Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Down Payment Assistance Rescue

Down Payment Assistance Rescue


By now, everyone, or almost everyone, is aware that the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of2008 was signed into law by President Bush on July 30th, 2008. The bill was strongly supported by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR). What many don't know is that NAR did not oppose SEC. 2113. CASH INVESTMENT REQUIREMENT AND PROHIBITION OF SELLER-FUNDED DOWNPAYMENT, a component of this bill that ripped away Down Payment Assistance Programs and increased the minimum down payment requirement of FHA buyers. I have searched everywhere to try and find an answer to why NAR would not take a stand on this very important issue but with little or no success. Now... here's a bit of trivia for you. It has been suggested that it was President Bush 1 who made DPA available to FHA buyers in 1999. And while it is true that it was his son, President Bush 2 who embezzled DPA from the FHA buyers on July 30th 2008, in an attempt to place blame for the current mortgage crisis on DPA type loans, DPA actually got it's birth in 1996 when... reportedly... Nehemiah's founder, Don Harris, who is also a real estate lawyer, found a mechanism within the statutes, that let charitable organizations make such gifts.

Section 2113 was inserted into H.R. 3221 at the eleventh hour, by the "Good O'l Boy's network on Capital Hill" just days before the President was to sign the bill into law; a typical underhanded trick perpetrated by many Washington "me first... you last" politicians.

To their credit, a group of honorable men and women, in the House of Representatives, launched an attack on Section 2113 of H.R. 3221. Less than 24 hours after President Bush signed H.R. 3221 into law and barely allowing the ink to dry, Al Green, U.S. Congressman for the 9th District of Texas along with Gary G. Miller, U.S. Congressman for the42nd District of California, MaxineWaters, U.S. Congresswoman for the 35th District of California and Christopher Shays, U.S. Congressman forthe 4th District of Connecticut sponsored H.R. 6694. H.R. 6694 is a bill intended to revise the requirements for seller-financed down payment assistance for mortgages for single-family housing insured by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The bill does not address the increased down payment requirement but the bill does take an enormous step toward overturning the Down Payment Assistance regulation set forth in H.R. 3221.

H.R. 6694, FHA borrowers would need to meet a set of criteria that would help lay to rest the concerns expressed by the HUD over loans being granted to borrowers who have not demonstrated the necessary credit skills to maintain a mortgage payment. For example, the borrower would have to have a FICO credit score of not less than 680. However there are provisions where the buyer/borrower could have a FICO score as low as 620. You can read more about H.R. 6694 by CLICKING HERE.

There has been a lot of dispute leveled at the DPA programs, alleging that FHA DPA loans have a higher rate of foreclosure than those FHA loans that did not contain a DPA component. These allegations are simply not true. In fact a GAO (U.S.Government Accounting Office) study found that 91% DPA homebuyers were successful homeowners and were not in default on their mortgage! Contrast the DPA statistic with the current Fannie/Freddie crisis. Since late 2006 over 282 major lenders have gone bankrupt due to failed conventional Freddie/Fannie hybrid loans using either 80/20, 80/15/5, 80/10/10 and/or 100% LTV mortgages. Now... you tell me... which program has a better track record-the goofy NINJA (No Income, No Job, No Asset) loans of yesteryear or the FHA DPA loans? It really isn't rocket science!

When Brian D. Montgomery, the F.H.A. commissioner made the claim that FHA had to withdraw $4.6 Billion from it's $21 Billion capital reserve fund in May to cover the costs of losses, claiming that those losses were primarily due to the agency’s seller-financed down payment assistance mortgage program, he would not and could not assign any figures to sustain his claim. One can only conclude that Mr. Montgomery was simply pandering to the fears of Congress and to the National Press Club he spoke to in June 2008.

There have been allegations that DPA loan programs placed an unrealistic and over-burdensome strain on our economy. In fact, this is far from the truth. DPA programs helped to add over $24 billion to the economy from 2000 through 2005. Additionally, DPA composes over 40% of FHA business and uses NO tax-payer dollars to fund their programs. In reality, tax revenues generated to State and local governments by new home construction bought with DPA: 150,000 x $82,269 (amount in tax revenue generated from an average single family unit) was in excess of $12.3 Billion (that's BILLION with a "B") between 2000 and 2005. Now... contrast that track record with the multi-trillion dollar bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, that will use your/our tax dollars. Where is the logic to strike at the very heart of the buyer pool who has demonstrated the most stable and responsible component of our mortgage economy? Over 1 million home owners have been created through the use of DPA FHA loans since its inception.

