November 14, 2017

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

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Federal Tax Legislation

Hawkins Advisory on Tax Advantaged Bond Provisions in House and Senate Tax Bills

This advisory from Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP provides a concise side-by-side summary of the House and Senate private activity bond provisions.

New Legislation Aims to Address Affordable Housing Needs

The 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program escaped change in both the House and Senate tax reform bills.  In light of continuing support for LIHTCs, Senator Kaine has joined Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah as a sponsor of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2107.  This bill would expand and enhance the LIHTC program to better address the nation’s substantial shortage of affordable rental housing.


HUD/FHA Administrative Challenges

FHA Losing Customers Rapidly as Premiums Spur Refinancing

FHA’s high insurance premiums and life-of-loan coverage requirements are spurring a substantial run-off of quality loans from its homeownership portfolio due to prepayments.  This is driving efforts to reduce the FHA premium (rumored to happen soon) and/or repeal of the life-of-loan coverage requirement (see October 31, 2017 postings).

HUD Not Data Act Compliant, Underreported Billions of Dollars, Report Says

HUD continues to struggle in replacing/upgrading its legacy IT systems and processes that put the administration of its programs at risk.  This article summarizes the findings of a recent Inspector General report finding HUD in noncompliance with the federal Digital Accountability and Transparency Act’s required reporting deadline.

Fannie Mae Expected to Soon Introduce New Construction Loan Program

Lack of adequate affordable home purchase inventory poses a challenge to Fannie Mae and other affordable housing lenders, including VHDA, in meeting first-time homebuyer needs.  In response, Fannie Mae is considering a new pilot single family construction loan program to help address some of the challenges faced by buyers seeking both construction and permanent financing.

J.D. Power Reveals Top Mortgage Originators in Consumer Satisfaction

J.D. Power’s 2017 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Survey revealed that the mortgage industry’s promise of technology creating a faster and easier mortgage origination process does not appear to be fully recognized,  as customer satisfaction fell due to perception of slower loan processing.

November 7, 2017

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

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Federal Tax Bill Summaries

The following two articles briefly summarize the initial provisions of the House tax reform legislation that directly impact housing and the initial housing industry reaction to them.

GOP Tax Plan Met With Caution and Concern

A brief overview of industry reaction to provisions curtailing the mortgage interest deduction and related changes impacting the homeownership market.

House Tax Reform Bill Eliminates Private Activity Bonds and Historic and New Market Tax Credits

A brief summary of provisions impacting affordable housing programs, especially those supporting affordable rental development.

MBA President Stevens:  Only Congress Can Provide Legitimacy, Public Confidence to Housing Reform

This article summarizes testimony by MBA President David Stevens outlining MBA’s position on GSE reform that recommends recasting the GSE’s current charters and allowing a multiple-Guarantor model that features at least two entities and preferably more.

A Broke, and Broken, Flood Insurance Program

In October, the National Flood Insurance Program, which has been in the red since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, exhausted its $30 billion borrowing capacity and had to get a bailout just to keep paying current claims. Congress must decide by December 8 whether to keep the National Flood Insurance Program going.

Trump Team Targets Special 'QM' Status for GSEs

The 2013 CFPB mortgage underwriting rule exempted GSE and other governmental loans from the “Qualified Mortgage” (QM) requirements including the debt-to-income (DTI) limitations set on QM loans.  As the GSE and FHA share of mortgages has grown, and as DTI ratios for governmental loans have steadily increased above the QM limits, pressure has grown on the CFPB to align QM DTI standards with current GSE underwriting practices.

Homeownership Stuck in Neutral as Rents Rise

Third quarter homeownership rate estimates show homeownership trending up from its recent low in 2016, but at an anemic rate of increase.  This articles summarizes current trends in homeownership along with trends in rents and home prices.

Black Knight: Housing Remains Affordable Despite Price Acceleration

Black Knight’s look at trends in “payment-to-income” ratio for home purchase concludes that while home prices continue to rise, U.S. housing remains more affordable than long-term benchmarks.

NAR forecasts existing home sales to rise to post-crisis high in 2018

NAR forecasts home sales to continue rising in 2018, but acknowledges the headwinds the market faces, especially for first-time buyers, and the challenges to market growth posed by current tax reform proposals.

November 1, 2017

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

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Freddie Mac Finds 'Widening' Affordable Rental Shortfall

A new research report released by Freddie Mac finds that the already-acute shortfall of affordable rental apartments has widened "considerably" over the past six years.  The report looked at loans Freddie Mac Multifamily financed multiple times between 2010 and 2016. It found 11.2 percent were affordable to very low-income households--those with incomes no greater than 50 percent of area median income--at the first financing.   At the second financing, rents had increased so significantly that just 4.3 percent of the same units were affordable to very low-income households. This represented a 60-plus percent reduction in the number of units deemed affordable to very low-income households.  Freddie Mac Multifamily said increasing rents and stagnant household incomes are behind the problem, which it said could become worse unless the affordable apartment supply grows to match increasing demand from lower-income renters.  Previous Freddie Mac research found rising costs of land and construction have also widened the supply gap.

Three Market Updates from the MBA Annual Convention:




Urban Wire:  America Isn’t in a Housing Bubble, but Some Cities Might Be

Are we in a housing bubble?  We think of a housing bubble as house price growth that isn’t sustainable because it isn’t consistent with underlying fundamentals, like income and job growth. To determine whether a bubble exists, we must look at both factors: the change in house price levels and the underlying fundamentals.  Nationally, over the past five years, the increase in house prices has outpaced inflation by 34 percent cumulatively since 2012. Though noteworthy, the increase is less than half the pace seen between 1997 and 2006, which saw house price growth outpace inflation by 87 percent.  This study reviewed data from the 37 largest metro areas.  The Washington MSA compares favorably with other large metro areas and shows little risk of a price bubble.

Bill Introduced to Eliminate FHA Life of Loan Insurance Premium

A bill, entitled the Making FHA More Affordable Act, has been introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee.  The bill would repeal the life of loan requirement and reinstate the FHA’s previous policy of requiring borrowers to pay mortgage insurance premiums until the outstanding principal balance reaches 78% of the original home value.  The FHA changed its policy and instituted the life of loan policy back in 2013, as part of an effort to improve the health of the FHA’s flagship fund, the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund.  Now, with the MMI Fund on better footing, Waters is pushing for the elimination of the life of loan policy to benefit low and moderate income homebuyers.  The bill is supported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and several other industry groups.

The Hill:  Stevens Will Step Down as Head of Mortgage Bankers Group Next Year

David Stevens, who is recovering from cancer, announced that he will step down as head of MBA in September 2017.

