January 31, 2017

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

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Affordability is Housing Market’s Greatest Obstacle in 2017: Fannie Mae 

Fannie Mae warns that political uncertainty and rising affordability challenges could limit U.S. housing growth in 2017. U.S. housing market conditions are expected to remain resilient in 2017, but policy uncertainty and rising affordability challenges will put a cap on growth, Fannie Mae said in its new forecast. “Policy changes under the new Administration – in its nature, sequencing, and magnitude – will determine the direction of economic growth in 2017,” Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan said in a statement released January 20. Adds Duncan, “We expect housing to remain resilient and continue its recovery in 2017, with affordability standing out as the industry’s greatest obstacle, particularly for first-time homeowners.”

FHFA Seeks Public Comment on GSE Chattel Loan Pilots 

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) published a request for public input on possible Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pilot programs that support financing for manufactured housing loans titled as real property, known as chattel loans. This request is being issued as part of FHFA's implementation of its Enterprise Duty to Serve Rule. As NCSHA previously reported, the Duty to Serve rule requires 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. Regarding manufactured housing, both firms will be expected to adopt policies that help borrowers earning 100 percent of area median income or below purchase manufactured housing loans. As part of these efforts, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be eligible to receive Duty-to-Serve credit for purchasing chattel loans, a market segment neither firm is currently involved with.

What Dow 20,000 Means for Mortgages

The Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 20,000 threshold for the first time, but the post-election stock market rally has produced a mixed bag for mortgage demand and the industry's publicly traded companies. The stock market gains reflect growing confidence in the overall economy. That suggests appetite for home loans will be higher, but could make mortgages less affordable. The government bond yields that drive mortgage rates typically increase as stock prices rise. That's because as investors put more money into stock markets, they tend to shift it away from bond markets. When bond prices fall, their yields rise.

CFPB’s Final Mortgage Servicing Rule Implementation Possibly Delayed

Possibly delayed 60 days for review by Trump administration
The implementation date of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s final mortgage servicing rule lies in question after the Trump administration announced a freeze on federal regulations. After a nearly four-month delay since the CFPB finished the final mortgage servicing rule, the Office of the Federal Register finally published the rule on Oct. 19, meaning it would go into effect one year later on Oct. 19, 2017. While the extra time to adjust to the rule isn’t a bad thing, Nanci Weissgold, a member of Alston & Bird’s Financial Services & Products Group, said, “Given the operational complexities in implementing these rules, servicers should not delay in understanding the requirements and developing an implementation plan.”
The implementation date, however, could be delayed even further due to the regulatory freeze announced by Reince Priebus, assistant to the president and chief of staff.

January 26, 2017

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.


(RECAP: In Housing 2020, Housing Virginia looks at the future of housing in Virginia through four lenses – Demographics, Economics, Finance and the Greening of our Housing Stock. In each of these areas the organization worked with an expert to identify and communicate what these changes are and what we need to understand about these trends.)

Technology + Housing = More Accessible Health Care

(RECAP: Seniors, new immigrants and residents with other challenges often don’t access health advice when they most need it. Can incorporating telemedicine into housing help make this connection?)

NCGBCS White Paper Looks at Role of Existing Building Codes

(RECAP: Communities across the U.S. are faced with decaying, blighted and vacant existing buildings, yet half of all states don’t enforce existing building codes at the state level. In this white paper, the National Council of Governments on Building Codes and Standards examines effective strategies for promoting the adoption of existing building codes, as well as developing and implementing educational and training programs.)

January 24, 2017

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

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Trump Administration Suspends Mortgage Premium Rate Cut
The freshly-inaugurated Trump administration has halted a cut to the FHA mortgage insurance premium that Obama's team announced during his final days in office. The Department of Housing and Urban Development said Friday that the reduction to the annual mortgage insurance premiums borrowers pay when taking out government-backed home loans has been "suspended indefinitely." On Friday night, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus released a memorandum to all executive departments and agencies to freeze new and pending regulations from the previous administration. The cut, at a quarter of a percentage point, would have saved homeowners an average of $500 this year, according to the Federal Housing Administration. Borrowers with larger home loans would have seen an even bigger drop in their premium rate. The mortgage-fee reduction was originally announced January 9 and was supposed to go into effect on January 27.

FHFA Requests Public Input on Duty to Serve Program  
Seeks Input on Chattel Loan Pilot Initiatives and Proposed Evaluation Guidance
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is requesting public input on chattel loan pilot initiatives for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) and the proposed Evaluation Guidance under the final rule on Duty to Serve Underserved Markets. FHFA issued a final rule on Dec. 13, 2016 to implement the Duty to Serve provisions mandated by the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.  The statute requires the Enterprises to serve three specified underserved markets – manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural housing – by improving the distribution and availability of mortgage financing in a safe and sound manner for residential properties that serve very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in these markets.  The rule requires each of the Enterprises to adopt three-year Underserved Markets Plans to fulfill this mandate.

