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Homeownership

Most same-sex couples denied when applying for a mortgage [study]

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) A new study indicates that despite being less risky on average, and having booming buying power, same-sex couples were likely to be denied when applying for a mortgage.

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same-sex couple relaxes at home

In 2015, the U.S. adult LGBTQ population had over $900 billion in combined buying power. Most financial experts believe that the figure is only increasing, making the LGBTQIA+ community an important aspect of the economy. The real estate industry should be paying attention.

Research shows same-sex couples face discrimination when getting a mortgage.

Although the LGBTQIA+ community has a huge impact on the economy, many still experience discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Movement Advancement Project reports that about 44% of the LGBT population lives in states that do not prohibit housing discrimination against the community.

Researchers from Iowa State University analyzed mortgage data to determine the impact of discrimination on the LGBT community. The study, published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” found that LGBT mortgage applicants are 73% more likely to be denied than their heterosexual counterparts.

When same-sex couples are approved, the study found that their mortgage interest rates were a little higher, 0.02 to 0.2% higher. A small figure that can add thousands of dollars to the loan over its lifetime.

The study also found that same-sex borrowers are slightly less risky to lend to.

Mortgage applicants are not required to disclose sexual orientation. On the other hand, the Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity does not specifically prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity (although members of the National Association of Realtors are barred from doing so).

The ISU study researched mortgage data from 1990 to 2015, before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in every state. It’s possible that lenders’ attitudes and algorithms are changing. More research is needed to make sure that same-sex couples have access to credit based strictly on their financial status. Credit agencies may need to investigate their own practices and policies to ensure that they aren’t discriminating.

Texas is an example of one of 26 states that have no explicit prohibitions for discrimination in state law for sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s estimated that about 4.1% of the adult population in Texas are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Some counties do have local ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in private housing, Austin included.

At AG, we believe that housing is a fundamental human right. We must work for change within the real estate industry to give everyone access to fair rates in lending.

Dawn Brotherton is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

Homeownership

What are G-fees and why does the gov’t want to raise and take them?

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Trade groups are banning together to push politicians to not raise G-fees to cover their own ancillary budget, It really would only restrict home buyers.

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g-fees raised by government

As many Americans know, our national budget has a yearly deficit. These deficits have placed many lawmakers into situations that resemble a not so comfortable space in between a rock and a hard place. This results in many discussions over the budget each year, and in some cases, a government shut down until a path is chosen for the country. On March 6, 2020, 33 organizations sent a letter to multiple lawmakers that could have significant impacts on the decisions of the housing market for not only fiscal year 2021 but over 10 years later.

The topic of the letter focused around “g-fees”, or also known as guarantee fees within the “GSEs” (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). These g-fees, “cover projected credit losses from borrower defaults over the lifetime of the loans, administrative costs, and a return on capital” according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

When these g-fees are hoisted up, like in 2011 to fund a two-month payroll tax relief period, it raises the cost of homeownership nationwide for 10 years. The letter gives the example of a “10 basis points [raised] in g-fees amounts to an additional $5,100 in mortgage payments on the average GSE loan amount of $255,000.” In short, homeowners or those looking to get a mortgage loan would almost instantly see an increase in how much they would pay if g-fees were raised.

Besides laying out the details of how g-fees function, the letter also focused on this cohort’s logical objection for not raising g-fees. These organizations stated they “firmly believe that g-fees should only be used as originally intended: as a critical risk management tool to protect against potential mortgage credit losses.” and not used to fund non-housing related programs and becoming the nation’s “piggy bank”.

If you are a homeowner, or can be impacted by mortgages in any situation, it might be time to start saving or speak up. This is a current issue as the president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 suggests using g-fees again to help fund loses in the budget.

These are the organizations who are asking for this reconsideration through their letter:

American Bankers Association
American Escrow Association
American Land Title Association
Asian Real Estate Association of America
Center for Responsible Lending
Community Associations Institute
Council for Affordable and Rural Housing
Credit Union National Association
District of Columbia Association of REALTORS
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Housing Policy Council
Independent Community Bankers of America
Institute of Real Estate Management
Leading Builders of America
Manufactured Housing Institute
Mortgage Bankers Association
National Apartment Association
National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions
National Association of Home Builders
National Association of Housing Cooperatives
National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB)
National Association of REALTORS®
National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)
National Community Stabilization Trust
National Council of State Housing Agencies
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Housing Conference
National Housing Resource Center
National Multifamily Housing Council
National NeighborWorks Association
The Community Mortgage Lenders of America
The Realty Alliance U.S. Mortgage Insurers

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Homeownership

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is dropping serious cash to help buyers

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) What would you do with half a billion dollars? The Federal Housing Finance Agency is putting it towards affordable housing.

