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REALTORS® are concerned about the recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will begin insuring mortgages on certain properties with Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans. REALTOR® officials say there ought to be more disclosures regarding the risks associated with PACE loans.

A PACE loan allows a homeowner to borrow money to finance energy upgrades. The loan is repaid as a surcharge on the property tax. The PACE loan takes primary position to the mortgage. If the cost of repaying the PACE loan and any mortgages on the property exceeds the home’s purchase price, the seller will be forced to make up the difference.

California Association of REALTORS® President Pat “Ziggy” Zicarelli said in a statement, “Although C.A.R. supports voluntary consumer-friendly energy improvement programs for homeowners, C.A.R. believes that HUD was ill advised to approve placing PACE loans in a senior position to FHA first mortgages. Doing so places FHA homebuyers and taxpayers at risk and does homeowners a disservice by approving a loan product without consumer protections and which is aggressively sold to homeowners who rely on FHA financing for safe and affordable mortgages.”

REALTORS® say PACE loans are unfairly expensive and carry higher interest rates than the first mortgage or a home equity loan. “This loan product has no minimum disclosures, no underwriting of the borrower, no proof that the borrower has the ability to repay, no three-day right to rescind, no marketing limitations, no interest rate or fee caps, no kickback prohibitions; nothing,” added Zicarelli.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac prohibits PACE loans to be placed in a senior position to the mortgage. Both the FHA and Fannie Mae currently offer mortgage financing that allows borrowers to finance energy efficiency improvements at lower rates than PACE liens. HUD’s announcement, which is contrary to FHFA’s current policy will only confuse homeowners, homebuyers, REALTORS®, lenders, escrow, title and the housing market overall.

The National Association of REALTORS® also expressed its concern, especially with regard to delinquent foreclosed properties. “A foreclosed property with a PACE loan in the primary position will likely remain on the market longer than it should, further increasing uncertainty in mortgage markets and placing unnecessary pressure on homeowners,” NAR President Tom Salomone said in a statement.

Karen Trolan, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, said, “Now, more than ever, the California legislature must pass AB 2693 (Dababneh), a C.A.R.-sponsored bill that would ensure consumers are aware of the consequences of PACE loans and have the opportunity to rescind after a three-day cooling off period. Current disclosures given to home buyers do not explain the potential consequences of using PACE loans. AB 2693 will require Truth in Lending type disclosures to borrowers.”

 

 

 

 

April 2013 marks the 45th anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act, which strives to to ensure equal housing opportunity for all. Each year REALTORS® join the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and rest of the nation in recognizing April as Fair Housing Month.

REALTORS® play a vital role in ensuring fair housing for all and strive to make homeownership accessible to everyone. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) works to help create an environment where everyone can choose where they want to live and not be discriminated against as they seek to achieve the American dream of homeownership.

Carolyn Miller, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, whose members are also members of NAR, says REALTORS® abide by a Code of Ethics that states REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services and shall not be a party to any plan or agreement to discriminate against any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation.

“REALTORS® want all buyers and sellers to enjoy the benefits of a housing market free from discrimination,” says Miller.

On April 26, SILVAR is promoting Fair Housing Month by offering At Home With Diversity®, a course that teaches REALTORS® and other business professionals how to work effectively within a multicultural market. The full-day course addresses topics like diversity, fair housing and business planning development. For more information about At Home With Diversity®, call SILVAR at (408) 200-0100.

“Knowing how to work effectively with diverse populations can help you build business success in today’s multicultural real estate market,” adds Miller.

Under the law, a home seller or landlord cannot discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. They cannot instruct their real estate agent to convey any limitations in a sale or rental.

Buyers or renters have the right to expect housing will be available to them without discrimination, including:
• housing in their price range made available without discrimination.
• equal professional service.
• the opportunity to consider a broad range of housing choices.
• no discriminatory limitations on communities or locations of housing.
• no discrimination in the financing, appraising, or insuring of housing.
• reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities.
• non-discriminatory terms and conditions for the sale, rental, financing, or insuring of a dwelling.
• freedom from harassment or intimidation for exercising their fair housing rights.

Buyers or renters who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year of the alleged discrimination.

HUD recently launched a new mobile application for iPhone and iPad that provides the public information about their housing rights and responsibilities. The app also provides information about the fair housing complaint process, and allows the public to access HUD’s toll-free discrimination hotline and link to HUD’s fair housing website: http://www.hud.gov/fairhousing

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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