July 8, 2012 |
WASHINGTON — Two federal agencies with far-reaching influence over the mortgage market are working on a problem that could affect the ability of many consumers to obtain a home loan: How to encourage private lenders to ease up on their underwriting restrictions that go beyond what the agencies themselves require for mortgage approvals. Both the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees giant investors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration, which runs the low-down-payment FHA program, are considering steps they might take to persuade lenders to open the mortgage spigots a little wider.
March 18, 2012 |
The Obama administration's new plan to stimulate refinancings of FHA mortgages is likely to help large numbers of homeowners — even those who are deeply underwater — cut their monthly costs by switching to a loan with a rate below 4%. Here's a quick overview of the "streamline refi" program and what it will take for you to qualify. First, the baseline criteria: Your current home loan must be FHA-insured and must have been put on the Federal Housing Administration's books no later than May 31, 2009.
February 15, 2012 |
Citigroup Inc. is paying $158 million to settle accusations that it took advantage of a federal mortgage insurance program. In a settlement with the Justice Department, Citi admitted that it provided misleading information about the quality of its mortgages to a federal insurance program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The government provided backing for the mortgages and ended up losing millions when the borrowers defaulted. In the complaint filed Wednesday as part of the settlement, the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan said CitiMortgage violated the rules of the Federal Housing Administration insurance program for six years until it was subpoenaed in July.
November 16, 2011 |
There might yet be another casualty in the real estate market: the Federal Housing Administration. With home prices still seeking their bottom, the federal agency that insures more than $1 trillion in mortgages faces a nearly 50% chance that it could need a taxpayer bailout next year, according to a government report released Tuesday. If the housing market fails to rebound next year, the FHA would need as much as $43 billion from the U.S. Treasury to stay afloat, the report said.
April 3, 2011 |
Could the federal government's booming FHA mortgage program be forcing homeowners to pay tens of millions of dollars of extra interest charges when they sell their houses or refinance their loans? Critics say yes. The government says the critics aren't providing the full picture. Those critics include Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), who is sponsoring legislation that would prohibit Federal Housing Administration lenders from collecting a full month's worth of interest from sellers and refinancers who pay off their mortgages — close escrow — before the final day of the month.
January 9, 2011 |
Homeowners who trade in loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration could be in for a big payday, and not just in the form of a lower interest rate and correspondingly lower payments. If your old FHA loan is less than 3 years old, you will be getting back some of the insurance premium you paid at closing. But only if you take out another government-insured mortgage. If you refinance into any other type of loan ? one guaranteed by a private insurer, for example, or perhaps a conventional mortgage without any coverage at all ?
July 25, 2010 |
Condominium owners who are trying to sell in today's agonizingly slow housing market should make sure that their community is on the Federal Housing Administration's approved list. Ditto for someone who is thinking about refinancing a condo. Under a little-noticed edict put in place in December, the FHA is no longer approving mortgages on condominium units on a spot, loan-by-loan basis. Now the entire project must be cleared by the agency before a buyer can purchase a unit in the community with a government-insured mortgage or an owner can trade in his loan for a less expensive one backed by the FHA. That's important because FHA financing is being used more frequently today than at practically any other time in the agency's 76-year history.
January 31, 2010 |
Call it three birds with one stone: The federal government hopes simultaneously to help low-down-payment home buyers, investors who fix up foreclosures, and local communities burdened with too many bank-owned and foreclosed homes -- all with one potentially far-reaching policy change. The Federal Housing Administration is revising its long-standing "anti-flipping" rule starting Monday and just might score a hit with all three target groups. For years the FHA has had a strict prohibition: It wouldn't insure a mortgage on a house whose seller had owned it less than 90 days.
January 13, 2010 |
Government officials have subpoenaed documents from 15 lenders whose Federal Housing Administration-backed loans have high default rates, including a failed Missouri bank that was owned by an Orange County financial firm. Many of the FHA-backed loans issued by the lenders went bad almost immediately, said Kenneth M. Donohue, inspector general for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which includes the FHA. At a news conference Tuesday, he called the action a review that was not yet an investigation.
October 8, 2009 |
In the wake of the mortgage meltdown, the Federal Housing Administration has emerged as a pillar of the still wobbly housing market -- providing vital insurance that enables borrowers to qualify for loans with as little as 3.5% down. This year alone the agency has backed nearly 2 million mortgages worth at least $328 billion. It insured 21.5% of all new mortgages last year, up from fewer than 6% in 2007. Some lawmakers, however, worry that the FHA may be doing its job too well -- enabling too many people with shaky finances to get loans, and in effect setting up a potential repeat of the housing bubble fueled in part by no-questions-asked subprime loans.