MBA President:  GSE Reform is Within Reach

At the end of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) national convention in Denver, President David Stevens made a surprise announcement that he would retire effective Sept. 30, 2018.  Prior to this, however, he fielded questions from VantageScore President Barrett Burns and MBA members during a Q&A breakout session. Stevens answered several questions covering a range of issues, but much of the discussion focused on reform of government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a pressing issue in the mortgage industry at this time.

October 24, 2017

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

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Fannie Mae: Tax Reform Poses Positive Risk to Economy in 2018

The recent hurricanes did not cause a major shift in the outlook on economic growth in 2017 or beyond, according to the Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research Group’s October 2017 Economic and Housing Outlook. The GSE explained that going into 2018, Fannie Mae predicts economic growth will moderate to 1.8%. While it sees an upside risk from potential tax reform, this is offset by the potential downside risk from restrictive trade policy and geopolitical tensions. During the third quarter, the report explained consumer spending growth likely weakened, and residential investment declined sharply. However, this was partially offset by increases in business equipment investment, inventory investment and trade. But despite all these changes, Fannie Mae kept its full-year economic growth forecast unchanged at 2.2%.

MBA: 2016 Multifamily Lending Up 8% 

Multifamily lending rose by 8 percent year over year in 2016, with nearly 3,000 different multifamily lenders providing a record $269.2 billion in new mortgages for apartment buildings with five or more units, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported. MBA Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Research Jamie Woodwell said the MBA Annual Report on Multifamily Lending reflected strong lending fundamentals. "In 2016, strong property performance, rising property values and low mortgage rates all meant greater access to mortgage credit for apartment property owners," Woodwell said. "The $269 billion in lending that took place shows the breadth of the market--with loans ranging in size from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of millions and the largest lender closing more than 7,500 loans while 61 percent of active lenders closed five or fewer loans. Market momentum has continued in 2017, with strong demand from borrowers and a strong appetite to lend by lenders, especially of loans going to government-related entities."

U.S. Senate: Credit Bureaus Data Security and Equifax

The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs met in an open session titled “Consumer Data Security and the Credit Bureaus” to address how credit bureaus intend on protecting consumer data—specifically in light of the recent Equifax data breach. U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chairman of the committee delivered the opening remarks. “As a follow-up to our hearing on the Equifax data breach, we will receive testimony on the protection of consumer data at credit bureaus,” Sen. Crapo said. At the Equifax hearing, Crapo said that members expressed interest in better understanding how credit bureaus are regulated, how they protect consumer data, and whether there are gaps that Congress needs to fill. “It is critical that personal data is protected, consumer impact in the event of a breach is minimized, and consumers’ ability to access credit is not harmed,” Sen. Crapo said. “Credit bureaus play a valuable role in our financial system by helping financial institutions assess a consumer’s ability to meet financial obligations, and also facilitating access to beneficial financial products and services.

Homebuyers Want Online Mortgage Resources, but Still Prefer a Personal Touch

Although homebuyers are relying more and more on online resources to get information, a new study from Fannie Mae shows they still place more faith in real estate professionals and other personal interactions. With the market moving more toward fully digital mortgages, it may appear as though consumers would like more digital interaction and less person-to-person. A new report from the Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research Group shows buyers do, indeed want more online resources during their mortgage-shopping experience. A survey showed respondents want to use mobile devices nearly twice as often in the future. However, that does not mean they place less value on real estate professionals and other person-to-person interactions, the survey showed.

EXCLUSIVE: Nation's Top Mortgage Lenders Reveal Their Secrets to Success

What makes these companies tick? We asked, they answered

The top mortgage lenders of 2016 are sharing their secrets to success, explaining what pushed them into a position in the top 10. The latest Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council shows which lenders are dominating the mortgage origination market. The No. 1 originator’s advice to small lenders just starting their journey? “Focus on your company’s culture,” Walters said. “Whether it’s a good culture or a bad culture, every company has one and it will affect your business.”

October 18, 2017

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

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Written Testimony of Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Before the House Financial Services Committee

Chairman Hensarling, Ranking Member Waters, and members of this Committee, thank you for inviting me to discuss the work we do at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and my plans for fulfilling our mission with fidelity to our Congressional mandate and the best interests of the American people.
First, please know that, right now, HUD is involved in the federal response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria that damaged and devastated areas of Texas, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. On a daily basis, in our interagency leadership role as the Coordinating Department for the Housing Recovery Support Function, HUD’s team is coordinating with our Federal, State, territorial, and local agency partners in the field, providing temporary and long-term housing solutions for survivors, and helping HUD-assisted clients and FHA-insured mortgage borrowers. In the long-term, HUD will play a key role in the recovery efforts in these disaster impacted regions as they rebuild. Helping the impacted communities in the aftermath of these storms is and will remain a priority for me and this Administration.

Treasury Report Calls for Extensive Regulatory Relief to Finance Industry

The U.S. Department of the Treasury released its second of four reports which called for sweeping financial reform, including changes that would weaken the Dodd-Frank Act. Back in February, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to examine the nation’s financial laws. Now, the Treasury published its findings in a 232-page report, the second of a total of four reports. It released its first report back in June this year. The report claims regulations enacted after the Great Recession made it more difficult for financial institutions to recover, and made for one of the weakest economic recoveries in U.S. history.

Can Your Home Make You Healthier — if it’s Designed Right? 

Aria Apartments in Denver is a new kind of affordable housing project. And if “affordable housing” brings to mind dimly lit, dilapidated high-rises, then tweak the mental picture and visualize a project that consists of 72 two-story walk-ups paired with 13 market-rate town houses, all of them brightly colored and spacious with a sleek, modern design. A daylit fitness room in the on-site community center looks out onto a grassy walkway where residents sit, stroll and play. Renters and owners alike can plant and pick their own produce at the 1-acre garden or buy it at a pay-what-you-can food stand. On the ground floor of each unit is bike storage, which gives residents the affordable and calorie-burning option of cycling to school or work.

Senators Ask - What's the Cost of Not Addressing America's Affordable Housing Problems?

A bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, asking them evaluate America’s “troubling” housing market.  And, to figure out where the government is letting down the American people in the housing market. The group of Senators includes Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Tim Scott, R-S.C., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Christopher Coons, D-Del., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo. The GAO, a nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. By sending the letter, the senators are requesting the agency to figure out how much it would cost taxpayers to fix affordable housing. In the letter to Gene Dodaro, comptroller general and head of the GOA, it asks him to assess, “What is the cost of inaction?” Or, in other words, “What is the long-term impact of failing to respond to the current conditions in the housing market with effective public-policy interventions?” As it stands, the current states of the single-family and rental sectors are “troubling,” the letter said.

Rental Market Finally Starts Cooling Down

The national average rent held steady for the fourth consecutive month in September, indicating the market may be starting to cool off, according to the latest report from RENTCafé. This lack of growth over the past four months represents the longest period of stagnation in recent history and the slowest annual growth rate in six years, according to the report, compiled by the nationwide internet listing service that enables renters to find apartments and houses for rent throughout the U.S.

