Officials: Beware Of Scammers, How To Get Help After Hurricane Ian

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency are warning survivors of Hurricane Ian they should be aware of con artists and criminals looking to take advantage of the situation. Predators may promise homeowners a disaster grant in return for payment or fill out an application for assistance without a person’s knowledge, according to the FEMA website. “If a FEMA Inspector comes to your home and you did not submit a FEMA application, your information may have been used without your knowledge to create a FEMA application. If so, please inform the inspector that you did not apply for FEMA assistance so they can submit a request to stop further processing of the application,” the website says. People…

Labor Day Blues: Can The Average American Worker Afford To Buy A House?

By KIMBERLEY HAAS This Labor Day weekend, some workers are wondering what happened to the American Dream of earning enough from a nine-to-five job to buy their own home — with or without the white picket fence.  According to officials at the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the median sales price of a new home in July 2022 was $439,400. The thumbnail measurement for home affordability is a house that costs roughly 2.6 years of your household income, or a 2.6 “price-to-income ratio.” Using the 2.6 price-to-income ratio, your household’s earners would need to bring in $169,000 a year to be able to afford a new home. That is higher than most U.S.…

Inflation Hits Builders As America Faces Housing Crisis

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The executive director of the New Hampshire Home Builders Association says the biggest problem they are currently facing is unstable prices due to inflation. In a recent interview with The Mortgage Note, Matt Mayberry explained that contractors are trying to stay within their budgets on projects but it is difficult because prices are volatile due to inflation and supply chain issues. It’s also difficult to bid on upcoming work. “How do we estimate jobs correctly? What are the metrics we use to do this?” Mayberry said. One thing that has improved, Mayberry said, is the waiting time for projects to be completed. During the pandemic, many projects were pushed out to a year and a half for…

“It Would Defy Logic”: Advocates Push Back Against TD-First Horizon Merger

Consumer advocates and Democratic leaders are asking U.S. regulatory bodies to block TD Bank’s takeover of First Horizon Bank. The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) and Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund sent a letter to the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency asking them to reject a proposed merger between TD Bank and First Horizon Bank. Their letter highlights reasons why regulators should stop the merger, pointing out misconduct by TD Bank and an “exacerbation of the ‘too-big-to-fail’ problem.” Other advocacy groups signed the letter in support. Toronto-Dominion Bank, a Canadian company, announced a plan earlier this year to acquire Memphis, TN-based First Horizon for $13.4 billion in cash. The Bank Merger Act requires the…

Brady: Housing Inflation Crushing American Dream

By KIMBERLEY HAAS A U.S. Congressman serving the 8th district of Texas says housing inflation is crushing the American dream for families. During a hearing, Ways and Means Republican Leader Rep. Kevin Brady said American families and workers are finding that President Joe Biden’s economy is “cruel.” “Working women haven’t had it this bad in decades. The dangerous baby formula shortage, rising crime, and inflation, and now housing they can barely afford to live in. Just as with crushing gas prices, Democrats in Washington are blaming everyone under the sun for the cruel rise in housing costs: builders, local investors and developers who make the construction of new homes and neighborhoods a reality,” Brady said. He added, “Republicans have held…

Industry Applauds Confirmation Of Julia Gordon As FHA Commissioner

In a narrow victory decided by a tie-breaking vote, Julia Gordon has been confirmed by the Senate as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). President Biden nominated Gordon to the position in June. Her nomination to the Senate for a vote didn’t happen in 2021, forcing President Biden to re-nominate her. This time around, Gordon was confirmed by a 51-50 vote in the Senate after a tie was broken by Vice President Kamala Harris. Gordon most recently served as president of the National Community Stabilization Trust, a nonprofit organization that promotes neighborhood revitalization and housing affordability.  Gordon previously served as Senior Director of Housing and Consumer…

Biden-Harris Tackle Equity In Lending And Appraisals

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Vice President Kamala Harris joined officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday to announce the delivery of a plan designed to dismantle racial bias in the home lending and appraisal process. The Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE) Action Plan submitted to President Joe Biden will, when enacted, represent the most wide-ranging set of reforms ever put forward to advance equity in the home appraisal process, according to a press release. During her speech, Harris described how a home ensures future financial security and peace of mind for families. “Imagine a young couple that saves enough money to put a down payment on a home. The day they…

Invasion Of Ukraine, Inflation To Take Toll On U.S. Housing Sector

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its implications for the global economy have some experts saying the housing market in the United States will be impacted because of growing inflation pressures and supply chain difficulties. The Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research Group now projects full-year 2022 real gross domestic product growth of 2.3%, down from last month’s projection of 2.8%. They have also increased their 30-year fixed mortgage rate forecast to 3.8% in 2022 and 3.9% in 2023. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Just before the war began, inflation hit a 40-year high and the Federal Reserve was poised to begin a course of significant money tightening. According to the ESR Group, the task of enacting…

Economist: Build Back Better Will Put Downward Pressure on Housing Prices

By SCOTT KIMBLER The House version of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan includes about $170 billion for affordable housing and people are asking what that means. Biden’s spending plan includes $65 billion to preserve and rebuild public housing and another $15 billion to help build or preserve more than 150,000 rental properties for lower-income families. It’s part of the administration’s goal to build or preserve 1 million affordable homes. The bill is almost certain to change drastically in the U.S. Senate. But if the housing policies remain unchanged, what would this spending splurge mean for the overall housing market, at a time when prices are high and supply is low? The Mortgage Note spoke with Tom Smith, Ph.D. of…

Mortgage Applications Up From September, Down YOY

Mortgage applications for new home purchases fell 15.2% year-over-year (YOY) in October but increased 6% month-over-month (MOM), according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) latest Builder Application Survey. The increase from September puts MBA’s estimate of new home sales at its strongest pace since January 2021. “Purchase activity continues to be dominated by higher loan balance transactions, which pushed the average new home loan size up to over $412,000, another new record in the survey,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting.  “Recent U.S. Census data show an increasing share of new sales are for homes yet to be built or still under construction, and a shrinking share of completed homes. Housing demand remains strong,…