May 3, 2017

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

Administration Releases Tax Plan Outline 

The Trump Administration recently released a one-page outline of tax reform principles and objectives it intends to pursue this year. The document calls for reductions in individual and corporate tax rates to be paid for, at least in part, by economic growth the Administration estimates the proposed changes will create and by eliminating tax deductions and other tax "breaks." Specifically, the proposed changes include lowering the corporate tax rate (including for pass-through corporations) to 15 percent from 35 percent and the tax rate for top individual earners to 35 percent from 39.6 percent. The proposal also calls for the elimination of the estate tax, Alternative Minimum Tax, and Affordable Care Act surtax on high incomes.

The document also says the Administration proposes to double the standard deduction for all individuals, provide tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses, "eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest individuals," and "protect the home ownership and charitable gift tax deductions." In its "Business Reform" section, the paper calls for the elimination of "tax breaks for special interests." The paper does not provide any information on what specific tax credits, deductions, or exemptions the Administration proposes to eliminate. It does not mention the Housing Credit, municipal bonds, or private activity bonds. During a White House briefing Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said, "we are going to eliminate on the personal side all tax deductions other than mortgage interest and charitable deductions."

Trump Nominates Pam Patenaude for Deputy HUD Secretary  

The White House announced that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Pamela Patenaude to serve as Deputy Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Patenaude 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. Patenaude has held a variety of housing policy positions in both the public and private sectors. She served as HUD Deputy 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. Before joining the Terwilliger Foundation, Patenaude was Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission. She has also served as executive vice president of the Urban Land Institute.

Homeownership Ready to Rise after Hitting an All-Time Low

  • First-quarter gain in owners was biggest in more than a decade 
  • Wage growth, rising confidence pushing more people to buy 

The U.S. homeownership rate is finally poised to rise significantly as household formations by owners grew faster in the first quarter than those by renters -- the first time that’s happened in more than a decade. While the share of Americans who owned their homes was up only slightly from a year earlier, at 63.6 percent, the number of new owners jumped by more than 850,000, compared with an increase in renter households of 365,000. The 1.1 percent year-over-year gain in owners was also the biggest since 2006, according to an analysis by Trulia of Census Bureau data.

Fannie Mae Announces New Programs to Break through Student Loan Roadblock

Cash-out refinance, new debt-to-income calculations spur homeownership
Fannie Mae announced a significant expansion of its student loan cash-out refinance program and introduced new policies to help borrowers with student loan debt get qualified for mortgage loans. “We understand the significant role that a monthly student loan payment plays in a potential home buyer’s consideration to take on a mortgage, and we want to be a part of the solution,” said Jonathan Lawless, vice president of customer solutions at Fannie Mae. “These new policies provide three flexible payment solutions to future and current homeowners and, in turn, allow lenders to serve more borrowers.” The level of student debt in the U.S. has spiraled over the last decade to $1.4 trillion, effectively locking out millions of potential homebuyers from the market. The new Fannie Mae programs address specific roadblocks that these borrowers face, providing a jump-start to a whole generation of homebuyers.

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