Who is the New Face of American Homeownership?

The U.S. homeownership rate remains lower than it has been for more than 20 years, even though housing markets have largely recovered from the Great Recession (U.S. Census Bureau 2017). Most of the drop in homeownership is due to fewer renters choosing to purchase first homes than prior to the crisis. Researchers and policymakers have posited several possible reasons for the apparent shift in behavior, including:

  1. Increased regulation of mortgage lending and stricter underwriting criteria.
  2. Weak labor markets for young workers, leading them to delay household formation and homeownership;
  3. Millennials’ lower preferences for owning rather than renting; and
  4. High levels of student loan debt among younger households.

October 17, 2017

VirginiaHousingSearch.com - The Housing Search Site That Provides Landlords With Big Benefits

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“Having a ‘live person’ you can talk to, who is friendly and helpful, versus trying to deal with the frustrations of an automated system, is why so many landlords tell us they love the VirginiaHousingSearch.com Call Center,” said Crystal Kirby, director of outreach and regional support for Social Serve, the non-profit organization that hosts and maintains this service sponsored by VHDA.

Virginia Housing Search graphic

Since its 2009 launch, this free online housing search site has become a key resource for Virginians seeking rental housing. Currently there are 135,000 rental units listed on the site, which receives an average of 23,000 monthly visits.

Maximum landlord benefits

In addition to useful tools that let potential tenants search for rental homes by preference — such as size and location — the site also provides big benefits for landlords. At the top of the list is the toll-free bilingual Call Center that assists landlords who want to advertise their properties on the site. The VirginiaHousingSearch.com Call Center is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and provides landlord support that includes:

  • Adding photos and maps to listings and checking for typos.
  • Taking calls from potential renters when the landlord is unavailable. 
  • Providing timesaving tips for managing multiple properties. 
  • Helping create wait-lists to prevent unwanted calls. 
  • Offering tools that make it easy to advertise rental units on other online classified services.
  • Developing reports to see how often listings have been viewed, and how they compare to others in the area. 
  • Regularly checking in with landlords to verify that listed properties are still available and making any needed listing adjustments.
  • Re-activating listings. 

Here’s how to find out more 

To learn more about everything this free marketing service has to offer landlords, visit VirginiaHousingSearch.com or call toll-free 877-428-8844.

October 9, 2017

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

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MBA Preliminary Analysis of 2016 HMDA Data

The 2016 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data were released, along with a separate Federal Reserve analysis of the data. Here are some initial highlights:

In the newly released HMDA data for mortgage activity during calendar year 2016, there were 6,762 reporting institutions, a 2 percent decrease from 6,913 institutions in 2015. This was significantly lower than the peak of 8,886 institutions in the industry during 2006 and relative to that year, the number of HMDA reporters was down by 24 percent.  Both home purchase and refinance originations increased in 2016. Purchase originations saw a 14 percent increase, to $1 trillion in 2016 from $876 billion in 2015. Refinance volume increased 24 percent to $949 billion in 2016 from $768 billion in 2015, as 30 year fixed rates stayed below the 4 percent mark for most of 2016 (9 out of 12 months), averaging 17 basis points lower than in 2015.

Five Things that Might Surprise you About the Fastest-Growing Segment of the Housing Market


  1. Single-family rental is the fastest-growing segment of the housing market.
  2. Changing demographics and housing market conditions will continue to fuel the rental growth.
  3. Institutional investors are tiny players in the single-family rental market.
  4. The geographic focus of institutional investing in SFRs has shifted.
  5. Future growth of institutional investors in SFRs is still up in the air.


Managing Mortgage Product Development Risk

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Research Institute for Housing America has released a new special report, Managing Mortgage Product Development Risk.

"Mortgage banking is a highly cyclical business, prone to expansion and contraction as market conditions change," Rossi said. "Mortgage product innovation is healthy for the industry and consumer so long as product risks and process quality are well understood." The paper noted intrinsic risks associated with mortgage products and processes amplified aggregate losses of mortgage originators, investors and servicers following the mortgage boom of 2004-2007. In many instances, product development acceded to market pressures as the economy expanded and regulatory oversight waned.

Freddie Mac’s Chief Diversity Officer on Diversity and Inclusion

In an effort to better represent underserved communities, as well as support ongoing diversity initiatives in the mortgage industry, Freddie Mac has announced the opening of a Borrower Help Center in McComb, Mississippi, according to a recent post by Dwight Robinson, SVP of Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion, and Chief Diversity Officer at Freddie Mac. Robinson notes that this initiative isn’t new—it is the 14th center of its kind throughout the country; however, what makes this location unique is its locale. It is the first located in the lower Mississippi delta, serving a rural community with a median household income of $29,720. African-Americans also makeup 66 percent of the total population, and have a homeownership rate much lower than that of the regional average—50.0 percent—compared to 70.9 percent.

Distribution of Housing Types, Race and Ethnicity (Urban Areas and U.S.)

The diversity of urban housing markets can also be seen in their racial and ethnic make-up. Among the population of urban housing markets, 33 percent is Hispanic (compared to 17 percent of the nation as a whole), 17 percent is Black (compared to 12 percent of the nation as a whole), 10 percent is Asian (compared to 5 percent) and 3 percent is from other non-Hispanic, non-White racial and ethnic groups (compared to 3 percent). Only 38 percent of the population in urban housing markets identifies as non-Hispanic White.

October 5, 2017

Recent Groundbreakings

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Old Forest Village, Lynchburg 

Photo courtesy of Andrew Wilds Photography.
This development will provide affordable, accessible housing for people living with disabilities. VHDA provided Housing Credits.

Pictured left to right: Corbin Anderson (Virginia Community Capital); Art Bowen (Managing Director of Rental Housing at VHDA); Neal Sumerlin (Chair, Rush Homes Board of Directors); Treney Tweedy (Vice Mayor of Lynchburg); Willie Fobbs (DHCD); Delegate Scott Garrett, M.D.; Sandra Stanaitis (Rush Homes tenant, seated).

Learn More >>


Community Lodgings, Alexandria 

This apartment building and learning center constructed in 1940 is getting a much-needed renovation. When complete, it will have seven units, including two reserved for homeless families. Community Lodgings also provides youth education, budget mentoring, employment counseling, family therapy and more. Since 1987, their mission has been to lift families out of homelessness and instability and provide a path to independence and self-sufficiency. VHDA provided a $700,000 loan, the City of Alexandria is granting $300,000 toward the project, and BB&T will be the construction lender.

Learn More >>

Representatives from VHDA, City of Alexandria, Richmond American Homes, Brookfield Residential, HomeAid Northern Virginia, MITRE Corporation and Community Lodgings were among those celebrating the groundbreaking.

