Any time a bill comes along that creates opportunities for first-time home owners it’s a good thing. Such is the case with the just-passed (2 Feb 16) H.R. 3700, also known as the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act.”
The legislation, sponsored by Representatives BlainLuetkemeyer (R-MO) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), includes a number of provisions that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and similar organizations support:
“The bill will ease FHA’s restrictions on the purchase and sale of condominiums. The bill includes changes to the certification process, owner/occupancy ratio, commercial space requirements, and private transfer fees. NAR has been pushing FHA on these changes for more than 3 years. The bill also will provide the Rural Housing Service with delegated endorsement for approved lenders. Both FHA and VA use delegated endorsement for their loans. Such a change will streamline the use of RHS loans and speed up processing times. The bill also includes a number of provisions that will ease regulatory burdens on owners of federally assisted housing or who accept voucher tenants.”
Although an article on opencongress.org points out the how HR3700 can impact the condo marketplace thus making it more attractive to first-time buyers, this is only one aspect of the bill. In particular, points out govtrack.us, HR3700 proposes to:
“Lower the amount of child care expenses as well as medical expenses that can be deducted for elderly and disabled families, but would increase the amount that can be deducted for dependents.
In addition, households with more than $100,000 in assets would be ineligible for assistance, though enforcement of this new requirement would be left to local housing authorities.”
This in itself is worth noting because nearly five million families and individuals receive rental assistance each year through HUD, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program that provides assistance to roughly two million low-income recipients. (Under the Section 8 program, tenants pay approximately 30 percent of their income towards rent and the rest is paid through federal subsidies).
That said; the latest step in the passing of HR3700 (it still needs to pass the Senate) is being applauded. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in particular is happy with the progress of HR3700 because it would allow the contract terms of HUD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program to be extended from 15 to 20 years (see above).
Additionally says NAHB, the bill:
- Pares down duplicative requirements that have made the Section 8 program difficult to administer.
- Protect Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher residents from displacement due to fluctuations in the Fair Market Rent, which determines payment standard amounts for the voucher program.
- Change the Rural Housing Service Single Family Guaranteed Loan Program so that it will be current with other government loan programs while providing efficiencies for home buyers and lenders.
- Create a Multifamily Housing Revitalization Program to provide affordable rural multifamily housing. And finally,
- Reduce current FHA regulations surrounding existing condominium projects, including streamlining project certification rules and reducing owner-occupancy requirements.
Ultimately HR3700 creates opportunities for both realtors and first-time buyers. More housing can be purchased by individuals who previously may not have had the chance. Whether that housing is a condo, apartment or house is not nearly as important as the fact that the “American Dream” of owning property in which to live appears to be on the upswing.