FDIC Releases Second Part of Affordable Mortgage Lending Guide 

Community bankers can learn more about grant and mortgage loan programs offered nationwide with the help of The Affordable Mortgage Lending Guide, Part II: State Housing Finance Agencies, recently published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). This publication is focused on first-lien mortgage products, downpayment and closing assistance, mortgage tax credit certificates, and homeownership education and counseling programs that can facilitate mortgage lending by insured depository institutions. It includes individual summaries of each state housing finance agency, complete with a listing of programs offered and web links for easy reference by bankers operating in that state or territory.

November 24, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Maggie Walker Community Land Trust Hopes to Preserve Affordable Homeownership in Richmond

(RECAP: Virginia now has two Community Land Trusts: the Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust, which serves the Greater Charlottesville MSA (City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson) and now the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust in the City of Richmond. The Maggie Walker CLT was created to help address the issue of tax delinquent properties in the City of Richmond by converting these properties into affordable homes for members of the community to purchase.)

What Planners Can Learn From Improv

(RECAP: Approaching things with an open mind, seeing opportunities rather than mistakes, and above all, maintaining a sense of humor are important lessons planners can learn from the world of improv.)

Apple Doubling Down On Accessibility

(RECAP: As tech-giant Apple rolls out its newest products, the company is placing a special emphasis on people with disabilities. Apple used the event to debut a new accessibility website highlighting various built-in options on the company’s devices and how people are applying these features in their lives.)

November 23, 2016

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

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FHA Report Says Health of Mortgage Fund Improving 

HUD released its 2016 Annual Report to Congress on the financial status of the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF). The report finds that the value of the MMIF, which funds FHA's single-family homeownership and reverse mortgage loans, grew by $3.8 billion to $27.6 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2016, its fourth consecutive annual increase. The MMIF's capital ratio is at 2.32 percent, up from 2.07 percent in FY 2015 and above the statutorily mandated capital ratio of 2 percent. The capital ratio fell below the 2 percent threshold in in FY2009, due mainly to losses related to the economic downturn, and did not climb back to the minimum ratio until FY 2015. In FYs 2012 and 2013, due to losses caused by the financial crisis, the MMIF ran a negative balance. In September 2013, HUD was forced to request funding from the U.S. Treasury to keep it actuarially solvent.

HUD Announces VAWA Final Rule 

HUD published in the Federal Register the final rule implementing housing provisions under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) as it applies to HUD programs. The rule codifies VAWA core protections across covered HUD programs to ensure individuals are not denied assistance, evicted, or have their assistance terminated because of their status as victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, or for being affiliated with a victim. The 2013 VAWA legislation and resulting final rule expands the number of HUD programs subject to VAWA protections. Previously, only residents of public housing and Section 8 tenant-based and project-based programs were covered by VAWA legislation as passed by Congress in 2005. The final rule extends VAWA protections to the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the National Housing Trust Fund, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Section 236 Rental Program, Section 811 Supportive Housing for People with Disabilities, Section 211(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, and McKinney-Vento homeless programs. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit and USDA Rural Housing properties are also subject to VAWA requirements per the 2013 reauthorization; however, Treasury and the Department of Agriculture have not yet issued regulations to implement VAWA protections under those programs.

HUD Releases New Fair Housing Guidance for RAD Program 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released PIH Notice 2016-17 (HA) to provide Public Housing Agencies (PHA), Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program Project Owners, and RAD development partners with guidance on fair housing and civil rights regulations applicable to RAD First Component Public Housing conversions. The new notice builds on prior guidance (PIH Notice 2012-32 (HA) REV-2) to further clarify when HUD will require front-end civil rights reviews and outlines which information must be submitted to HUD to facilitate reviews. The notice also covers key statutory requirements and regulation regarding tenant relocation under RAD.

November 18, 2016

Updates from the Rental Housing Division's Compliance & Asset Management Department

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News You Can Use

Want to stay informed on the latest information from VHDA's Rental Housing Division? Please sign up to receive our periodic updates that will address:

  • Changes to existing programs Changes to existing programs
  • New loan programs New loan programs
  • Modifications to processes and procedures Modifications to processes and procedures
  • Changes to loan underwriting practices and policies Changes to loan underwriting practices and policies 

Renter Income

The Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2017 is 0.3%. Use the new rate when projecting the income of applicants and residents. This affects people who receive Social Security, SSI, VA pension, Civil Service pension and Railroad Retirement.