Gilliam Place, Arlington 

The vision for Gilliam Place began when Arlington Presbyterian Church decided to put their faith into action and their property into mission service, by dedicating their site for affordable housing. When complete, this will be an attractive and economically viable housing option for low- and moderate-income families. VHDA has committed more than $8.9 million in VHDA tax-exempt bond financing to Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) for Gilliam Place East & West, plus another $4.3 million in taxable bond financing and $8.7 million in REACH loan funds. (REACH, also called REACH Virginia, is VHDA's internally generated resource that provides vital funding for affordable housing. Each year, VHDA contributes a substantial portion of its net revenues into this program.)

Learn More >>
On hand for the groundbreaking were representatives from Arlington Presbyterian Church, VHDA, Enterprise Community Partners, APAH, Arlington County, Capital One and the National Capital Presbytery.



Cypress Landing, Chesapeake 

Cypress Landing will provide quality, affordable housing for 50 disabled, low-income and homeless veterans. VHDA provided a $2.6 million loan as well as Housing Credits.

Congratulations to Second Act Communities and all of our partners, including the Department of Housing and Community Development (Virginia Housing Trust Fund), Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, City of Chesapeake, Home Depot Foundation, Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority.


October 3, 2017

From Homeless Shelter to Home: VHDA's Renter Ed Helps Pave the Way

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After 35 years in the business of helping others, Deb Rapone will tell you she was skeptical that an online program could have any real value in helping people move out of a homeless shelter. But Rapone, who directs the SERVE Family Shelter in Northern Virginia, has become a fan of VHDA's online Renter Education program. The program features a nine-chapter eBook, "How to be a Successful Renter," and Rapone is using it to help shelter guests prepare for the eventual transition to renting a home and independent living.

Shelter guests face many challenges when looking for rentals, according to Rapone. The biggest challenge is actually locating affordable rooms, apartments or houses to rent. But shelter guests face other barriers as well, including limited income, previous evictions or judgments, debt, poor credit scores and in some cases, past convictions.

"Some have failed so many times relative to renting that they think they will never find a place and cannot succeed as a renter," Rapone said. But the VHDA program is bringing back hope.

"We use the program's Certificate of Completion as a tool with landlords, and it has helped us many times," said Rapone. "When we have a landlord who is on the fence with accepting a certain guest due to any of their past challenges, we use the certificate as a demonstration of the guest's commitment to bettering their situation and educating themselves about their responsibilities as a tenant."

According to LaDonna Cruse, VHDA's Housing Education Manager, the effort to improve shelter-to-rental conversions began in 2013, when eight statewide roundtable discussions were held to assess the needs of more than 700 industry professionals. The resulting Renter Education program covers renters' rights and responsibilities, common misunderstandings, challenges, barriers, landlord/tenant issues, and Fair Housing concerns. The eBook is sprinkled with tips, alerts, examples and resources, and focuses on three core principles: pay your rent on time, maintain the property, and adhere to all lease provisions. The eBook is available as a free download at vhda.com/RenterEd, and can be used by property managers, housing counselors, educators and others to enhance their own housing programs, as Rapone is doing at the shelter.


The SERVE Family Shelter is part of Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS), which also receives housing counseling and homeless assistance grants from VHDA. With 92 beds, it's the area's largest family homeless shelter, and more than 40 percent of the residents are children. The shelter offers its guests a short-term place to stay, as they work toward independent living.

"Everything we do here for each guest who comes through our doors is intended to address and assist in resolving whatever is preventing them from getting into stable housing," said Rapone. "Not only has [VHDA's Renter Education program] become a very important educational tool for us, but it also helps keep the guests focused on why they are here: HOUSING!"

Since its publication in 2015, VHDA's free Renter Education eBook has been downloaded more than 2,600 times.

October 2, 2017

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

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Joint Administration-Congress Tax Reform Framework Preserves Housing Credit 

The Administration and Republican leaders in both the House and Senate together released their Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code, a broad tax reform outline intended to serve as a template for the tax-writing committees to develop tax reform legislation. We are excited to report that the Administration and congressional leaders propose to retain the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, saying that "the framework explicitly preserves business credits in two areas where tax incentives have proven to be effective in promoting policy goals important in the American economy: research and development (R&D) and low-income housing."
The Framework does not speak to municipal bonds; however, NCSHA has learned from both congressional and industry sources that, when asked explicitly about the authors' intentions regarding municipal bonds, a White House spokesperson speaking at a press briefing yesterday said that the authors of the Framework intend to protect them. NCSHA is working to clarify whether private activity bonds, which are type of municipal bonds, would be preserved.

IRS Proposes Changes to PAB Public Notice Requirements; Special Standards for MRBs 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule that would simplify the public approval requirements that apply to tax-exempt Housing Bonds and other private activity bonds (PABs). The proposal also includes an NCSHA-supported special exemption from certain public approval requirements for single-family mortgage revenue bonds (MRBs). Under current IRS regulations, issuers of Housing Bonds and other PABs are required to hold a public hearing on a potential PAB issuance before the issuance can be approved. The issuer is required to notify the community impacted by the PAB issuance of the public meeting via either newspaper, television, or radio at least 14 days before the public meeting is to take place. The proposed rule would amend this requirement to allow HFAs and other issuers to meet the public notice requirement through electronic sources, as long as such methods comply with a state's open meeting requirements.

FHFA Proposed Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 Would Direct GSEs to Work with HFAs 

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its proposed Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018-2022. The plan outlines FHFA's goals and priorities for overseeing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs). The proposal identifies three major performance goals: ensuring safe and sound regulated entities; ensuring a liquid, stable, and accessible housing finance market; and managing the enterprises' ongoing conservatorship.

NLIHC and PAHRC Launch Updated National Housing Preservation Database

NLIHC and the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) released a major update to the National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD). The update includes new data and a new user interface, as well as profiles of the federally funded affordable housing preservation needs for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are almost 5 million federally assisted rental homes nationally. Nearly 500,000 of these rental homes will reach the end of their current subsidy contracts and affordability restrictions for low income families in the next five years. About one in four of these homes are funded by Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs), and three-fifths are funded by HUD Project Based Rental Assistance (Section 8) contracts.

Report Finds Direct Link between Housing and School Segregation in Richmond Region  

As the Richmond region continues to get more diverse, schools and housing continue to be segregated, a new report has found. “As part of our legacy of discrimination, students and their families from minority segregated communities face higher levels of poverty, higher unemployment rates, lower levels of educational attainment and worse health measures,” the authors of the report wrote. “Compounded, these differences have lasting influences on students’ educational attainment and future success.” The report, which was completed this summer after about three years of work, is being presented to local officials by the authors: Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, an education professor at Virginia Commonwealth University; Brian Koziol, the director of research and consulting services at Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Virginia; John Moeser, a fellow at the University of Richmond; Taylor Holden, a technician in the Spatial Analysis Lab at the University of Richmond; and Tom Shields, the chair of graduate education at the University of Richmond.

