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The Obama Administration has announced two initiatives to help homeowners and their families. The Administration is reducing fees for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) borrowers seeking to refinance and providing relief to servicemembers and veterans.

FHA is reducing both the upfront and annual fee for FHA borrowers looking to utilize the streamline refinance to take advantage of historically low interest rates. For loans originated prior to June 1, 2009, the upfront premium is reduced to .01 percent and the annual fee is reduced to .55 percent. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released Mortgagee Letter 12-4, which outlines all the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) changes; increases for new purchase transactions, and decreases for streamline refinances.

The announcement includes several efforts to support servicemembers and veterans who were wrongfully foreclosed upon, wrongfully charged higher interest rates, and who were forced to sell their home for a loss due to a permanent change in service. Foreclosure protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) are being expanded and $10 million will be paid into the Veterans Housing Benefit Program Fund. This relief will be provided by loan servicers Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Ally, Citi, and Wells Fargo.

 

The proposed fiscal year 2013 budget for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) includes information on upcoming premium increases for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Due to a provision in the Temporary Payroll Tax bill from late last year, FHA is required to implement a 10 basis point increase to annual premiums for all new FHA loans. In addition, FHA intends to increase premiums on “jumbo” loans (those over $625,500) by 25 basis points (for a total of 35 basis points on those loans).

In order to protect the financial stability of the program, FHA also says it may implement additional premium increases. The budget likewise states that FHA is reducing permitted seller concessions from 6 percent to 3 percent or $6,000, whichever is higher. A proposed rule regarding this is expected later in the month.
 
The budget revealed that for FY2012 (the current budget year), FHA’s re-estimates of revenues showed that FHA would actually need (for the first time in its history) a subsidy from the federal government of $688 million. Although it now will not request that money because it received more than $1 billion from the settlement with the banks over robo-signing, there will be intense pressure from Congress to re-evaluate FHA and its fiscal position.

For the last several years, FHA has had sufficient reserves to cover claims and losses, but its excess reserves have fallen far below the mandated 2 percent level. It now appears that for the current year, FHA’s losses exceeded its profits, requiring this additional money. The good news is the budget request anticipates the FHA fund will return to full solvency and mandated reserve levels by 2015.
 
The budget also included premium increases for FHA multifamily loans (221 (d)(4)) by 20 basis points. This won’t apply to loans with Section 8, low-income housing tax credits, or risk-sharing.

Last, the budget cuts contract renewal funding for Section 8 project-based projects. As has been done in the past, FHA will only partially fund renewals of these contracts, and owners expect there to be significant delays in Housing Assistance Payments (HAPs). These funding cuts will need to be approved by Congress.

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