The U.S. Government has been touting how the original and now extended (and expanded) first time home buyer federal tax credit has been helping the housing market and overall economy. Yet, at the same time (and on the down-low), they’re trying to pass legislation that will make it harder for home buyers – first and veteran – to buy a home.
“They’re seriously making it even harder to buy a home in this housing market?!”
Yes, seriously. Let’s take a look at what’s going on…
H.R. 3706 – The FHA Taxpayer Protection Act of 2009 was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services on October 1, 2009. This bill would require borrowers with FHA insured mortgages to make down payments of at least 5 percent of the purchase price and would prohibit rolling closing costs into the loan.
Currently, the minimum FHA down payment is 3.5 percent of the purchase price and closing costs can be rolled into an FHA loan.
In addition, the Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, Shaun Donovan on Wednesday outlined further plans to make sure FHA home buyers had more at stake and to put more money in the FHA’s reserves, which are extremely low at the moment.
Here are the highlights of the FHA policy proposal:
- Reduce the maximum allowable seller concessions from 6 percent of sales price to 3 percent
- Raise the minimum FICO score (aka credit score) required to qualify for an FHA loan from 620 to 640 (or more)
- Increase the up-front cash that a borrower has to bring to the table in an FHA backed loan
- Increase in the up-front mortgage insurance premium a buyer is required to pay
- Ask Congress to raise the annual mortgage premium a FHA buyer has to pay
And here’s a scary fact… The FHA can make most of these changes on their own with no additional authority or legislation required. Donovan claims that they will provide detail and public guidance for these changes by the end of January.
Consider this… The majority of loans in 2009 were FHA (about 80 percent of my buyer clients did FHA financing). If it gets harder to get an FHA mortgage, the number of home buyers could decrease. If that happens, the market could soften. And, on top of that, the extended and expanded home buyer federal tax credit expires March 31, which is about the same time that these new FHA mortgage guidelines would go into effect. The timing of both of those could make things interesting.
Changes to FHA guidelines going into affect January 1, 2009 will make it more expensive for borrowers to use FHA financing.
Current FHA guidelines require a borower to make a 3 percent total investment in a home purchase. A little more than 2 percent is required to go toward the down payment and the balance can go towards closing costs.
Beginning January 1, 2009, the minimum required investment will be 3.5 percent and the whole amount must go towards the down payment. This means that all of the closing costs will be required in addition to the 3.5 percent down payment.
There are also changes being made to the FHA streamline refinance program. For a complete list and explanation of those changes, check out this blog post over at fhaloanadvice.com.