Vote on US housing finance bill expected

By Adrian Bishop, OPP.Today
Housing professionals in the United States are expecting a decision on legislation to improve finance availability for condos and ease Federal Housing Administration regulatory requirements.
The H.R. 3700, Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, which is due to be voted upon in the House of Representatives, is supported by the National Association of Realtors.
This bipartisan bill, sponsored by Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer  and Democrat Emanuel Cleaver, proposes a number of reforms to federal housing programs that will streamline processes and create efficiencies for government and consumers.
Ahead of the vote, Tom Salomone, 2016 President of the National Association of Realtors, wrote to the representatives, saying, “This bipartisan bill, sponsored by Reps. Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Cleaver (D-MO), makes a number of reforms to federal housing programs that will streamline processes and create efficiencies for government and consumers.
“H.R. 3700 reforms the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) single family mortgage insurance program and eliminates the current unequal treatment of buyers and sellers of condominiums vis-à-vis those purchasing single family homes.
“Condos are often the most affordable choice for first-time homebuyers, urban dwellers, and older Americans. Yet FHA places significant burdens on these borrowers, even though FHA’s condominium portfolio has performed stronger than traditional single family homes.
“H.R. 3700’s provisions will ease restrictions, opening affordable home ownership opportunities for many American families.
“This legislation also makes commonsense reforms to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) rental assistance programs. H.R 3700 would ease administrative burdens for housing agencies and owners, while delivering fairer and more efficient assistance to low-income families. The reforms also provide incentives for self-sufficiency.
“H.R. 3700 also permanently authorizes the Rural Housing Service (RHS) use of direct endorsement lenders to approve RHA loans. FHA and VA home loan programs already utilize this approach, which uses approved private lenders and reduces the burden on the agencies.
“NAR urges your support for H.R. 3700. This legislation will expand housing opportunities while protecting taxpayers.”
As OPP.Today reported previously, the Federal Housing Administration is the largest insurer of residential mortgages in the world and provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders. FHA insures these loans on single family and multi-family homes in the United States and its territories.
The NAR has worked with FHA for years to ensure people have access to safe, affordable mortgage credit for condominiums, and thanked the committee for showing a willingness to address a number of lingering concerns.
The bill is due to address FHA’s recertification process, taking steps to make it “substantially less burdensome”, as the current FHA recertification process is often costly and that condominium developments must repeat this process every 24 months.
The legislation would also lower FHA’s current owner-occupancy requirement from 50% to 35% and requires FHA to replace its policy on transfer fees with the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s less-restrictive model.
The bill would streamline the exemptions process for FHA’s rule prohibiting certification of condominium projects with more than 25% commercial space. In the past, HUD has championed neighborhoods with a mix of residential housing and businesses and access to public transit.
The National Association of Realtors is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.1million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.


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