COVID-Era Programs Are Ending, but Analysts Don’t See a ‘Forbearance Cliff’ in the Future

With COVID-era forbearance programs coming to an end, some housing activists warned of an approaching flood in forbearance filings. But so far, that hasn’t happened, and the signs are good that forbearance rates will remain low. The end of government forbearance protections is indeed causing an increase in the number of foreclosure filings. ATTOM’s latest Foreclosure Market Report, for Q3 2021, finds scheduled auctions or bank repossessions are up 34% from the previous quarter and 68% from a year ago. However, those increases are from historic lows, as forbearance relief artificially lowered the numbers. In fact, there were just 45,517 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in the quarter. “Despite the increased level of foreclosure activity in September, we’re still far…

Nearly 60% Of Single Women Don’t See Homeownership In Their Futures

Women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, but none more so than single women. After Covid-19 ravaged their work and home lives, almost 60% of single female heads of household (SFHOH) now say they don’t see homeownership in their futures, a Freddie Mac survey found. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had disparate economic impacts nationwide, particularly on women who are heads of their households, such as single moms and caretakers,” said Pam Perry, Single-Family Vice President of Equitable Housing. “In this survey, we discovered this population’s housing and financial challenges have been further complicated by pandemic-related workplace disruptions and current economic conditions. While the survey showed some feel confident in their knowledge of finances and building credit, many lack confidence…

Analysis: Do Low-Income Home Buyer Programs Help or Hurt?

Homeownership for low-income Americans is a major policy plank for countless political leaders, as well as an intensively studied issue among nonprofit and research organizations. The interest is unsurprising: Getting more people at all income levels into homeownership is broadly seen as a net positive for a nation’s economic and social health.  In recent years, programs hoping to help low-income buyers enter the market have proliferated throughout the lending industry. Targeted loans, favorable rates, and other measures are designed to boost homebuying among those not in the top echelon of earners.  But do those programs work? Many industry leaders seem to believe so. Last week Freddie Mac announced a “multi-billion affordable housing bond program,” one that “provides a 3% down…

Should Homebuyers Care About Debt Ceiling Debate?

When President Joe Biden was trying to pressure Republicans into supporting Democrats’ efforts to raise the debt ceiling, he warned of ominous outcomes should the effort fail. “People may see the value of their retirement accounts shrink. They may see interest rates go up, which will ultimately raise their mortgage payments and car payments,” Biden said. Is that true? Political pundits on both sides of the aisle appear to agree the debt ceiling will get lifted, one way or another. “It has to be done, it will be done. The debt ceiling will be raised,” Fox News’ commentator Brit Hume said Monday night. “This will get done.” But what if something goes wrong in Washington, DC — hardly an unusual…

REPORT: High Rents Forcing Teachers, Nurses Into Smaller, Older Homes

Lack of affordable housing is forcing in-person workers like teachers and nurses into smaller, older homes, according to a Zillow report. While remote work has allowed some people to buy upscale homes in more affordable markets, workers in occupations that require in-person work are left to deal with rising rent and home prices. Those left behind are often forced to live with roommates or in a less desirable home.  “Many renters have been able to keep costs low even as prices have grown over the past several years, but merely affording rent does not mean they are thriving,” said Zillow economic data analyst Nicole Bachaud. “A deeper look shows a big slice of the market is out of reach for…

Yellen, Powell: Higher Inflation on the Way

Two of the Biden administration’s top finance officials are warning that inflation is on the rise and is likely to linger, which could have an impact on the cost of both houses and the mortgages needed to buy them. During testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen acknowledged that inflation is rising twice as fast as the 2% she had predicted. “Probably closer to 4% and that already almost must be the case based on what’s happened this year,” she told Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) “Inflation is elevated and will likely remain so in coming months before moderating,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in his opening statement. When asked if the inflation problem is more significant than…

What Does Debt-Limit Fight Mean for Mortgage Rates?

Economists and housing industry experts are keeping a close eye on Washington D.C.’s debate over raising the debt ceiling and what it might mean for interest rates. Congressional Democrats are heading into what even Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledges is a turbulent week or two, in which her party will attempt to use its narrow majorities to pass two massive spending bills. At the same time, Washington’s about to hit the limit of debt it can issue to keep paying its bills. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the nation will run up against the debt ceiling sometime in October. Democrats are demanding the GOP follow the tradition of previous debt-ceiling votes and support an increase. Republicans, angry over the Democrats’ decision…

LIFT Act Proposes 20-Year-Fixed-Rate Mortgages For First-Time Buyers

New legislation introduced in the Senate, known as the “Low-income First Time Homebuyer (LIFT) Act,” proposes creating a new 20-year-fixed-rate mortgage program through Ginnie Mae, subsidized by taxpayers. First-time, first-generation homebuyers with an income equal to or less than 120% of the area median income would qualify. Ginnie Mae, along with the Department of the Treasury, would subsidize the interest rate and origination fees for these 20-year mortgages. The result would be a monthly bill in line with a new 30-year FHA-insured mortgage. The bill is sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Jon Ossoff (D-GA). All except Sen. Kaine are members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and…

HUD, FHFA ‘Correct’ Stance on Freddie Purchasing Mortgages Secured by Group Homes

The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a joint statement Wednesday addressing an “incorrect” policy regarding Freddie Mac’s ability to purchase mortgages secured by a property owned by an individual and rented to a group home for persons with disabilities. “The clarifications follow a HUD investigation of a mortgage lender who had refused to lend to a homeowner that was renting their property to a company that was operating a group home,” the joint statement reads. “The lender’s refusal was based on the incorrect belief that Freddie Mac would not agree to buy the mortgage. After HUD reported this misunderstanding to Freddie Mac and FHFA, Freddie Mac worked with both…

DOJ, FTC Investigate Real Estate Commission Policies

Home sale commissions are under investigation by the Biden administration, which has asked the Federal Trade Commission to adopt rules to address any unfair practices it sees in the real estate industry, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Justice Department is investigating commissions after several civil lawsuits challenging industry rules passed muster in procedural challenges. Critics of traditional broker fees say rising home prices have highlighted an epidemic of excessive fees. Real estate agent fees are typically 5%-6% of the sale price. Homebuyers end up paying part of these fees through the purchase price but have little control over fees because they are set by the seller. Consumer advocates have specifically pointed to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) rules…