Between January 1st 2008 and August 31st 2008, the real estate industry saw record sales, depleting the swollen reservoirs of unsold inventory. According to ARMLS (Arizona Regional Multiple Listing System) over 80% of the closed transactions, in this time period, occurred in the price range under $346,250. Lenders who processed FHA loans reported that over 80% of their pipe line was DPA type FHA loans. If this is any kind of bell weather for the rest of the nation then the end of DPA can only spell a resurgence of unsold inventory and a depletion of the buyer pool. It has been projected, by AmeriDream, that the real estate market could lose 25,000 buyers per month from the national real estate landscape.

In 2008, two different federal courts took the rare step of striking down the HUD regulation which would have banned seller-funded down payment assistance (DPA). The courts’ decisions were NOT made on technical grounds, but for undamental substantive reasons—the courts ruled that the HUD regulation violated the most basic principles of the dministrative Procedures Act (APA), that is, that an agency which issues a regulation must present at least some “reasoned decision-making” in support of its position.

The APA sets a very low threshold for an agency to meet for a regulation to be valid if it is challenged in court. An agency does not need to convince a court that a regulation is correct. An agency merely needs to present a plausible rationale and minimal evidence supporting the regulation. Yet the courts held that HUD failed to articulate any plausible policy rationale or provide verifiable data in support of its position.

The courts ruled in the Civil Action No. 07-1282 (PLF), AMERIDREAM, INC., Plaintiff, v. ALPHONSO JACKSON, Secretary, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Defendant. that;

“HUD’s reliance on such flimsy anecdotal evidence ‘is not sufficient to enable [the Court] to conclude that the [Final Rule] was the product of reasoned decision-making.Motor Vehicle Mfrs.Ass’n v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.,

After HUD had it's head handed to them by the courts, HUD again proposed a rule to ban charitable DPA, but this time sought legislation which would impose a ban without HUD having to present any rationale or data supporting that policy.

The choice is clear. We all must rally to the aid of the DPA programs. The data, presented by HUD and all pundents who are proponents of stealing DPA from FHA buyers, is flawed... and twisted to strike fear in the hearts of the American tax payers and congress.

Please help put DPA back on-line for worthy and qualified FHA home buyers. CLICK HERE to locate your state representative and tell him or her that you want them to support and vote for H.R. 6694 before September 26th 2008... before Congress adjourns for the rest of the year.

You have our permission to copy and paste this BLOG post into the eMail body of any post you send to your representatives. You also have our permission to republish this BLOG or any portion of the BLOG to your own BLOG, as long as you do not alter our text. If you wish to add your own text to our copy, please feel free to do so.

Lori & G-II are REALTORS® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Phoenix, Arizona.

Lori & G-II can be reached for comment at Lori.and.G-II@RealEstateInPhoenix.net or send a text message to their cell phone by CLICKING HERE or by cell phone at (602) 796-5674.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Congress Stabs FHA Buyers Through The Heart

Just when buying a house couldn't be any more challenging today, Congress and President Bush railroaded the FHA buyer with a last minute addition to HR 3221 aka, - The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 - aka, The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 - aka, The New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act - aka, The Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007 - and... aka, The American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008.

First, and before I launch into my tirade about Section 2113 of HR 3221, I want you to take just a moment to reflect on what the much ballyhooed, Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 really dealt with. This BILL had so many heads growing out of it, that it began to look like the mythical hydra. This is a typical "Washington Maneuver" when creating legislation and/or laws. Our legislators just can't seem to focus on simply one single item. No... they have to tie one idea to another and then to another and to another and so on and so on. Soon enough, the idea that spawned the initial BILL, is loaded with all types of other issues and subjects that simply don't tie together, yet are lobbied for by each of their respective groups and authors... who in the end threaten to vote against the BILL, if their legislative baby does not survive. That is exactly what happened in the last 7 days to HR 3221.

