President Bush signed into law this week The Housing and Economic Recovery Act. This is the most sweeping change to housing reform since the New Deal of 1934. It is designed to assist more Americans invest in home ownership and shore up the faltering housing and mortgage markets. Like any legislation, it comes with the good and the bad. I encourage you to write your Congressmen to see if we can get legislation to revoke some of the bad. For example, effective October 1, 2008, FHA will increase the minimum required down payment from 3% to 3.5% for Jersey Shore home buyers. The legislation also calls for the elimination of seller down-payment assistance programs such as AmeriDream and Nehemiah by October 1, 2008.
As of July 14, 2008, upfront MIP premiums became risk-based on credit scores and the annual premium increased across the board. Instead of the original plan of making FHA loans more affordable for potential Jersey Shore home buyers; the new legislation is doing the exact opposite and makes it more expensive.
Details of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act:
Here are some key provisions of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act that most affect Jersey Shore home buyers:
- GSE Reform – including a strong independent regulator, and permanent conforming loan limits up to the greater of $417,000 or 115% local area median home price, capped at $625,500. The effective date for reforms is immediate upon enactment, but the loan limits will not go into effect until the expiration of the Economic Stimulus limits (December 31, 2008).
View 2009 FHA and GSE loan limit estimates (PDF)
- FHA Reform – including permanent FHA loan limits at the greater of $271,050 or 115% of local area median home price, capped at $625,500; streamlined processing for FHA condos; reforms to the HECM program, and reforms to the FHA manufactured housing program. The down payment requirement on FHA loans will go up to 3.5% (from 3%). The effective date for reforms is immediate upon enactment, but the loan limits will not go into effect until the expiration of the Economic Stimulus limits (December 31, 2008).
View 2009 FHA and GSE loan limit estimates (PDF)
FHA Reform Chart (PDF)
- Homebuyer Tax Credit – a $7500 tax credit that would be would be available for any qualified purchase between April 8, 2008 and June 30, 2009. The credit is repayable over 15 years (making it, in effect, an interest free loan).
First-time homebuyer tax credit chart
Frequently asked questions about the first-time homebuyer tax credit
- FHA foreclosure rescue – development of a refinance program for homebuyers with problematic subprime loans. Lenders would write down qualified mortgages to 85% of the current appraised value and qualified borrowers would get a new FHA 30-year fixed mortgage at 90% of appraised value. Borrowers would have to share 50% of all future appreciation with FHA. The loan limit for this program is $550,440 nationwide. Program is effective on October 1, 2008.
FHA Foreclosure Rescue Chart
- Seller-funded down payment assistance programs – codifies existing FHA proposal to prohibit the use of down payment assistance programs funded by those who have a financial interest in the sale; does not prohibit other assistance programs provided by nonprofits funded by other sources, churches, employers, or family members. This prohibition does not go into effect until October 1, 2008.
More about the seller-funded down payment assistance provision
Tips to finding down payment assistance programs (PDF)
- VA loan limits – temporarily increases the VA home loan guarantee loan limits to the same level as the Economic Stimulus limits through December 31, 2008.
- Risk-based pricing – puts a moratorium on FHA using risk-based pricing for one year. This provision is effective from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009.
- GSE Stabilization – includes language proposed by the Treasury Department to authorize Treasury to make loans to and buy stock from the GSEs to make sure that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae could not fail.
- Mortgage Revenue Bond Authority – authorizes $10 billion in mortgage revenue bonds for refinancing subprime mortgages.
- National Affordable Housing Trust Fund – Develops a Trust Fund funded by a percentage of profits from the GSEs. In its first years, the Trust Fund would cover costs of any defaulted loans in FHA foreclosure program. In out years, the Trust Fund would be used for the development of affordable housing.
- CDBG Funding – Provides $4 billion in neighborhood revitalization funds for communities to purchase foreclosed homes.
More about the CDBG funding provision
- LIHTC – Modernizes the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program to make it more efficient.
- Loan Originator Requirements – Strengthens the existing state-run nationwide mortgage originator licensing and registration system (and requires a parallel HUD system for states that fail to participate). Federal bank regulators will establish a parallel registration system for FDIC-insured banks. The purpose is to prevent fraud and require minimum licensing and education requirements. The bill exempts those who only perform real estate brokerage activities and are licensed or registered by a state, unless they are compensated by a lender, mortgage broker, or other loan originator.
It remains to be seen the overall effect the Recovery Act will have on both the individual home buyer and the housing industry as a whole.
From the Experts:
“We’re going through a major financial crisis…let’s be clear: Fannie and Freddie can’t be allowed to fail. With the collapse of subprime lending, they’re now more central than ever to the housing market, and the economy as a whole.”
– Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics at Princeton and New York Times columnist, 7/14/2008