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Federal Housing Finance Agency housing

Last year, ATTOM Data Solutions, released a study showing that wages in about 80% of the United States can’t keep up with the rising cost of buying a home. In fact, for about 59% of the areas studied, it was cheaper to rent three bedroom housing, rather than buy.

As such, it should come as no surprise that the number of low-income individuals surpasses the amount of affordable housing available. “Is it a housing problem, or is it an income problem?” says Chris Herbert, managing director of Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, “I would say it is both.”

The thing is, a lack of affordable housing hurts everyone. Would-be homeowners are left renting and forced out of certain areas (and opportunities), while rising prices can also make it more difficult for people to sell their homes. Yikes.

Luckily, it’s not all bad news, thanks to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which is allocating “$502.2 million to the National Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund.”

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to fix the systemic problems that have created this disparity between income and housing prices, but it’s definitely a nice start. For instance, the National Housing Trust Fund commits at least 90% of its funding to creating and maintaining affordable housing, with the other 10% going to help first-time homeowners take on some of the unexpected costs of homeownership.

Meanwhile, the Capital Magnet Grant Fund focuses on providing grants to help revitalize low-income communities. They’ve created over 13,000 affordable homes so far, though only about 12% of these homes are for homeownership – most are rentals. Still, not bad when it comes to helping low-income citizens afford the rising prices of living.

Both groups have great track records, so it will be exciting to see how they utilize this donation of over half a billion dollars. The president of the National Association of Realtors®, Vince Malta, also commended the move.

“Initiatives that address the root of the nation’s housing affordability crisis must take center stage in discussions surrounding the future of housing finance,” Malta explained, “NAR looks forward to leading this discussion and working with the FHFA (Federal Housing Finance Agency) to ensure all responsible, credit-worthy individuals can achieve the American Dream of homeownership.”

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Homeownership

How to inform clients about scams that continue to victimize homebuyers

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Real estate scams continue to victimize people, but Realtors are in a position to better protect homebuyers. Here are some tips.

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home buyer

Despite warning after warning and news story after news story, homebuyers keep getting their money stolen in real estate wire transfer schemes. Some blame the mortgage and real estate industries for not doing enough to educate and protect their clients. Others say the people committing these crimes are getting more and more sophisticated. No matter who’s to blame, there’s no arguing that this crime is on the rise.

What exactly do these real estate scams look like? These criminals usually hack into a business’s emails, often a title company, and get all the pertinent information they need. They then steal and copy that company’s letterhead, and the email addresses, signature blocks and any other relevant information they will need to fool the homebuyer. The homebuyer then gets an email that appears to be from the title company, asking them to wire money, often tens or sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So, you’re probably wondering right now: What can I do? You want to know how to warn and protect your clients and keep your reputation intact (and avoid costly lawsuits). The following safeguarding tips can help keep cash out of cyberthieves’ hands:

1. Pick up the phone. If you’re closing on a home and receive an email with instructions on how to transfer money to your closing company or lender, take a few minutes to call your agent or broker to make sure it’s legit. Yes, this might be a bit annoying, but not as annoying as losing thousands of dollars in an email scam.

2. Be aware. These scammers usually send emails that look like the real thing. If you’re a homebuyer, look for weirdly timed emails (sent in the middle of the night) or spelling and punctuation errors. Is there a sense of urgency to the email?

3. Educate your clients. If you’re a real estate professional, make sure your clients know about this scheme. Not everyone is aware they could be a target (which is why it keeps happening). Set up a specific passcode for each client.

4. Consider using BuyerDocs and asking your title company to use this technology for all of their transactions.. What’s BuyerDocs, you ask? This tech startup provides secure document delivery for closing companies and homebuyers. The company says it has protected more than $5 billion in wire transfers in 2018 and works with big and small businesses across the country.

Scams will never be eradicated, but it is part of your job to know the current scams and how to protect transactions against shady folks.

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