FHA Chief: Mortgage Insurer is Not 'the Next Subprime' Crisis

The chief of the Federal Housing Administration insisted before a Congressional panel that his agency is not the next housing domino to fall, and that the FHA is on sound financial and policy footing as a result of tougher new rules for borrowers. The FHA helps reduce lenders’ exposure to risk of default by insuring almost 30 percent of home purchases and 20 percent of refinances.

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Homebuyer Tax Credits Fail to Spur Existing Home Sales

Winter storms had some impact, but a 7.6 percent drop in the pending home sales index for January from the National Association of Realtors indicates expanded and extended homebuyer tax credits are not bolstering the housing market. The NAR index is based on contracts signed in January. It fell to 90.4 from an upwardly revised 97.8 in December. But it is 12.3 percent higher than January 2009 when it was at 80.5.

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Home Prices Stabilize, Rebound in Some Areas, NAR Says

Home prices stabilized in the fourth quarter of 2009, with the national median at $172,900 — 4 percent below the same quarter a year ago — but it’s the smallest decline in two years. The survey by the National Association of Realtors on the latest quarter’s existing home sales show some promise, with a larger number of metropolitan areas seeing prices jump from a year earlier.

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Processing of Homebuyer Tax Credits to Ramp Up

The Internal Revenue Service this month is expected to begin processing the new form for those eligible to claim the first-time homebuyer tax credit, or for those long-term homeowners who can also qualify for a credit under certain conditions. The IRS Form 5405, along with related instructions, was released last month for the 2009 tax year. The agency has also provided more helpful information to avoid confusion brought about by the Obama Administration’s extension and expansion of the popular credit in November.

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Reports Keep Feeding Gloomier Outlook for Foreclosures

They seem to be coming more frequently – studies or hard numbers showing the foreclosure crisis is nowhere near peaking. The latest sobering report shows that Florida’s filings reached nearly 400,000 for 2009 and the state is overrun with a backlog of 800,000 foreclosure cases. In another report, the Federal Housing Administration, which provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders, reported that about 9.1 percent of FHA borrowers were delinquent at least three payments in December, up from 6.5 percent a year ago.

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Home Sales Stabilize as Tax-Credit Fever Ebbs

Pending sales of existing homes have stabilized, with a modest 1 percent increase in a key housing market index for December that remains above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors’ forward-looking measure of activity. Based on contracts signed in December, the pending home sales index rose from 95.6 in November to 96.6.

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Flipping Foreclosures: Will 90-Day Rule Waiver Ease Crisis?

U.S. Housing officials hope to ease the impact on communities hardest hit by foreclosures with a one-year waiver of its rule against providing FHA-insured mortgages on homes resold within 90 days. Beginning Monday, Feb. 1, its good news for flippers – investors who acquire below-market properties that often need improvements, then quickly attempt to sell for a profit. They will now have a much larger pool of potential buyers – those first-time homebuyers or others who seek or need the backing of the Federal Housing Administration, FHA, to qualify for a mortgage.

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FHA Foreclosure Rescues Now Provide Early Relief

Borrowers with federally-insured mortgages now don’t have to be late on their payments before qualifying for foreclosure help under an early relief program for those in “imminent default.” The Federal Housing Administration today announced that homeowners experiencing financial hardship can get loss mitigation assistance before they fall behind on mortgage payments. Previously, homeowners were not eligible for such assistance until after they had missed payments.

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Tougher FHA Increases Premiums, Credit Standards

In new policies aimed at bolstering its depleted reserves, Federal Housing Administration officials today announced tougher measures for borrowers, including higher mortgage insurance premiums, tighter credit scoring requirements and higher down payments. The FHA also is reducing seller concessions to three percent, from six percent to diminish “incentives to inflate appraised value.” The agency is also implementing a series of “significant measures aimed at increasing lender enforcement.”

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Ginnie Mae Takes Key Role in Lend America Case

The Government National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Ginnie Mae, is transferring to one of its own servicers 6,700 loans – totaling $1.3 billion – that once belonged to the Long Island-based Lend America. It was the largest lender of mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration in the New York metro area before it was shutdown by federal authorities on Dec 1. The company was servicing about $1.8 billion in loans.

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FHA Chief: New Mortgage GFEs Must Be Offered Jan. 1

The Federal Housing Administration is clearing up some confusion about its new Good Faith Estimate (GFE) forms required of mortgage lenders, brokers and closing agents starting Jan. 1. The goal of the new forms is to expand and clarify disclosures to borrowers when applying for a mortgage, and by doing so promote better comparison shopping, U.S. Housing officials say. They project that the new form could save consumers an average of nearly $700 in mortgage costs.

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