House and Senate Tax Writing Committees Welcome New Members for 115th Congress 
As the 115th Congress gets underway, new members have joined both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Representatives David Schweikert (R-AZ), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) all will serve on the House Ways and Means Committee. New members of the Senate Finance Committee include Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

HUD Issues Interim Fair Housing Guidance Pending Issuance of Final Fair Housing Assessment Tools 
On January 19, HUD published interim guidance on how states should comply with the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule until HUD finalizes the state Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) Tool. HUD also provided an update on its efforts to finalize the state Assessment Tool and the other assessment tools it is developing for other HUD program participants.
The AFFH final rule required state agencies to submit an AFH no later than 270 calendar days prior to the start of the program year beginning January 1, 2018, for which a new consolidated plan is due. However, it also stated that no AFH will be due before the publication of the Assessment Tool applicable to the program participant, and that HUD must provide program participants a minimum of nine months after the publication of their Assessment Tool before their AFH is due. Because HUD has not yet finalized the state Assessment Tool, it is directing states that would otherwise have an AFH due to HUD prior to nine months after it publishes the final state Assessment Tool to instead conduct an update of the state's Analysis of Impediments (AI), as opposed to an AFH. HUD encourages states updating their AI pending the final state Assessment Tool to consider the framework set forth in the AFFH rule and draft state Assessment Tools in updating their AI.

January 18, 2017

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.

Outlook for Meeting Housing Needs in the National Capital Area in 2017: Action Items for Local Jurisdictions

(RECAP: Despite the efforts of countless housing advocates, non-profits, and local governments, the housing affordability challenges in the DC region continue to grow. What can local jurisdictions do to stem the rising affordability challenges?)

6 Tips for Crafting a Successful Housing Campaign

(RECAP: Campaigns can be a great away to connect with the community, promote our organizations, strengthen current relationships or create new ones. Most importantly, campaigns can help us achieve goals that benefit those who need our services and the community at large.)

Faith-based Partners Can Be a Natural Fit

(RECAP: Collaborations with faith-based organizations and institutions can take many forms. For example, the Macedonia Baptist Church in Arlington. It has deep roots in Nauck, the oldest African-American neighborhood in the county, and actively funnels its resources into community development initiatives. It made sense, then, for it to partner with NeighborWorks member organization AHC, Inc.)

Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook

(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 U.S.)

Tiny Houses in 2016: More Tricked-out and Eco-friendly

(RECAP: Another year in our housing-crunched yet sustainability-minded world means another year of folks exploring downsized lifestyles in tiny homes. Used for everything from housing the homeless to short-term rentals to, yes, full-time residences, these designs show how sophisticated micro home design has become and challenge our imaginations of what tiny houses can be.)

How CRA Can Promote Integration in Gentrifying Neighborhoods

(RECAP: The challenge for policymakers and practitioners is to figure out if the positive impacts of gentrification can be realized while mitigating the negative consequences. A recent NCRC white paper focused on how the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) can be applied in a manner to promote neighborhood integration in communities experiencing gentrification.)

January 17, 2017

Upcoming Housing Credit Workshops & Classes

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The Housing Credit Department is hosting three classes this month, and you're invited. Click on the dates to register.

    • This course will cover the process required for submitting an application, focusing on mandatory items and excel application review. Pointers and tips will also be given.

    • Universal Design had been defined by the Center for Universal Design as: “The design of products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”
    •  Certificate holders who last completed a VHDA Universal Design Seminar prior to January 1, 2012 must re-attend in order to be eligible to request Universal Design points in the Housing Credit Application. *

  • Architects Certification and Universal Design Submission Requirements - January 25, 2017

    • VHDA Housing Credit Architect Certification & Universal Design Plans
    • This new class, presented by the Virginia Housing Development Authority’s Housing Credit Allocation department, is a class that will go through every item required on the Architect Certification and the required elements needed in the Universal Design plans.
    • This class should be attended by owners and architects planning on submitting a Housing Credit reservation application. Class attendees will be given a question by question explanation of the architect certification to explain what is required so as to avoid penalty points for incorrect information. Also presented is examples and explanation to the format plans must be submitted in order to receive all possible points for the Universal Design units. 
    • This is a free informational class.

Both Universal Design and EarthCraft require that your Architect of Record be certified every 5 years.