Utility Allowance

Revised and clarified procedures and forms for Utility Allowance Estimates for Housing Credits (also known as LIHTC, or Low-Income Housing Tax Credits) are on VHDA's website. Please begin using them immediately.

Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (VAWA)

VAWA applies to:
HUD public housing, HUD Section 8 properties and Rural Development properties. Follow their specific instructions and use their required forms if your property is HUD or RD.
Housing Credits properties. Pending any guidance published by IRS, LIHTC properties may implement forms on VHDA's website. Until IRS guidance is received, use of the forms is optional and non-use will not result in filing of Form 8823.

Tenant Screening

Using criminal records as a screening tool for housing decisions may be a violation of fair housing law, if it creates a disparate impact for individuals who fall within a federal protected class. 

Please review and update your Tenant Selection Plan to use convictions rather than arrests. You should also take into consideration the nature and severity of the crime, as well as the timeframe within which it occurred (i.e., how much time has passed since the crime). Consult a fair housing attorney for more specific direction.

Additional Sources of Training

Mid-Atlantic Affordable Housing Management Association (AHMA) Training
If you have questions, please contact your assigned VHDA Compliance Officer for assistance.

November 16, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Lecture: Highland Park Senior Apartments: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Historic and Affordable Housing Preservation

(RECAP: On Dec. 15, 2016, learn how this recently renovated 77-unit project utilized Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) as well as state and federal Historic Tax Credits to bring new life to the old Highland Park Public School.)

Coming Soon: Policy Strategy Guide Around Housing and Schools

(RECAP: Since 2014, Housing Virginia has been a leader in the conversation surrounding the connection between housing and schools in Virginia. As a new phase of their policy research and work begins, Housing Virginia will soon release a strategy guide for localities that want to start a dialogue about the connection between housing and school policies in their own community.)

Post office alley could become a public plaza

(RECAP: Warrenton officials have begun to explore an idea for improving a blocked alley next to the Main Street post office. The vision includes a “plaza” with landscaping, lights and benches, along a walkway that would link the street to parking lots behind the red brick building, constructed in 1916.)

When Planners and Engineers Team Up, Everybody Wins

(RECAP: For complex projects, bringing a master plan to life demands more than just a bold conceptual vision. It also requires a firm grounding in the technical details of a site, an area where planners and engineers must work together to achieve success. Collaboration helps promote public buy-in by ensuring the master plan addresses environmental, public health, and traffic concerns.)

The First Principles of Urbanism: Part II

(RECAP: The future of cities depends on how quickly the public sector can integrate technology, not on how quickly entrepreneurs and firms can innovate. If we want cities to win the 21st century, it turns out urbanists had all better learn to speak technology— soon. But it also turns out that if technologists want to make cities better, rather than just different, they need to learn to speak urbanism as well.)

November 15, 2016

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

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Will Trump Tackle Housing Finance Reform?

Donald Trump's views on housing finance reform remain a complete mystery, raising questions about whether he will seek changes or defer to others in Congress. Housing was the talk of the campaign two presidential elections ago, but it stayed under the radar in the 2016 race, leaving plenty of room to speculate about President-elect Donald Trump's likely mortgage policy for the next four years. On the one hand, without a crisis, observers said there is little incentive for him to move quickly on the issue. But the unresolved question of what to do with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – both in conservatorship since before Barack Obama's election – will loom large over the future Trump administration. Exactly how Trump would address the issue is a complete mystery. The issue was never raised on the campaign trail.

What's in Store for Housing in 2017?

The National Association of Realtors answers, gives forecast for next year
For the majority of this year, the housing market could not get past low inventory levels, which were continuously cited as the main road block to a fully healthy housing market. Next year should be better, according to the newly release forecast from the National Association of Realtors, but it’s going to take time. During the residential housing and economic forecast session at the 2016 Realtors Conference & Expo, Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, and Dennis Lockhart, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, discussed the 2017 housing and economic forecast, along with the economic conditions that support the housing sector.

HUD Issues HOTMA Implementation Guidance  

HUD published in the Federal Register the initial implementation guidance for the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act (HOTMA). HOTMA, which President Obama signed into law in July, makes several modifications to housing assistance programs, including streamlining Housing Choice Voucher (voucher) program inspections, simplifying the requirements for project basing vouchers, and providing public housing agencies (PHAs) greater flexibility to transfer funding between their operating and capital funds. HUD's guidance clarifies which statutory provisions went into effect immediately upon the President signing HOTMA into law and which provisions will be phased in as HUD promulgates further regulations.