HR 3221 was portrayed to the public as the "end-all" for homeowners who are in desperate straights with their mortgages. In my opinion, as a homeowner and REALTOR, the initial concept of HR 3221, Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, the Senate version and American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, the House version was initially intended to help the homeowner escape the looming potential of foreclosure. Fortunately, that portion of HR 3221 survived pretty much in tact.

Somewhere along the line, Congress added the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, both the House and the Senate had their own versions of that portion of HR 3221 too. Then... one of our congressional wizards in the House came up with the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act, adding that component also to HR 3221. But it didn't stop there... nope... the nation began to really feel the pain at the gas pump so... enter the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007. Now, tell me... how the heck do we go from helping folks stave off foreclosure to "Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act". It's simply amazing!

Each additional component of HR 3221 carried with it, its own set of lobbyists, special interest groups and of course, hours and days and weeks and months of debate in both houses. At one point, President Bush threatened to veto the BILL for reasons, yet unclear to me. Nevertheless, to appease the President and his pals on Capital Hill, more garbage was rolled into the BILL and two weeks ago, the crowning touch was added to HR 3221. Congress agreed to add a component to HR 3221, SEC. 2113. CASH INVESTMENT REQUIREMENT AND PROHIBITION OF SELLER-FUNDED DOWN PAYMENT ASSISTANCE. This sneaky, underhanded, despicable, hurtful, lousy addition to the BILL not only stripped away all forms of DPA (Down Payment Assistance) program help for the FHA buyer, but... to add some salt to the wound of the already bleeding pool of potential home buyers, our brain dead House of Representatives, also saw fit to increase the minimum FHA down payment requirement from 3% to 3.5% of the purchase price.

Even though FHA loans are not FICO driven, due to the recent mortgage meltdown, most... if not all, lenders are simply scared to death to make loans to buyers who don't fit the more stringent guidelines of conventional loans. It isn't bad enough that lenders, who are processing FHA loans will not even look at an FHA buyer unless he/she passes muster under Fannie/Freddie guidelines. Now Congress and our current administration sees wisdom in making it even more difficult for FHA buyers to secure financing. This means that an FHA buyer buying a $200,000 home must now bring an additional $1,000 to the closing table. And... this same buyer is now also paying upward of $4.50 for a gallon of gas. It appears that Congress and our current administration has lost all sight of the plight of the "little guy". Some how they find justice in forcing the average working class home FHA buyer to belly up to the bar, and suck it up. In this REALTORs opinion, there is NO logic in adding Sec. 2113 to HR 3221. The President should use his "Line Item" veto authority and rip this component out of HR 3221 when he signs the law into affect this week.

The bottom line is just this... if you are a buyer, in the market for a home under the current maximum FHA limit of $346,250 and if you were planning on taking advantage of a (DPA) Down Payment Assistance program such as AmeriDream, Nehemiah, DOVE or any other charitable down payment contribution loan vehicle, you MUST, MUST, MUST, secure your loan NOW. You MUST connect with a licensed real estate professional and then get allied with a reputable lender and get your home loan approved NOW. As of October 1st 2008, any home buyer, who wishes to use the FHA lending platform, will not be able to use any form of DPA loan.

Congress has stabbed the FHA buyer through the heart. The little guy pays the price again.

If the President really understood what this component of the HR 3221 bill meant to buyers all over the nation, he might... just maybe... rethink using his "Line Item" veto authority and remove Section 2113 from HR 3221 when he signs the BILL into law this week.

We truly hope that President Bush will rethink what he is doing when this law gets signed. Overall, the HR 3221 is a good bill. However, who ever the brain dead politition or group of polititions was/where, who authored this amendment, simply doesn't care about the working class FHA Buyer. That said... the amended component, SEC. 2113. CASH INVESTMENT REQUIREMENT AND PROHIBITION OF SELLER-FUNDED DOWN PAYMENT ASSISTANCE is simply BAD for FHA buyers, BAD for the Real Estate Industry and simply BAD for the economy.

Lori & "G-II are REALTORS with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Phoenix, Arizona. You can reach us at (602) 796-5674 or eMail us at Lori.and.G-II@GoAirForceHomes.info or Lori.and.G-II@RealEstateInPhoenix.net.

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