Andrew Lofton Named HUD Northwest Administrator

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development named Andrew Lofton as Regional Administrator for the Northwest, according to a press release. Lofton will oversee HUD operations in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, representing the department while working with state and local officials on housing issues. “It is an honor to serve the Biden Harris Administration and the people in the great Northwest, where I am blessed to call home,” said Lofton. Lofton lives in Washinton, where he was born. He will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of HUD programs and services to these states while evaluating their efficiency and effectiveness. “We are excited to welcome Andrew Lofton as the Regional Administrator for HUD’s Northwest Region,” said Acting Secretary…

Could Portable Mortgages Thaw A Frozen Housing Market?

By ERIN FLYNN JAY The concept of mortgage porting, or transferring the terms of an existing loan over to a new property, has gained popularity as Americans locked into low interest rates try to figure out ways to navigate the current housing market. It is estimated that trading up to a 25% more expensive home would more than double the average mortgage holder’s monthly payment at current interest rates. Even moving to a similarly-priced home in the same neighborhood would increase principal and interest payments by 40%. Advocates for portable mortgages say if homeowners could keep their current interest rates, they would be more likely to sell their homes and buy a new one. That, in turn, would help unfreeze…

Rent Control Proposal For Subsidized Housing Meets Opposition

The Biden administration’s move to cap rent increases for affordable housing units has split support in the industry. Officials announced last week that the administration will impose a 10% cap on YOY rent increases for property owners who are part of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. Currently, LIHTC allows increases of 5% or double the percentage change in national median income, whichever is higher. The proposal would limit rent increases on these properties to no more than 10% annually, doing away with the income change option. Proponents say the plan would help stabilize housing for low-income Americans reliant on subsidized housing. “The decision to prevent egregious rent increases is an important win for the millions of renters living in…

Feds Hold Rates Steady As Spring Homebuying Season Begins

By KIMBERLEY HAAS In a move that was not surprising, members of the Federal Open Market Committee held the target range for the federal funds rate steady at 5.25% to 5.5% at their meeting this week. Inflation has eased over the past year but committee members do not believe it will be appropriate to reduce rates until they have gained more confidence inflation is moving sustainably toward 2%, which has been their goal. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that inflation may not reach 2% until 2026 but it is likely rates have hit their peak and the committee plans to start dialing them back at some point this year. Powell did not…

NAR Settlement Poses Challenge For VA Buyers

Huge changes to Realtors’ commission structures may disadvantage VA buyers, at least in the short term. A $418 million settlement announced by the National Association of Realtors last week is set to have sweeping implications for the housing industry in general. If approved by a federal judge, it would undo NAR’s commission structure, which is typically between 5.5% and 6% and split between buyer’s and seller’s agents. Under the terms of the settlement, moving forward sellers will be expected to negotiate with real estate professionals, and buyers will have to enter into agreements with, and pay for, their own realtors. For some buyers, this may translate into a cheaper overall experience, depending on what is negotiated for as part of…

Fed Not Likely To Cut Rates Anytime Soon

By PATRICK LAVERY Kicking the can down the road, moving the goalposts – whatever idiom you want to use – such an expression will likely be appropriate for this week’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, which appears poised to hold the target range for the federal funds rate steady at 5.25% to 5.5%. While that margin has not been raised since last summer, there has been hope that at some point in 2024, Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell will come to the microphone at the conclusion of one of the FOMC’s two-day summits and announce the beginning of a rollback of the series of rate hikes that steadily climbed from near-zero in early 2022 to their current…

Fudge Resigns As HUD Secretary

Marcia L. Fudge, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is unexpectedly resigning due to personal circumstances. Her exit comes after three years at HUD’s helm, having served for almost all of the Biden presidency.  Fudge attributed her decision to her 92-year-old mother, with whom she wants to spend more time, and says she has no plans to run for office again. “It’s time to go home,” Fudge told USA Today. “I do believe strongly that I have done just about everything I could do at HUD for this administration as we go into this crazy, silly season of an election.” Fudge will be just one of a few cabinet members to leave the Biden administration, giving…

Housing Costs Will Affect Voters In November

More than half of homeowners and renters will partly base their choice for President on housing affordability. That’s according to a new survey commissioned by Redfin and conducted by Qualtrics last month.  The survey found that 53.2% of respondents will be informed by housing in November’s presidential election. On top of that, 64.2% of homeowners and renters said the state of housing makes them feel negative about the economy.  “Housing affordability is top of mind for voters because elevated mortgage rates and home prices, along with an acute housing shortage, have pushed the dream of homeownership out of reach for many Americans,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather.  Analysts say the economy is actually doing well by many metrics, but…

Biden Addresses Housing Crisis In State Of The Union

President Biden used the State of the Union address Thursday to tackle the nation’s housing crisis and propose big plans to boost activity. “I know the cost of housing is so important to you. If inflation keeps coming down, mortgage rates will come down as well. But I’m not waiting,” he said in the address. The administration proposed a mortgage relief plan providing first-time homebuyers an annual credit of $5,000 for two years, effectively a $10,000 mortgage rate buydown that would save as much money as a 1.5% rate reduction. Another credit, aimed at current homeowners, would offer a one-year, $10,000 credit to families who sell their starter homes, helping to turn inventory over. More than 3.5 million middle-class buyers…

The Racial Homeownership Gap Is Worst For Black Millennials

While the racial homeownership gap exists in every generation, Black Millennials have it worse off than any other age group. That’s according to a new analysis from Redfin, which found that just one-third of Black Millennials own their home (33%), compared to 65% of white Millennials, the largest divide of any generation. By comparison, 52% of Black Gen Xers own their home, compared to 80% of white Gen Xers. Six in ten Black Boomers own their home, while 85% of white Boomers do. White and Black adult Gen Zers own their homes at rates around 30% and 16%, respectively – not as bad as the Millennial divide, but still significant. Black Americans face challenges ranging from the impact of racist…