New Veteran Mortgage Assistance Program Kicks Off This Week

A new federal program meant to assist veterans pay their mortgages kicks off this week, seeking to help veteran homeowners maintain their mortgages after more than a year of the SARS-Cov-2 crisis. The VA Partial Claim Payment Program is meant to “assist Veteran borrowers specifically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to resume making their regular (pre-COVID) mortgage payments after exiting forbearance,” the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs says on its website. The program, which went into effect on Tuesday, July 27, is set to last until October of last year. Participants must have a VA-backed loan and must have missed at least one mortgage payment since March of last year. The VA says that for qualifying homeowners it will purchase…

Governments Scramble to Help Homeowners, Renters Make Payments, Stay in Homes. Will it be Enough?

Governments throughout the United States are pushing a rash of programs meant to help homeowners and renters make mortgage and rent payments. It’s part of a broad effort to stave off a potential housing crisis that some experts warn is looming over the U.S.  Whether or not those measures will be enough remains to be seen. But both state governments and Washington are betting those billions in funding, as well as targeted housing policies, will forestall economic disruption at a time when the economy is just getting back on track after more than a year of a pandemic.  The Biden administration this week launched a loan modification program that will “allow borrowers to move missed payments to the end of the mortgage…

Does Your State Have an Extended Eviction Moratorium Past July? Check and See.

The federal eviction moratorium is set to expire on July 31, raising the prospect of many thousands of renters and homeowners potentially being removed from their homes after months of being unable to make payment amid the SARS-Cov-2 crisis. Yet several states have passed their own eviction moratoriums that extend well past the expiration of the federal measure. Legal publisher Nolo has published a rundown of eviction measures in all 50 states, including which states are offering protection to tenets after the end of this month. Check and see what your state’s rules are here. Some states, such as California and New Jersey, have eviction moratoriums that last at least months after the end of the federal measure. Many others…

Biden Administration Offers Loan Modification Program To Keep Forbearance Low

The Biden administration has announced a new measure meant to keep homeowners out of mortgage forbearance, offering loan modification options for the holders of certain mortgages. The federal government will require the issuers of some mortgages “to offer options that allow borrowers to move missed payments to the end of the mortgage at no additional cost to the borrower,” the White House said in a statement. The administration also announced additional measures such as a homeowner assistance fund as well as “a new security product for modified loans that would provide government agencies the flexibility to extend mortgage terms to up to 40 years.” “Homeowners with government-backed mortgages that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic will now receive enhanced…

Governments Reportedly Struggle to Distribute Rent Aid Ahead of ‘Eviction Crisis’

State and local officials have reportedly struggled to distribute tens of billions of dollars in rent aid ahead of the expiration of the federal eviction moratorium at the end of this month, a problem which could lead to what commentators are warning will be an “eviction crisis.” “Bureaucratic bottlenecks” have reportedly ensnared significant portions of the $47 billion in rental aid disbursed by the federal government, the Wall Street Journal reports. Though a small handful of states will continue their own eviction moratoriums past July, the vast majority will not. “We will see a historic wave of evictions and housing instability this summer and fall,” one advocate told the Journal. A scant $3 billion in aid had been delivered as…

Federal Race-Based Lending Proposal Brings Threat of Lawsuits

A federal proposal to tie housing aid to one’s race is raising the looming prospect of lawsuits. The Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021 would offer grants to homebuyers of up to $20,000, but an additional $5,000 would be available to “a qualified homebuyer who is a socially and economically disadvantaged individual.” The law defines such qualifying buyers as individuals within demographics “whose members have historically been subjected to racial or ethnic discrimination within the United States.” The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty told the Washington Times that it was all-but-certain to sue the federal government if the provision was passed. “If challenged in court, the agency implementing this policy would have a difficult time justifying this program, and…

Interest Rates Are Higher Under Biden. Good News or Bad?

The hot talk in Washington is about inflation, not interest rates. “We’re experiencing a big uptick in inflation, bigger than many expected, bigger certainly than I expected, and we’re trying to understand whether it’s something that will pass through fairly quickly or whether, in fact, we need to act,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the Senate Banking Committee last week. Meanwhile, U.S. mortgage interest rates have risen since President Joe Biden took office in January according to Federal Reserve data. On the day he was inaugurated, the 30-year fixed rate was around 2.75 percent. By April 1, it had risen to 3.18 — its highest level since June of last year. Rates have been gradually declining since then but have…

How Local Zoning Rules Can Drive Up the Price of Housing Stock

Prospective homebuyers looking to snag a modest home for less than the price of a motor yacht might consider an unlikely tactic: Petitioning their municipal council. Local zoning rules can have a significant effect on home purchases, with regulations often restricting the number of houses that can be built and thus driving up the price of remaining house stock. The Austin American-Statesman reports this week on that city council’s intention to revisit local zoning rules; the paper says that the “last comprehensive rewrite to land use rules [in the city] was completed in 1984.” Current rules have restricted building practices within Austin itself, driving housing stock down and prices skyward. As with many cities in recent years, bitter fighting in…

Federal Judge Tosses CDC Eviction Ban

A federal court on Wednesday tossed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ban on evicting tenants who do not pay their rent during the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the health agency lacks the authority to issue such a moratorium. The U.S. Department of Justice announced it would appeal the decision. In a suit filed by the Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors and others, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that “the plain language of the Public Health Service Act … unambiguously forecloses the nationwide eviction moratorium.” “The Court recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious public health crisis that has presented unprecedented challenges for public health officials and the nation as a whole,” Judge…

Feds Remind Landlords Of Eviction Ban

By Jim Perskie The federal government on Monday sent letters to the nation’s largest apartment landlords warning them to honor federal rules preventing renters from being evicted for non-payment of rent during the pandemic. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission reminded landlords that the temporary moratorium on evictions is in place through the end of June. “Landlords should ensure that FDCPA-covered debt collectors working on their behalf, which may include attorneys, notify tenants of their rights under federal law. Nearly nine million households are at risk of eviction due to the economic effects of COVID-19, but no one should lose their home without understanding their rights,” CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio said. “We will hold accountable debt…