New Poll Shows Virginians Strongly Favor Policies that Make Housing More Affordable

A majority of Virginians want to expand state funding for affordable housing and require utility companies to support efficiency upgrades that help families save on energy bills. The Campaign for Housing and Civic Engagement (CHACE), a statewide network of housing advocates spearheaded by the Virginia Housing Alliance and the Virginia Poverty Law Center working to elevate housing issues for the 2017 elections, revealed the results of a statewide public opinion survey on housing and energy efficiency issues conducted by the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. The poll’s findings demonstrate that, by a wide margin, Virginians want a full spectrum of housing opportunities for all their neighbors. 82% of voters strongly believe that people who work in their community should be able to find a home there. 56% of voters agree that housing affordability is vital to their community’s economic success. 58% of voters also believe that ending homelessness is an important government priority.

Lessons from Past Storms Should Guide Mortgage Industry in Post-Storm Recovery

Homeowners in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have returned to their homes and have begun to assess the damage caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. As mortgage servicers begin to address the concerns of these homeowners, they should pay heed to lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, which damaged or destroyed more than 650,000 homes in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut five years ago. The total estimated $71.4 billion cost of Sandy included not only repairs to homes but also significant repairs to public infrastructure and projects designed to prevent future storm damage. Moody’s Analytics estimates that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused between $75 and $95 billion in residential property damage alone and there are an estimated 4.3 million mortgage-encumbered homes in the Harvey and Irma-related FEMA disaster area counties. The impact of the 2017 hurricane season is thus likely to rival, if not dwarf, that of Sandy. Lenders and servicers can prepare by considering the immediate, short term and longer term impact of prior hurricanes, such as Superstorm Sandy, on their business.

September 28, 2017

Getting the Word Out to First-time Homebuyers

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As part of our public outreach, VHDA's Business Development and Training Manager Dan Kern made a number of media appearances to talk about VHDA and how our programs, including our unique Loan Combo, can help make homeownership a reality.


September 26, 2017

VHDA Grant Programs and Initiatives

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VHDA's Annual Grantee Training Event
VHDA's Grant Programs & Initiatives support Virginia's Affordable Housing Network. The Community Outreach Division recently hosted its second annual Grantee Training in August. Over the course of two days, 95 individuals from 70 grantee agencies learned about VHDA grant programs, resources and statewide housing initiatives. The meeting featured 17 workshops, 24 speakers and an evening networking session. Thanks to all who attended and presented.

Learn About VHDA Grants >>

September 21, 2017

VHDA/USDA Loan Program Helps Rural Home Buyers Purchase Existing Manufactured Homes

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Previously, Only New Manufactured Homes Were Eligible


The Virginia Housing Development Authority recently partnered with a federal agency to pilot a new home loan program in Virginia that helps low to moderate-income individuals and families buy manufactured homes in rural areas.

By agreeing to join the Existing Manufactured Housing Unit Financing Pilot Program offered by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development, VHDA has been able to expand its existing VHDA/USDA loan program from financing only new manufactured housing – defined as one year old and newer – to financing existing manufactured housing that can be between one and approximately 10 years old. As a result, many more manufactured housing units are now available to be financed with the multiple benefits offered by VHDA and USDA.

“The beauty of this loan program is that it offers zero down payment, minimal cash out of pocket, a less expensive guarantee fee, and VHDA’s low interest rate – these benefits combined give rural home buyers a great deal,” said Allen Andrs, VHDA Mobile Mortgage Field Originator. “Because VHDA typically offers a below market interest rate and USDA offers the lowest loan guarantee fee available, I believe this is the best home loan program in the state, if not the country.”

Allen Andrs, VHDA Mobile Mortgage Field Originator and Tenesha Bullock, Virginia’s first borrower to use the VHDA/USDA loan program, stand beside VHDA’s Mobile Mortgage Office.

The pilot loan program became available in Virginia this year when Michael Urban, USDA Single Family Housing Program Director, transferred from Vermont and was able to have Virginia included with the eight other states in the pilot.

“This program’s out of pocket expenses are definitely less for home buyers,” said Urban. “Our financing is 100% of the appraised value, and then we allow closing costs to be rolled in if the property appraises high enough, so some of our candidates could truly get into their home with no money out of pocket, while other loan programs have down payment requirements. The bottom line is that this program is helping more people get into homeownership.

Michael Urban, Virginia’s Single Family Housing Program Director for USDA – Rural Development and Tenesha Bullock, Virginia’s first borrower to use the VHDA/USDA loan program, stand in front of her new manufactured home.


“We discussed this pilot program with VHDA, and it just so happened that at the time VHDA’s Mobile Mortgage Office was working with first-time home buyer Tenesha Bullock on the purchase of her manufactured home with another loan product,” he added.

Andrs noted that Bullock’s loan application fit the guidelines of the new program, because the house she was buying was a 14-month-old manufactured home that was a model on a dealer’s lot. “Under the current USDA Guarantee program, we can’t finance manufactured homes that are greater than 12 months old. As a result, many older units on dealers’ lots wouldn’t have qualified, so Tenesha wouldn’t have been eligible. Fortunately, she qualified under the pilot program, and we were able to help her buy that home. As a result, she became VHDA’s first borrower using the VHDA/USDA loan program,” he said.

Allen Andrs, VHDA Mobile Mortgage Field Originator, meets with Tenesha Bullock, Virginia’s first borrower to use the VHDA/USDA loan program, inside VHDA’s Mobile Mortgage Office.

“It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said Bullock. “I would absolutely recommend this program to other home buyers, because it gives people who may have lower incomes a chance to obtain homeownership.”

Bullock added that the no down payment feature was key to her purchase of the house. “Instead of taking a couple of years to save the thousands of dollars needed for a down payment, I was able to pursue homeownership immediately through this program,” she said.

Andrs said that over the life of Bullock’s 30-year fixed rate loan, he estimates she will save over $18,000 as a result of Rural Development’s loan guarantee fee, which is the lowest on the market.
“I am very fortunate to be the first one in this program, and I’m glad that VHDA was able to switch me over to the VHDA/USDA loan before I closed on the other loan. They saved me a lot of money on my monthly payment – I couldn’t be happier,” Bullock concluded.

Tenesha Bullock, Virginia’s first borrower to use the VHDA/USDA loan program, stands on the front deck of her new manufactured home.  

In addition to new construction, the pilot program allows for financing to purchase an existing manufactured home, on a permanent foundation, that was manufactured after January 1, 2006.
Manufactured homes are defined as homes that are factory-built in the U.S. to federal construction standards. These homes are built on permanent chassis so they can be transported; however, they typically are not moved after they are installed. Most manufactured homes in Virginia are identified as vinyl-sided ranchers on masonry foundations.