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

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Senate Banking Committee Holds Nomination Hearing for HUD Secretary-Designate Ben Carson 

HUD Secretary-Designate Dr. Ben Carson appeared before the Senate Banking Committee for his nomination hearing. He released this statement, commenting on the strong connection between housing and health, stressing the importance of deregulation, praising homeownership, and supporting continued efforts to tackle homelessness. His statement says, "we need to shore up our nation's housing finance sector, and HUD plays a crucial role in the housing finance system through FHA and Ginnie Mae..." He also mentions the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and suggests he would look for ways to improve it, saying that, "it's important for all HUD programs to be evaluated so we know what works and what doesn't and where we can cut red tape."

Carson Pushes Increased Private-Sector Role in HUD Programs

Ben Carson detailed his vision for the Department of Housing and Urban Development: One that integrates government assistance programs with “holistic” solutions and greater involvement of businesses and faith groups. Carson, during his secretariat confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, suggested several times that the private sector should play a larger role in addressing poverty and systemic inequities, investing in “human capital” as a means of both increasing quality of life and profits. “The programs that have been enacted in HUD over the year, you know, they’re good programs. But in and of themselves they’re not bringing about the elevation of large numbers of people. And that’s what we’re looking for,” Carson said. “We don’t want it to be a way of life, we want it to be a Band-Aid and a springboard to move forward.” In another instance, Carson said he would like to work with faith and business groups to help people whose residences are now worth less than their mortgages.

New MBA Report Forecasts Strong Year for Commercial and Multifamily Lending 

A new survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) of the nation’s top commercial and multifamily mortgage origination firms is offering an optimistic forecast for lending in 2017.
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the survey’s respondents predicted originations will increase this year, with one-quarter (26 percent) expecting an increase of five percent or more. Fifty percent of the respondents expected their firms to enjoy a five percent or higher increase in origination activity.

Affordable Housing: Top Trends to Watch in 2017

There’s no question that there is a tremendous need for this product type in the United States. According to a 2016 report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, more than a third of U.S. households pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent. Of this third, 16.5 percent of households allocate more than 50 percent of their income toward rent.
As the demand for affordable housing continues to outpace supply in markets across the nation, many multifamily investors are eyeing this asset class with renewed interest. The question is: how can investors best capitalize on current trends in order to achieve strong returns? As an owner of 41

January 12, 2017

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.

Preview Housing Virginia’s New Web Tool: Mapbook

(RECAP: Housing Virginia previewed a new web-based tool at the Governor’s Housing Conference. MAPBOOK will use both ArcGIS Story Maps and Tableau data visualizations to tell the story of affordable housing across the state. As a companion to SOURCEBOOK and PLAYBOOK, MAPBOOK will provide a visual way to tell the story of affordable housing in your community. Housing Virginia began MAPBOOK plans several months ago and expects to launch the product mid-2017.)

The Wave Of Green Financing Will Continue In 2017

(RECAP: 2016 saw an unprecedented boom in multifamily green financing. Offering meaningful finance rate discounts, these green loan programs are expected to pick up steam in 2017.)

Mapping the Value of Neighborhood 'Character'

(RECAP: Is historic preservation a friend or foe of affordability? That depends on where you’re looking. A new set of maps from the National Trust for Historic Preservation contributes a data-driven perspective to this complex issue.)

Urbanism Themes -- 2016 And Beyond

(RECAP: 2016 may be the year we recognize that urban revitalization is no longer the exception, but the rule. Today, as high housing costs have put increasing pressure on city neighborhoods of all types, we're seeing a recalibration of the revitalization thought process.)

January 11, 2017

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

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Hensarling Announces New Financial Services Subcommittee Chairs 

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) announced the Committee's structure and leadership for the 115th Congress. The Committee oversees many key federal housing agencies, including HUD, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), as well as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs). Sean Duffy (R-WI) is the new chairman of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee, which oversees HUD programs. Duffy replaces Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), who will now chair the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, which has jurisdiction over CFPB. The Housing Subcommittee will now also have jurisdiction over the GSEs. This is a departure from recent Congresses, when the GSEs were overseen by the Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee.

Housing Market Regains All Value Lost in Crisis 

The total value of the U.S. housing stock grew to a record-high $29.6 trillion in 2016, according to data released by Zillow. In terms of appreciation, the housing market grew 5.7 percent in value, or $1.6 trillion, effectively regaining all of the value it lost during the housing crisis. The Los Angeles and New York metro areas recorded the highest shares of the country's overall housing value, at 8.6 percent and eight percent, respectively, followed by the San Francisco metro area, which was worth 4.2 percent of the overall housing value. Also during 2016, renters paid $478.5 billion in housing costs, a $17.7 billion increase from 2015. About 635,000 new renter households were formed in 2016 as apartment renters spent nearly $50 billion more than renters of single-family homes.

