October 12, 2016

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

Senator Wyden Formally Introduces Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit Legislation

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 3384, the Middle Income Housing Tax Credit Act of 2016 after circulating a discussion draft of the legislation earlier that day. The bill as introduced is identical to the discussion draft, which NCSHA described in our September 22 blog post. NCSHA has not taken a position on the legislation. Although Senator Wyden has formally introduced the bill, he still is seeking comments on it. Based on those comments, Senator Wyden may modify the bill before reintroducing it in the next Congress. Comments are due by December 21, and should be sent to MIHTC@finance.senate.gov. To inform NCSHA's comments, please send your feedback on the bill to NCSHA's Jennifer Schwartz by December 1.

Congress Passes Continuing Resolution Through December 9

Just two days before the government would be forced to shut down for lack of funding — Congress approved a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government through December 9. The CR will fund all federal agencies at Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 levels with a 0.5 percent reduction to stay within the spending limits imposed by the budget agreement Congress reached last year, which applied to FY 2016 and FY 2017 spending. The CR passed in the Senate by a vote of 72 to 26 and in the House by a vote of 342 to 85. In addition to funding at FY 2016 levels for HUD programs, the CR includes $500 million of Community Development Block Grant funds for disaster flood relief in Louisiana and other states. It also includes a provision allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay ongoing debt service for rental assistance contracts under the Section 514 and Section 516 multifamily direct loan programs.

A Simpler Path to Housing Finance Reform?

A former top regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac wants to abandon the development of the common securitization platform and use the existing Ginnie Mae platform to issue government-guaranteed mortgage-backed securities. Edward DeMarco, a former director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, argues in a new paper that utilizing Ginnie would make for a smoother transition to a new system. "We believe that using Ginnie Mae's platform and world-recognized nameplate as a U.S. government backstop guarantor of MBS, but with private capital upfront, provides an easy transition" to a reformed secondary market, he said. Under the plan, Ginnie would still securitize Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and Rural Housing Service guaranteed loans in addition to those of the government-sponsored enterprises.

NAR Forecasts Heated Housing Market in 2017

Home sales to continue to increase next year
Predictions from the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac show that home sales are going to heat up in 2017, according to a blog by NAR. NAR predicted existing home sales will reach 6 million in 2017, an increase from this year’s forecast of 5.8 million, according to the blog. But this is on the low-end of the predictions. MBA predicted home sales will reach 6.5 million and Fannie and Freddie forecast home sales will come in at 6.2 million. A huge wave of Generation Yers, who have delayed home buying, are emerging into their key buying years. They are predicted to keep home sales and condo sales strong well into 2020, according to economists.

Do we Have a Generation Stuck in Starter Homes?

You may have heard that the share of first-time homebuyers has declined in recent years. That’s true if you’re looking just at the housing market since 2008, but you have to look behind the numbers and at a longer time frame to see that first-timers have fared well recently compared with repeat homebuyers who have truly stalled. The first-timers’ share of all government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans declined from 59 to 57 percent between January and June 2016, and the share hasn’t been above 60 percent since hitting highs of 62 and 63 percent in 2009 and 2010.

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