To learn more about the VHDA/USDA loan program or find out about eligibility requirements, contact Allen Andrs, VHDA Mobile Mortgage Field Originator, at Allen.Andrs@VHDA.com or (804) 837-1879.

Homebuyers can also use VHDA’s “Find a Lender” search on VHDA’s website (vhda.com) to locate local lenders who can assist with VHDA loans and interest rates.

Upcoming Housing Credit Events

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Housing Credit Training

VHDA's Housing Credit department is offering several different training courses for developers, owners, architects and others involved in Virginia's LIHTC (Housing Credit) program. Topics include How to Complete a LIHTC (Housing Credit) Submission, Architect Certification and Universal Design Plans Submission Requirements, and Universal Design.

Info & Registration >>


Housing Credit Conference, Sept. 26 - 27, 2017

VHDA is the Platinum sponsor of this year's conference, to be held at the Omni Richmond Hotel. The keynote speaker will be Bobby Rozen, who has worked for many years in support of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (also known as Housing Credits), and was one of the five original members of Affordable Housing Finance Magazine's Affordable Housing Hall of Fame. Susan Dewey will also be speaking at the event. We hope to see you there!

Info & Registration >>


September 19, 2017

Loan Combo Proves Popular with New Homebuyers

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In April, VHDA began advertising our Loan Combo package, which consists of a VHDA mortgage, our Down Payment Assistance grant, a Mortgage Credit Certificate and our free first-time homebuyer's class. Ads directed users to our Loan Combo landing page, which had more than 56,000 visits, resulting in hundreds of inquiries to our lending partners, and borrowers are continuing to ask about VHDA's Loan Combo.

Learn More >>

September 18, 2017

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

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Congress Passes Stopgap Funding, Debt Ceiling Extension, and Disaster Aid 

On September 8, President Donald Trump signed a legislative package including provisions to provide more than $15 billion in disaster recovery aid, raise the debt ceiling, and enact a continuing resolution to fund federal programs after the September 30 end of this fiscal year until December 8, 2017. The president's signature came after House lawmakers cleared the bill (HR 601) by a 316-90 vote earlier in the day. The Senate approved the package the day before by a 80-17 vote. The legislative package clears Congress' September calendar of several battles that were expected to occur over appropriations, the debt limit, and the future of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Trump, who endorsed the package earlier in the week, urged members of Congress to now use September to work on tax reform.

Trump Nominates Brian Montgomery to Lead FHA 

President Trump nominated Brian Montgomery to serve as commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and HUD assistant secretary for housing. Montgomery previously served as FHA commissioner/assistant secretary for housing from 2005 to mid-2009 after working on President George W. Bush's White House staff. He is currently vice-chairman of the Collingwood Group, a housing finance consulting firm he co-founded.

Senate Confirms Pam Patenaude for Deputy HUD Secretary 

The U.S. Senate confirmed Pamela Patenaude's nomination to serve as Deputy Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The final vote approving Patenaude's nomination was 80-17, with all Republicans and most Democrats voting in favor. Three Senators did not vote. As NCSHA has previously reported, Patenaude has held a variety of housing policy positions in both the public and private sectors. She served as HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development under President George W. Bush and as HUD's White House liaison under President Reagan. She also previously administered the Section 8 program for the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority. She is currently president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for America's Families, an organization that seeks to elevate housing's place on the political agenda.

Report: Housing Bond Issuance Soared in 2016 

Private activity Housing Bond issuance increased nearly 60 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to the Council of Development Finance Agencies' (CDFA) latest Annual Volume Cap Report for 2017. The report, which CDFA released, presents data on how states allocate and utilize their private activity bond (PAB) cap each year. All but two states submitted data for 2016, a higher participation rate than achieved for previous reports. The report finds that state and local governments issued $18.47 billion in Housing Bonds, including single-family Mortgage Revenue Bonds (MRBs) and Multifamily Bonds, in 2016, compared to $10.91 billion in 2015. Housing Bonds accounted for 91 percent of total PAB issuance in 2016. This is the third consecutive year that Housing Bonds have made up at least 80% of all PABs issued. Total PAB issuance was $20.38 billion in 2016, a substantial increase from $12.98 billion in 2015.

Is Housing Affordable If It Means Spending More on Commuting?

Many Virginians struggle to find a home in their budget that's also close to their job. The Housing and Commuting Affordability Index on SOURCEBOOK identifies the percentage of income needed to afford the average home in their community, plus the average cost of commuting to and from work. A household is considered housing and transportation cost burdened if it spends over 34% of household income on rental or mortgage and commuting costs combined. The Index is available statewide, for metro regions, and all localities - and shows the difference between income levels. In Virginia, the average low-income household making 60% of AMI spends nearly half (47%) of their income just for their home and for getting to work. These stats again demonstrate the need for greater harmony between economic development and housing strategies.

HUD Publishes 2018 Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts 

On September 11, HUD published a Notice in the Federal Register designating Difficult Development Areas (DDA) and Qualified Census Tracts (QCT) for 2018 for purposes of the basis boost allowed under Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) program. DDAs are areas with high construction, land, and utility costs relative to area median income, and QCTs are areas in which at least 50 percent of the households have an income which is less than 60 percent of area median income or which have a poverty rate of at least 25 percent. As it has for the last two years, HUD DDA designations are set at the zip code level, rather than designations covering full metropolitan statistical areas, as was HUD's previous practice.

September 14, 2017

Recent Ribbon Cuttings

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Summer Haven, Virginia Beach 

Summer Haven is a new affordable apartment community for working families in Virginia Beach, financed by VHDA.


Watch the Video on YouTube >>


On hand to cut the ribbon were VHDA Executive Director Susan Dewey, Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, Steve Lawson of The Lawson Companies and Sarah B. Stedfast of NewTowne Mortgage (also VHDA's Board of Commissioners).

Highland Park Senior Apartments, Richmond 

Highland Park was originally a school, built in 1909. It's now 77 apartments for low-income seniors, and part of the Six Points neighborhood revitalization. VHDA awarded Housing Credits to help ensure its affordability. Learn More >>



CPDC, Grimm + Parker Architects, KBS, Inc., Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Capital One, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), City of Richmond Economic & Community Development, VCU School of Nursing and VHDA partnered to renovate this historic property.

September 11, 2017

Board of Commissioners Update

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VHDA is pleased to welcome Sarah Stedfast of Virginia Beach as our new chair and Clarissa McAdoo Cannion of Suffolk as vice chair. Tim Chapman has completed his two-year term as chair, and we thank him for his service as he continues to serve on the executive committee.