New Report Recommends Renters’ Tax Credit

Carol Galante — former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development — and her colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation last week released a new report, commissioned by the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families.  As Will Fischer discusses, it proposes three options for a tax credit to help renters struggling to make ends meet, an idea that has received growing support from policy experts and others.

HUD Flood Plan Provokes Battle Between Home Builders, Environmentalists

"If we're serious about protecting people and property from flooding, we have to think differently than we did 40 years ago," said HUD Secretary Julian Castro. The Department of Housing and Urban Development's proposed guidance for the construction of new homes located in flood plains is sparking a fight between homebuilders and environmentalists. The agency released a plan last week that would stipulate that newly constructed homes financed by the Federal Housing Administration would have to be elevated two feet above the 100 year-based flood level. That prompted an outcry from the National Association of Home Builders, which said the plan is inconsistent with the federal flood insurance program and most building codes.

Serious Delinquencies at Lowest Point in Nine Years: CoreLogic

The number of seriously delinquent mortgages declined 24.8% in September from one year prior, as the number of loans more than 90 days late is at its lowest since August 2007, according to CoreLogic. "This improvement is continued evidence of the recovery in the housing market, especially given that the decreases were fairly uniform in most cities across the country," said CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft.

November 11, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Next Steps for the Rural Housing Network

(RECAP: Housing Virginia has wrapped up the rural housing provider discussion forums around the state, carried out in partnership with local Realtors® Associations, and has begun work on a final report. This report, the preliminary findings of which will be released at the Governor's Housing Conference in November, tracks the changes in a range of data points to present the new picture of rural housing in Virginia.)

House calls: Finding shelter for local homeless vets

(RECAP: It’s been almost one year since Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia was the first state in the U.S. to functionally end homelessness among veterans—and while it may not seem that way when residents drive through Charlottesville and see people begging, evolving housing programs are having positive effects on the city and surrounding counties. Partnerships between Veterans Affairs medical centers, programs that support veterans families and local homeless organizations such as The Haven continue to piece together a complex, and often sensitive, puzzle.)

The Next Generation of Model Planning, U.S. Zoning Legislation

(RECAP: States and their local governments have practical tools to help combat urban sprawl, protect farmland, promote affordable housing, and encourage redevelopment. They appear in the American Planning Association's Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook: Model Statutes for Planning and the Management of Change. The Guidebook and its accompanying User Manual are the culmination of APA's seven-year Growing Smart project, an effort to draft the next generation of model planning and zoning legislation for the United States.)

U.S. incomes increasing, but school workers still struggle to afford housing

(RECAP: “Paycheck to Paycheck 2016: A Snapshot of Housing Affordability for School Workers” focuses on five school-related occupations: bus drivers, social workers, daycare teachers, groundskeepers and high school teachers. In many metropolitan areas across the country, the salaries of these workers don’t allow them to live in the communities that they serve.)

November 10, 2016

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

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FHFA Releases 2016 Housing Report 

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its Annual Housing Report for 2016. The report examines Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's affordable housing activities for 2015.
The bulk of the report focuses on Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's performance under their 2015-2017 Affordable Housing Goals. It finds that, while each firm met its affordable multifamily goals in 2015, they did not meet all of their single-family goals. Specifically, they did not meet the goal requiring that at least 24 percent of the single-family loans purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each year be made to low-income consumers (those making 80 percent or less of area median income, or AMI). According to FHFA, such loans accounted for 23.5 percent of Fannie Mae's loan purchases, and 22.3 percent of Freddie Mac's loan purchases.  Both firms also failed to meet the goal requiring that at least 6 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's single-family loan purchases be loans for very low-income consumers (those at 50 percent or less of AMI). The report states that such loans accounted for 5.6 percent of Fannie Mae's loan purchases and 5.4 percent of Freddie Mac's loan purchases.

Freddie Trying to Find the Balance in Credit-Risk Deals

"Credit risk transfer is an efficient and good thing to do on its own, if the income you give up is relatively small verses the reduction in risk," said Freddie CEO Don Layton.  Freddie Mac's credit risk transfers come with a hefty price tag, but are ultimately still worth it, according to Chief Executive Don Layton.  The government-sponsored enterprise has completely nearly $182 billion in credit risk transfers in which a portion of its credit risk is absorbed by a third-party company either before or after the mortgages are closed. The interest and premiums the GSE pays on the transfers effectively reduced Freddie's guarantee income by roughly 33% for the transactions executed through Sept. 30.  In an interview, Layton said that such a deal still makes economic sense for Freddie under certain conditions.

