As his presidency comes to a close in just a few short weeks, President Barack Obama and his administration picked out a farewell gift for the American public in the form of a break in mortgage costs, says CNBC’s Diana Olick in an article just out today.
“The Federal Housing Administration, the government insurer of low down-payment home loans, is reducing the annual mortgage insurance premium by 25 basis points, which it says will save FHA borrowers an average $500 this year.”
And lately it seems that any break borrowers can get on their mortgages with rising prices and interest rates is going to be well received.
“Industry leaders applauded the move, but suggest more needs to be done to juice a housing market that is becoming ever more expensive. First-time homebuyers in particular are struggling to enter today’s market, as higher home prices and higher mortgage rates hit affordability. Underwriting, in particular, remains tight, and credit scores for FHA are still higher than they have been historically.”
So, why now? After all the highs and lows the Federal Housing Administration has seen since the crash of 2008, what makes this the right time to look for the little guy?
“In 2008, at the height of the crisis, nearly one-quarter of new loans were backed by the FHA. That is now down to about 1 in 6. The housing bailout, however, put the FHA in the red for several years, but strict underwriting and numerous premium hikes totaling 150 basis points, pulled it out.”
In a press conference, the current U.S. HUD Secretary, Julian Castro had these words to say: “After four straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it’s time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro. “This is a fiscally responsible measure to price our mortgage insurance in a way that protects our insurance fund while preserving the dream of homeownership for credit-qualified borrowers.”
The question on everyones mind now seems to be, ‘Will incoming President Donald Trump play grinch and snatch back the gift?’
“I have no reason to believe that this will be scaled back,” said Castro. “The fund is in a much stronger position than it’s been in years.” The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.