It’s Here: Mortgage Rule Opens Door to Thousands of Condos

October 17, 2019
Buyers found a condo they loved only to find that it doesn’t qualify for a federally backed mortgage? Try again! New rules that open more condos and complexes to FHA loans went into effect on Oct. 15 – a break in condo-heavy Fla. for first-time buyers.

WASHINGTON – First-time homebuyers often opt for a condo, but rules for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans banned many units and complexes in Florida from participating.

However, that changed on Tuesday, Oct. 15, when updated FHA rules went into effect. The new FHA condominium approval regulation – and a new Condominium Project Approval section of the Single Family Housing Policy Handbook – are a comprehensive revision to FHA condominium project approval policy.

Of special interest in Florida, which has a lot of condo units, is a new policy that makes some individual condominium units eligible for FHA mortgage insurance even if the condominium project isn’t FHA approved.

The change is notably good for first-time buyers – 84% of FHA-backed condo buyers are first-timers.

“Florida is ground zero when it comes to condominium sales but these markets have been impacted by certain federal rules,” said 2019 Florida Realtors President Eric Sain, a Realtor and district sales manager with Illustrated Properties in Palm Beach, when the updated rule was published in the Federal Register. “The changes being proposed by HUD will go a long way in allowing flexibility in these markets and help more hard-working Americans achieve the dream of homeownership.”

National Association of Realtors® (NAR) President John Smaby said the FHA update “culminates years of collaboration between HUD and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).”

The new rule:

  • Introduces a new single-unit approval process to make it easier for individual condominium units to be eligible for FHA-insured financing
  • Extends the recertification requirement for approved condominium projects from two to three years
  • Allows more mixed-use projects to be eligible for FHA insurance

“Florida Realtors has been working with NAR on this matter for some time now, and we are excited to see the results of this work,” said Sain. “Many congratulations to NAR for staying diligent on the issue and communicating with members at HUD to explain the problem and find sensible solutions.”

The complete HUD regulation on FHA loans is posted online, and NAR produced a video that provides an overview of the changes.

© 2019 Florida Realtors®


Could Housing Strength Save a Wobbly U.S. Economy?

October 8, 2019
The U.S. housing market remains a bright spot despite economic fears, and continued housing strength could mitigate the pain of any potential slowdown.

WASHINGTON – While Americans show a growing concern about a potential economic slowdown, their worries don’t seem to affect the housing industry. Recent housing reports show that lower mortgage rates are buoying buyer demand into the fall months.

“Despite fears of an economic slowdown, the housing market continues to be a bright spot in the economy,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “While mortgage rates have ticked up in recent weeks, they remain lower than they were a year ago, which will help boost sales headed into the fall.”

Freddie’s forecast follows on the heels of several housing reports last week that suggested a solid housing market. Existing homes rose to the highest level in 17 months in August, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ latest report.

More new homes are entering the pipeline as well: Housing starts and building permits surged to a more than 12-year high in August, the U.S. Commerce Department reports. Further, for the second time in three months, new-home sales rose above 700,000 as more homebuyers consider new-home construction.

Freddie Mac economists predict that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will remain below 4% for the remainder of this year, which could continue to bode well for the housing market to ease affordability concerns somewhat for potential buyers. And along with lower mortgage rates, economists predict that home prices will also moderate, appreciating at 3.4% in 2019, which is in line with long-term growth.

With rising housing demand and a projected slight uptick in inventory, economists forecast that home sales this year will be slightly higher at 5.98 million in 2019 and next year reach near-2017 levels of 6.03 million.

Much of the high demand in the housing market lately has been coming from young adults.

“The millennial cohort has now entered the housing market in force and is already driving major changes in buying and selling patterns,” Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic, said in a statement about its latest housing index that showed home prices moderating. “Almost half of the millennials over 30 years old have bought a house in the last three years. These folks are increasingly looking to move out of urban centers in favor of the suburbs, which offers more privacy and a greener environment. Perhaps most significantly, almost 80% of all millennials are confident they will become homeowners in the future.”

Source: Freddie Mac

© Copyright 2019 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD


Congress Votes to Extend National Flood Insurance

October 1, 2019

WASHINGTON – Don’t expect a lapse – not yet anyway – in the National Flood Insurance Program, the country’s largest flood insurer. The program has been set to expire on Sept. 30, but the U.S. Senate recently passed an extension that would keep the program afloat until Nov. 21. The House had previously passed the extension.

The bill is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump.

This extension will mark the 13th time the program – which is billions of dollars in debt – has been rescued by lawmakers with extensions. The NFIP provides flood insurance coverage to 22,000 communities nationwide and protects property owners against loss from flooding, the most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S.

Federal law requires the purchase of flood insurance for a federally backed mortgage in special flood hazard areas designated by FEMA. Private flood insurance is also available in many high-risk areas, but the NFIP may be the only option for some homeowners.

Any lapse in NFIP funding could jeopardize up to 40,000 home sales a month, the National Association of Realtors® has warned in the past. NAR has long called on long-term reforms to the program. NAR supports reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program, including calls to strengthen flood mapping and mitigation and the development of more private-market flood insurance options.

Meteorologists warn that rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms will continue to threaten more areas with flooding.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

© 2019 Florida Realtors®