How Affordable is Housing in Your Congressional District?

In looking at housing affordability across the nation’s congressional districts, home values and rents tend to be higher along the coasts and in denser, urban communities, regardless which party represents a given community in Congress. The current set of congressional districts reflect the results of the 2010 Census, so the 115th Congress will be only the second group serving under current district boundaries. By hovering over a district in the maps below, you can view the representative and party currently holding the seat, along with relevant housing data.

Widespread Credit Blemishes May Well be Holding Back Our Economic Recovery

It is commonly understood that the seven million foreclosures that occurred between 2004 and 2015 fueled the Great Recession and have held back a robust economic recovery. But the role of adverse public records during that same period is just as significant yet rarely discussed.  Nearly 35 million consumers had adverse public records between 2004 and 2015, including bankruptcies, civil judgments, and federal tax liens. Combined with the seven million foreclosures, this means more than one in six Americans with a credit record suffered an adverse event during this period.  These extensive credit problems are partly responsible for consumers’ slow recovery from the financial crisis. The lingering effects of foreclosures and adverse public records prevent consumers from obtaining mortgages and pursuing homeownership, hinder housing market recovery, limit consumers’ ability to obtain other credit (e.g., auto loans), and reduce consumers’ ability and willingness to spend, all of which weakens the economic recovery.

A Guide to House Leadership, Committee, Caucus Elections

Races will place at least 17 members in new positions of power
The race for chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee will be between Texas Rep. Roger Williams and Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers. While much speculation over House leadership changes in the 115th Congress is focused on a contentious speaker’s election that may never materialize, a long series of intraparty leadership, committee and caucus races guarantee significant turnover in top House posts next year.  Retirements, term limits and lawmakers departing for other jobs mean that at least 17 prominent roles, and likely more, will change hands. Elections to determine those new influencers are set to begin during the lame-duck session that opens the week after Election Day.

November 8, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Coming Soon: Policy Strategy Guide Around Housing and Schools 

(RECAP: Since 2014, Housing Virginia has been the leader in the conversation surrounding the connection between housing and schools in Virginia. As a new phase of our policy research and work around this topic begins, we will soon release a strategy guide for localities that want to start a dialogue about the connection between housing and school policies in their own community.)

Why (and how) localities should say yes to housing

(RECAP: One reason affordable housing is scarce is that, in a typical market, an apartment complex with rents affordable to middle-income workers costs more to build than the developers can recoup through rents. Creating affordable housing for people with below-median income is even harder. Why is this so, and how can it be changed? A substantial part of the problem and solution is in local control.)

Blight-Fighting Tactic Found to Double Nearby Real Estate Values

(RECAP: The controversial “broken window theory” of policing dictates that you go after the small crimes, and the big ones will fall. Applied to blight, that school of thought means restoring abandoned houses on otherwise intact blocks as affordable units so the surrounding neighborhood gets better — and for less money than the more common approach of building or renovating homes on a larger scale.)

The 5 Must-Haves Of A Successful Mixed-Use Development Project

(RECAP: While the benefits of a successful mixed-use development project are obvious to the business owners and homeowners that occupy them, the recipe for success is not so clear-cut. In most cases, the outcome of a mixed-use development is determined on a combination of factors like the location and quality of tenants, and how each use — whether residential, commercial or industrial — compliments the others.)

November 3, 2016

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

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NCSHA Recommends Further Improvements to State Fair Housing Assessment Tool 

NCSHA submitted comments to HUD on the second iteration of the proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Assessment Tool for States and Insular Areas, which HUD released for a 30-day comment period in late September. HUD initially published the proposed state assessment tool in March for a 60-day comment period, then revised the tool based on the comments it received, including those NCSHA provided in May. NCSHA commended HUD for adopting many of the recommendations NCSHA made in our comments on the first iteration of the state assessment tool. These changes make the tool more responsive to state level implementation needs, clarify to some extent what is expected of states, and reduce some of the burden on state agencies. In particular, NCSHA applauded HUD for committing to work with us and HFAs as it develops the state AFFH data and mapping tool (AFFH-T), which state will need to use in conjunction with the assessment tool to develop their Assessments of Fair Housing (AFH), and for providing a separate comment period on the AFFH-T.

