FHA low on funds, will they need a bailout?
In response to the newly released Federal Housing Administration (FHA) audit report, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said that the FHA would not “immediately” need a bailout from the Treasury Department. The FHA has not taken a draw from the Treasury since it was established during the Hoover Administration, and despite analysis from The Wall Street Journal to the contrary, there are other ways of responding to the FHA’s insufficient funds.
Last year, the difference between the FHA’s reserve amount, and the amount it would need if it had to pay all projected losses was only $1.2 billion, or .12 percent of its loan guarantees; the agency is required to keep the amount above 2.0 percent.
The capital reserve ratio of the fund used to support single-family mortgage loans as well as reverse mortgage insurance programs fell to a negative 1.44 percent, with a negative value of $16.3 billion, but HUD says this does not mean the FHA has insufficient funds to pay for insurance claims, or a current operating deficiency. HUD notes that a draw from the Treasury is not determined by the projected funds, “but those used in the President’s FY 2014 budget proposal to be released in February, with a final determination on a potential draw made in September.”
FHA’s role in the economy
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said that the FHA has taken the best plan of action during the economic crisis by addressing areas such as risk management, credit policy, lender enforcement and consumer protections.
“During this critical period in our nation’s economic history, FHA has provided access to homeownership for millions of American families while helping bring the housing market back from the brink of collapse to a point where the outlook is positive and recovery is underway,” he said.
FHA Acting Commissioner Carol Galante said in a statement, “We will continue to take aggressive steps to protect FHA’s financial health while ensuring that FHA continues to perform its historic role of providing access to homeownership for underserved communities and supporting the housing market during tough economic times.”
NAHB advocates a holistic approach to reform
National Association of Home Builders chairman Barry Rutenberg said in a statement that the trade group advocates a “long-term, holistic approach to housing finance reform. “In light of today’s report, there will certainly be discussion about altering the structure or role of the FHA. We would urge policymakers to proceed cautiously.”
Rutenberg added, “The FHA was created during the Great Depression to promote stability in the housing marketplace and allow first-time buyers and middle class families to attain the dream of homeownership. Over the ensuing 78 years, the agency has successfully achieved its mission at no cost to taxpayers. The fact that the FHA finds itself in this position now, as opposed to four years ago during the height of the financial meltdown, is testament to its ability to meet its mission in these difficult economic times.”
“While there is no doubt that the housing finance system needs to be reformed,” Rutenberg said, “the contributions that the FHA has made during this economic downturn underscore the need for a government backstop for both the primary and secondary mortgage markets. In times of crisis, private financial institutions have fled the marketplace and consistently failed to step up to the plate. Without government support for home purchasing and refinancing, the nation’s mortgage markets will grind to a halt, throwing the economy back into recession.”
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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