February 27, 2017

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

Mnuchin Aiming for Tax Reform by August

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wants to get tax reform legislation enacted by the time Congress leaves for its August recess. "It will be very significant. It's going to be focused on middle-income tax cuts, simplification and making the business tax competitive with the rest of the world," Mnuchin said on CNBC in his first television interview since his confirmation. Congressional GOP leaders have laid out a similar timetable for tax reform, but there will be challenges to getting legislation enacted quickly. House Republicans have been working on a bill based off a blueprint they released last year. However, a key part of that plan, known as border adjustment, has been facing increasing opposition from a number of businesses and GOP lawmakers, particularly in the Senate.

Fannie Mae's Focus Will Not Change with New Administration, CEO Says

The arrival of President Trump has not changed Fannie Mae's plans for 2017, especially its emphasis on automated loan validation and other customer-focused innovations, CEO Timothy Mayopoulos said Friday. "The change in administration hasn't affected our approach to our business,” Mayopoulos said in an interview after the company’s fourth-quarter media call. “We've been in conservatorship now for over eight years, and it's very clear to us what our business objectives are." The government-sponsored enterprise is "focused on enhancing the housing finance system and bringing innovation to the market, things like [the loan-validation product] Day 1 Certainty that we think will be good for the housing finance system regardless of whatever changes might get made by this administration or any future administration," he said.

Every State Will Likely Lose Housing Vouchers, Unless Congress Boosts Funding

Without the funding, the number of low-income families receiving help to pay the rent will fall sharply this year. Under a continuing resolution that freezes voucher funding for all of 2017 at last year’s level, for example, vouchers for more than 100,000 families would be unfunded, a loss of assistance that would be greater than what the 2013 sequestration cuts caused. Larger states like Florida, California, New Jersey, and North Carolina would lose the most vouchers, but smaller states like Maine and West Virginia would also lose rental assistance for hundreds of low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children. Such cuts in housing vouchers would undermine communities’ efforts to address housing insecurity and homelessness, and do so at a time when the number of low-income households struggling to pay the rent and make ends meet has been rising dramatically. A growing gap between rents and tenant incomes has increased the cost of renewing housing vouchers in 2017. Due to this gap, along with policymakers’ recent actions to restore vouchers lost under sequestration and reduce homelessness among veterans, the cost of renewing all housing vouchers in 2017 has risen to an estimated $18.86 billion.
Number of households using housing vouchers, 2016 - 45,853
Number of housing vouchers cut under Senate bill, 2017 - 550
Number of housing vouchers cut under continuing resolution for 2017 - 2,247

The Mortgage Market is Now Dominated by Non-Bank Lenders

Quicken Loans has seized a larger share of the mortgage market but rising interest rates and anticipated deregulation under President Trump could change things. Most borrowers, whether they are purchasing property or refinancing their home, focus on their mortgage rate and loan terms rather than the type of lender they choose. Yet the landscape of the lending market has shifted dramatically over the past few years from domination by big banks to a market where more loans are made by non-banks — financial institutions that only make loans and do not offer deposit accounts such as a savings account or checking account.

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