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

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Black Knight: Hurricane Harvey Could Cause up to 300,000 Mortgage Delinquencies

Hurricane Harvey swept through South Texas and Louisiana, bringing an unprecedented amount of rain and flooding with it. Now, Black Knight Financial Services predicts the mortgage industry could see up to 300,000 new delinquencies as a result of the storm, with 160,000 borrowers becoming seriously past due. Before the storm hit, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they were suspending foreclosures and evictions in wake of the hurricane. “Thankfully, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration have all announced temporary moratoria on evictions and foreclosure sales in Harvey-related disaster areas,” said Ben Graboske, Black Knight Data and Analytics executive vice president. “With these three organizations accounting for nearly 900,000 of mortgaged properties, the moratoria should help temper the negative effects.”

For Homeowners Affected by Hurricanes Harvey or Irma 

Federally regulated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have come together to get the word out about mortgage relief options for those affected by natural disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. If you are affected by the recent hurricanes, you are eligible to temporarily stop making your monthly mortgage payment for up to 12 months. At the end of this temporary payment break:
  • You won’t have late fees.
  • You won’t have delinquencies reported to the credit rating agencies.
  • You won’t have to catch up on all of your payments at once.
  • You can work with your servicer to resume making a mortgage payment that is similar to what you paid before the disaster. Or if you need additional assistance, you can work with your servicer on options to keep your home.

  1. Contact your mortgage servicer (the company where you send your monthly payments) as soon as possible to let them know about your current circumstances. The telephone number and mailing address of your mortgage servicer should be listed on your monthly mortgage statement. You also can look it up on the Mortgage Bankers Association website at www.mba.org/news-research-and-resources/hurricane-relief.
  2. If you are having difficulty contacting your mortgage servicer, contact the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) for assistance and FREE confidential support from a HUD-approved housing counselor.


National Flood Insurance Program Granted 3-month Extension

Previously set to expire Sept. 30

President Donald Trump signed a three-month extension to the National Flood Insurance Program on Friday, giving Congress more time to come up with a long-term financial solution for the program. Trump signed the extension, which was included in H.R. 601, after the House passed the extension in a legislative package that also provides funding for hurricane relief and other priorities. With this new extension, the program will now expire on Dec. 8, 2017.

Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Is Making New Homes More Expensive

Since taking office, Trump has rousted illegal immigrants, overseeing a 145 percent jump in the arrest of noncriminal undocumented workers, and backed plans to squeeze legal ones by letting only English speakers in. He threatened Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto with a 35 percent tax on the country’s exports to the U.S., raised duties on imported Canadian lumber and continues to rattle China, South Korea and other parts of Asia with tough trade talk. All carry costs for the new U.S. home, a global melting pot of labor and parts. Trump’s policies could add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a house.

Freddie Mac: Unaffordability Everywhere

Freddie Mac announced a new enhanced relief refinancing offering intended to aid borrowers who are making their mortgage payments on time, but are unable to participate in the GSE’s “no cast-out” refinance program due to having a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio above maximum requirements. The new program will be effective for mortgages with applications on or after November 1, 2018.

How Could Tax Reform Hurt the Housing Market?

Tax reform is one of the major ticket items on the current administration’s agenda, a measure that Congress hopes to tackle now that they are back from summer recess. When President Donald Trump first announced his modified tax plan—the first comprehensive change in 30 years—one of the main amendments was the elimination of itemized tax deductions, which would be replaced by doubling the standard deduction.  However, two subgroups in the housing industry that could stand to lose on this change rather than benefit: real estate agents, and residential builders.

September 6, 2017

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

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HUD Extends Disaster Relief to Hurricane Harvey Victims

Estimates 200,000 FHA-insured homeowners live in disaster area
The Houston area continues to see heavy rainfall due to Hurricane Harvey and the heaving flooding plaguing the city is only expected to worsen as rain continues to fall. Some areas could eventually see up to 50 inches of rainfall, and five people have died due to the Category 4 hurricane with another 12 reported injured. Now, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it is offering mortgage and foreclosure relief as well as other assistance to some families, including to the 200,000 FHA-insured homeowners, living in the impacted areas.

Harvey Flooding Focuses Attention on Troubled Flood Insurance Program

Hurricane Harvey's ghastly flooding in the Houston area is sure to focus political attention on the National Flood Insurance Program, a controversial government benefit that makes home ownership affordable to many in south Louisiana. It's $24 billion in debt, and unless Congress acts in the next 34 days, it will expire. Whether Congress reforms the troubled program -- forcing more expensive premiums, for example, or discouraging rebuilding in high-risk areas -- or merely extends it despite its structural problems, is the big question.

New Research Dispels Common NIMBY Myth

One of the most common arguments put forth by opponents of affordable housing is that it will reduce property values and increase crime. The Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at VCU just released a study that answers this concern. The verdict? Homes built for modest-income households have no impact on surrounding property values or crime rate. Researchers looked at six affordable communities, both apartments and for sale townhomes, in the City of Richmond and three surrounding counties. Property values, sales prices, and crime rates were studied for at least the previous three years and up to ten years after construction. VCU concluded that there is "no evidence" that these affordable communities had "any significant impact on property values, sales prices, or crime rates in the immediately surrounding neighborhoods."

Changes to Popular Deduction Wouldn't Have Big Effect on Housing Market

There may be rumblings about lowering the cap on mortgage interest rate deductions, but it would have a "rather small effect" on the housing market, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller told CNBC. He thinks what's driving the real estate market is our sense of where we're going and the uncertainty with the new administration in Washington. He believes lowering the cap would have more of a psychological effect on home prices than a calculated one.

Diversity: Influencing the Mortgage Industry

Making homebuyers’ dreams a reality is the goal of every great lender, and in the past few years, how that goal is achieved has changed—influenced by laws, technology and an emerging homebuyer demographic. This is where many articles go down the path of discussing “millennials”, but in the spirit of DS News' upcoming September Diversity issue, will highlight another trend: female homebuyers. According to the 2017 National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, single women are buying more houses than single men today. While the majority of total homebuyers are married couples (66 percent), 17 percent were single females (compared to single men, who comprise seven percent of the total).

Fannie Mae: Mortgage Lenders Shift Focus to Enhancing Consumer Experience

The company's Economic & Strategic Research Team surveyed lenders about their 2017 business priorities and risk concerns, based on results from its second quarter Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey, in which lenders reported subdued mortgage demand growth, a pessimistic profit margin outlook and strong concerns about increased competition.The survey found mortgage lenders are refocusing their efforts to address challenges of the post-crisis era--in particular, providing a better experience for consumers.

August 28, 2017

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

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Urban Institute: Here’s How Rising Interest Rates will Impact the Mortgage Market  

Interest rates have fallen not just since 2007, but consistently over the past 35 years, according to a new report from Laurie Goodman, Urban Institute co-director of the Housing Finance Policy Center. The 10-year Treasury note peaked at more than 15% in 1981, but fell to just 1.83% in November 2016. Primary mortgage rates followed this pattern, falling from more than 18% in 1981 to 3.54% in November. Now, mortgage rates are increasing once more as the Treasury yield and the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are up 44 basis points and 49 basis points consecutively as of July this year. Data from Freddie Mac and the Federal Reserve, demonstrates the falling interest rates from the early 1980s until 2016.