FHA Implements New Occupancy Requirements for Condo Loans 

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently released a Mortgage Letter (ML 2016-15) establishing new owner occupancy requirements that condominium projects must meet for mortgages on their single-family units to be eligible for FHA insurance. The new standards take effect immediately. Under its current guidelines, FHA insures single-family condominium loans for units in existing developments where at least 50 percent of the units are owner-occupied. The Mortgagee Letter announces that FHA will be retaining the 50 percent threshold for most existing developments, but that it will lower the owner-occupancy threshold to as low as 35 percent for developments that meet certain criteria designed to demonstrate good financial health. To be eligible for FHA approval under the lower threshold, a condominium development must hold reserves representing 20 percent of its total budget and no more than 10 percent of all units in the development may be more than 60 days past due on their association dues.

IRS Releases 2017 Inflation Adjustments for Housing Credits and Bonds

The IRS published Revenue Procedure 2016-55, which outlines the inflation adjustments for nearly 50 federal tax provisions, including the amount of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) authority and Private Activity Bond (PAB) authority each state will receive. For calendar year 2017, the state Housing Credit ceiling will be the greater of $2.35 multiplied by the state's population or $2,710,000. While the multiplier remained at the same level as in 2016, the minimum increased slightly from its 2016 level of $2,690,000. The state private activity bond cap for 2017 will be the greater of $100 multiplied by the state population or $305,315,000. This represents a $3,800,000 increase to the minimum from the 2016 level of $301,515,000.

Industry Experts Reveal Details of HAMP Replacement Program

Non-crisis program will increase accessibility to loan mods
The Home Affordable Modification Program will expire at the end of this year, and experts from the industry talked about its replacement: One Mod: Principles for Post-HAMP Loan Modification at the Mortgage Bankers Association annual conference. The MBA revealed its new program proposal at the end of September. While the Federal Housing Finance Agency already created a new program to replace the Home Affordable Refinance Program, nothing is in place to take over for HAMP.

Treasury: Here’s What Housing Reform Should Look Like

“Whether they are aware of it or not, some of the most momentous decisions American families make are shaped by how the housing finance system serves them,” said U.S. Department of the Treasury Counselor Antonio Weiss and Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy Karen Dynan in a recent commentary. But how is Treasury currently helping to shape the housing finance system to better serve consumers and promote homeownership? One way is through the allocation of $2 billion in the past year of additional funds for foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization through the Hardest Hit Fund. Treasury has also awarded grants through the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF) to promote $900 million in affordable homeownership and rental opportunities as well as worked to create broader loss mitigation standards for borrowers who face hardship and are unable to make their monthly mortgage payment as our Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) sunsets at the end of 2016.

October 28, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Next Steps for the Rural Housing Network

(RECAP: Housing Virginia has wrapped up the rural housing provider discussion forums around the state, carried out in partnership with local Realtors® associations, and has begun work on a final report to be released at the Governor’s Housing Conference in November. The report tracks the changes in a range of data points to present the new picture of rural housing in Virginia. It also includes an analysis of the needs and gaps identified by housing providers in each region.)

Overcoming NIMBY

(RECAP: The tools for overcoming NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) include transparent communication, dispelling myths with facts and finding community supporters who understand the benefits that quality housing can bring to their neighborhood. This portal gathers all of Housing Virginia’s Overcoming NIMBYism programs and materials for easy access.)

Revitalization without Displacement

(RECAP: Communities large and small are looking for ways to create prosperity for everyone. Smart Growth America’s Revitalization without Displacement Technical Assistance is designed to assist your community, poised for redevelopment, by identifying where public policy or programs could help to mitigate negative effects of neighborhood revitalization in anticipation of incoming change.)

Think Outside the Public Meeting

(RECAP: If you wait for people to come to you, you will have a meeting composed primarily of the most informed, vocal and angry individuals in the community. Give everyone a chance to participate. Try reaching your target community with surveys, flyers and activities at hidden-in-plain-sight community gathering spots like high school football games and farmers’ markets.)

Four Takeaways from the White House Housing Development Toolkit

(RECAP: While Constitutional limits on the federal government’s role in local land use policy mean that this toolkit is mostly advisory in nature, it does send a powerful message that there is much that local and state governments can do to achieve more equitable housing development.)