FHFA: Seriously Delinquent GSE Loans at Lowest Level Since 2008

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported the serious delinquency rate for mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reached the lowest level since June 2008.
The government-sponsored enterprises' serious delinquency rate fell to 1.16 percent at the end of the third quarter, the report said (https://www.fhfa.gov/AboutUs/Reports/ReportDocuments/FPR_3Q2016.pdf). Overall, the GSEs completed 46,390 foreclosure prevention actions in the third quarter, bringing the total number of foreclosure prevention actions to more than 3.7 million since the start of the conservatorships in September 2008, of which 1.993 million represented permanent loan modifications.

FHA To Reduce Annual Insurance Premiums On Most Mortgages

Modest reduction expands credit access and reflects improved economic health of FHA
As the nation’s housing market continues to improve, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Juli├ín Castro announced the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will reduce the annual premiums most borrowers will pay by a quarter of a percent.  FHA’s new premium rates are projected to save new FHA-insured homeowners an average of $500 this year.
FHA is reducing its annual mortgage insurance premium (MIP) by 25 basis points for most new mortgages with a closing/disbursement date on or after January 27, 2017.  For a full schedule of the new premium rates announced today, read FHA’s mortgagee letter.

January 6, 2017

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.

 Programs to bring investment capital to rural communities

(RECAP: The United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) offers a variety of loan programs designed to spur investment in rural communities located throughout the United States of America. These loans are available to governments, nonprofit corporations and for profit entities. The USDA Rural Development programs can also be combined with other state and federal incentives, including the New Markets Tax Credit.)

Selling distressed loans to investors significantly cuts foreclosure rates

(RECAP: Despite skepticism by many advocates, the FHA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increasing rely on auctioning off severely delinquent mortgages to private investors to dispose of these distressed assets. In January, the Urban Institute showed that sales of distressed or nonperforming loans have been effective from the borrowers’ and taxpayers’ perspectives, but these conclusions were based on limited data. Over the past few weeks, the release of new and more complete data confirms this program significantly cuts foreclosures rates and is a win-win for borrowers, lenders, and investors.)

Zoning and land-use regulation offer potential for unlikely partnerships

(RECAP: Removing barriers related to land-use regulation could be very helpful for affordable housing. In an era of declining federal resources, forming new partnerships and exploring opportunities at the state and local levels are two increasingly important ways we can move affordable housing forward.)

The Overlooked Legacy of Pioneering African-American Architect Paul Revere Williams 

(RECAP: Paul Revere Williams (1894–1980) achieved a number of firsts during his lifetime: He was the first African-American architect to practice west of the Mississippi. He was part of the first Los Angeles Planning Commission in 1920. Williams designed over 2,000 buildings during his career; he was known for his Hollywood mansions but also designed affordable housing, conceptual transportation systems, experimental structural systems, and more.)

January 4, 2017

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

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What to Expect in the Housing Market in 2017

After a relatively calm real estate market in 2016, we can expect some changes to come in 2017, but it is unlikely there will be any tumultuous upheaval in the next year. We have seen inventory come back at a steady pace, and buyer demand is strong enough that it will continue to keep the market moving as we go through the next 12 months. Here are some specifics of what we can expect in 2017: The rate rise is sudden relative to the slow pace of any changes over the past several years. We saw this occur immediately after the election results, with continued increases the week following. So far mortgage rates have gone up about 40 basis points, and now that the Federal Reserve has announced its increase to interest rates, we can expect that mortgage rates will continue to rise. While it is possible that the days on market could return to that low level in 2017, it is unlikely given the recent trend of an increase in new listings. Even though rates are on the increase, credit is not as hard to come by as it was just after the recession, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced it will increase lending limits for 2017. Federal Housing Administration loan limits are also expected to increase slightly, from $271,050 to $275,665. Lenders are bringing a number of new mortgage programs to the table that call for a modest down payment and don’t require the buyers to purchase an FHA loan. The final piece of the financing puzzle is the influx of smaller banks and non-bank lending institutions that have gotten into the lending game.

'Flex Mod' to Replace HAMP at Fannie and Freddie

The Flex Modification "strikes the appropriate balance between borrower relief and economic responsibility," said David Lowman, executive vice president of Freddie Mac's single-family business. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will replace the expiring Home Affordable Mortgage Program with a new loss mitigation option called the Flex Modification. The new program is expected to provide a 20% payment reduction for eligible borrowers, the government-sponsored enterprises said Wednesday. Fannie and Freddie said that "a high percentage" of borrowers who are at least 60 days delinquent on their mortgages would be eligible; in certain cases, those who are less than 60 days delinquent or even current on their loans could also qualify.

Boosting Homeownership Among Minorities

Minority home mortgages increased more than white home mortgages between 2013 and 2015 in several metros across the U.S., according to a recent report from Urban Institute. The report is quick to add that this increase was not without a “virtual roller coaster” of sorts starting with a homebuying surge during the housing boom and a large decrease during the housing crisis, before the increase beginning in the recovery.