Everything You Need to Know About Fannie, Freddie Appraisal-Free Purchase Mortgages

Freddie Mac announced it would be extending its appraisal-free mortgage program to purchase loans starting September 1, 2017. That same day, Fannie Mae also announced their appraisal-free purchase mortgage, offering its product effective immediately. But what does that mean exactly? Who qualifies? Are the GSEs moving to take appraisers out of the home buying process? For starters, why move to the purchase market to begin with? And how many Fannie and Freddie financed loans will qualify? Both GSEs already had a program in place for appraisal free refinances. Freddie Mac began their program earlier this summer, while Fannie Mae began offering appraisal-free mortgages on some of its refinances through its Day 1 Certainty program back in 2016. The answer from both companies was the same: After rising interest rates shifted the market from a refi market and more to purchase, the GSEs extended their programs to meet the needs of the shifting market.

The Game Changer for End-to-End Digital Mortgages: eClosings 

Nearly everything about the industry’s prized digital mortgage is streamlined except for the final, and one of the most important, steps at the end. The entire online process comes to an abrupt halt when it's time to close a loan, forcing borrowers to still meet up and cross the T’s and dot the I’s on an official document with a notary present. And while this process is evolving digitally, as noted here, it wasn’t until recently that the process truly became end-to-end thanks to a new company: Notarize. Notarize took the current eClosing process and brought it to the next level by allowing buyers to never have to leave their home or wet sign a single document.

August 25, 2017

How 61 Mixed-income Lofts Help Lynchburg’s Downtown Renaissance

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Lynchburg had a good problem. With a growing population, the independent city needed more housing. The challenge was how to balance the affordable housing needs of moderate-income residents with the demand generated by a growing, highly skilled workforce with an appetite for downtown, waterside living on the banks of the James.
Photos courtesy of Altus Group

The Lynchburg Office of Economic Development took stock of its abandoned downtown factories and hit upon the solution: converted loft living. With support from VHDA, the process began to transform an old tobacco warehouse into a residential space that would combine history with modern design. The result of that effort is the Imperial Tobacco Lofts, a mixed-income, 61-unit community in the heart of downtown.

According to Wally Robinson, Strategic Lending Officer at VHDA, the adaptive reuse of the 19th century (1898) space required extensive renovations. It was important to preserve the building’s original character, so the design incorporates raw industrial materials and historical structures, complimented by polished contemporary finishes and appliances, and every floor plan in the building is unique.

The Lofts are home to residents with a range of incomes: 30 percent of units are reserved for those making 80 percent or less of the area median income (AMI), 20 percent are for those who make 120 percent or less of AMI, and the remaining units are available to residents with unrestricted income levels.

VHDA provided permanent financing with a Mixed-use / Mixed-income (MUMI) loan through our REACH program. (REACH, also called REACH Virginia, is VHDA’s internally generated resource that provides vital funding for affordable housing. Each year VHDA contributes a substantial portion of net revenues into this program.) The project also received historic tax credits.

The developers of the project, Blair Godsey of Altus Construction and George Stanley of Cityscape LLC, have been involved in other projects in downtown Lynchburg that combine historic charm with modern design. The developers also manage the Lofts and act as leasing agents.

The Imperial Tobacco Lofts are now fully occupied. The addition of this stylish, affordable mixed-income community has helped bring life back to Lynchburg's downtown and riverside area. Residents enjoy the area’s finest shopping, dining, entertainment and recreation, as well as lively festivals, a farmers market, walking trails and of course, the river.

As more people choose to live downtown, the energy continues to grow in Lynchburg’s urban core. According to Frances Stanley, Research and Policy Analyst at VHDA, the population has grown an estimated 14 percent within a half-mile radius of the Imperial Tobacco Lofts over the past seven years. VHDA is pleased to be a part of the revitalization that is happening in downtown Lynchburg.

More info: http://www.imperialtobaccolofts.com

August 22, 2017

5th VCU “Plan-Off” Supports Sustainable, Healthy Communities

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Beams of sunlight peered through the second-story glass windows of the two-story brick building as a young woman dressed in black business attire calmly approached the podium. In front of her sat an audience of classmates, professors and community leaders eager to listen to her presentation. Across the hall, PowerPoints were lighting up screens as more students prepared their pitches, hoping to advance to the next round.

May 21, 2017 marked the fifth consecutive year that VHDA sponsored Virginia Commonwealth University’s annual Plan-Off event. Twelve graduate students from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program faced off with one another in a tournament-style competition, each presenting their takes on solutions for real-world issues. After the presentations, a panel of judges chose the winner to advance to the next round.
2017 Plan-Off winners
Photos courtesy of the L. Douglas Wilder School  

“The Plan-Off is one of the signature events of the Wilder School's MURP program,” explained Dr. Meghan Gough, Program Chair of the Urban Planning major. “This exciting format provides an opportunity for students to translate their year-long effort in designing a plan into an ‘elevator speech’ which they present to a panel of leading planning professionals.”

The event doubles as the final project for these students as they prepare to wrap up their graduate education. Participants had the option of either writing a thesis paper or creating a presentation and pitching it at the Plan-Off. Gough believes that this innovative approach to a final gives graduates a hands-on experience in urban planning. “Our students work closely with their clients and stakeholders, and as a result many recommendations in the plans are implemented by organizations and communities,” said Gogh. “As a result of this intensive professional experience, Wilder School MURP students develop strong work portfolios that make them especially competitive in job placement.”

VHDA Managing Director of Community Outreach Mike Hawkins echoed these sentiments, saying “VHDA is happy to sponsor an event that strengthens the knowledge, skills and abilities of new planners to engage the community and promote positive planning outcomes. It’s great that we can expose them to the state housing finance agency, and communicate the importance of affordable housing in the context of good land use policy.”

Events such as VCU’s Plan-Off are important in today’s world. In the past, urban issues such as transportation, housing, beautification and economic development were often approached as separate problems. Planners have come to realize that all of these issues are interconnected, and that it takes a joint effort between specialists and leaders in many different fields to build quality and equitable communities for all of its citizens. VHDA’s investment in programs such as the Plan-Off exemplify our commitment to creating sustainable and healthy communities while promoting affordable housing opportunities.


A MURP student discussing his project

A MURP student pitching to the panel
Contestants display their projects on large posters which are
available for the public to read on their own. 

Mike Hawkins, VHDA Managing Director of Community Outreach
 and John Accordino, Dean of the L Douglas Wilder School

A graduate student explains her ideas on revitalization to Mike Hawkins and
Meghan Gough, Chair of the Urban and Regional Planning program at VCU