October 27, 2016

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

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Rep. Brady Plans to Move Tax Reform Legislation in 2017

The House’s top taxwriter wants to pursue tax reform legislation next year, according to the Ways and Means Committee’s Republican chief tax counsel. “The committee is now focused on the ongoing work of building tax reform legislation based” on the tax blueprint under the House GOP’s “Better Way” policy platform, said Barbara Angus, chief tax counsel for Rep. Kevin Brady. “The plan for Chairman Brady is to move tax reform legislation as early as 2017,” Angus said in a panel at the Tax Executives Institute conference in Philadelphia. The counsel’s announcement comes as the federal government marks the 30th anniversary of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, a major overhaul of the tax code by the Reagan administration and Congress. “Chairman Brady often says that tax reform is something that happens only once in a generation,” Angus said. “With 30 years gone by since ‘86 Act, the time has really come.”

HUD Proposes Energy Benchmarking Requirement for Multifamily Housing  

HUD issued a notice in the Federal Register October 4 requesting public comments on a proposed requirement for owners of HUD-funded multifamily housing to implement energy benchmarking in their properties, consistent with the President's Climate Action Plan and other Administration and HUD initiatives to improve energy efficiency in HUD-assisted properties. Utility benchmarking—the practice of tracking the utility consumption of a development on an on-going basis, calculating energy and water efficiency of the development, and comparing its efficiency to similar developments—would allow owners to better understand their buildings' energy and water performance, prioritize operational and capital improvements, verify the return on those investments, and plan future budget needs. HUD plans to use the information to develop a more accurate picture of energy usage across a variety of construction and subsidy types.

MBA: Multifamily Lending Up 28% in 2015

Nearly 3,000 lenders provided $249.8 billion for five-plus unit apartment buildings last year--a 28 percent jump year-over-year--the Mortgage Bankers Association reported this morning.
"Multifamily mortgage borrowing and lending set a new record in 2015," said MBA Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Research Jamie Woodwell. "Demand for mortgages was driven by strong property fundamentals, increasing property values, a robust transaction market and low interest rates." Woodwell noted that the sector's mortgage capital came from record lending by banks, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and life insurance companies. "As we look at 2016 and 2017, those factors appear to remain in place," he said. Multifamily mortgages originated in 2015 went to a variety of investors, Woodwell said. By dollar volume, the greatest share--35 percent--went into commercial bank, thrift and credit union portfolios. MBA reported 63 percent of active lenders made five or fewer multifamily loans during the year.

Housing Spotlight: The Long Wait for a Home

NLIHC's new report Housing Spotlight: The Long Wait for a Home about Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) and Public Housing waiting lists. An NLIHC survey of Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) indicated that 53% of HCV waiting lists were closed to new applicants and another 4% were open only to specific populations, such as homeless individuals and families, veterans, persons with a disability, or local residents. Sixty-five percent of closed HCV waiting lists had been closed for at least one year, more than half did not think the list would reopen within the next year, and wait times for HCVs often spanned years. The findings make clear that we must expand housing resources for our nation’s lowest income renters. HCV waiting lists had a median wait time of 1.5 years for housing assistance. Twenty-five percent had a wait of at least 3 years. Twenty-five percent of the largest PHAs (5,000+ vouchers and public housing units combined) with HCV waiting lists had a wait time of at least 7 years. The average HCV waiting list consisted of 2,013 households. Public Housing waiting lists had a median wait time of 9 months. Twenty-five percent of them had a wait time of at least 1.5 years. Public Housing waiting lists had an average size of 834 households. Extremely low income (ELI) households, whose incomes are at or below 30% of the area median income, accounted for 74% of households on the average HCV waiting list and 67% of households on the average Public Housing waiting list.

Here are the Top 5 Trends in Real Estate Over the Past 35 Years

Thirty-five years ago the housing market looked drastically different, with the word “internet” nowhere to be found and the thought of less than a 4% mortgage rate crazy. The National Association of Realtors, however, has followed the changes every step of the way, releasing its Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey since 1981.  “When the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers made its debut 35 years ago, consumers and Realtors navigated a much different real estate landscape,” said NAR President Tom Salomone on the upcoming survey results. The survey is the longest-running series of national housing data which evaluates the demographics, preferences, motivations, plans and experiences of recent homebuyers and sellers.
In anticipation of the 2016 survey release on Oct. 31, NAR identified five noteworthy real estate trends since the survey’s inception.