HUD Weighs Smoking Ban in Public Housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is inching closer to making public housing completely smoke-free.

Last year, HUD announced its intention to ban properties of having tobacco-based products, saying the dangers of second-hand smoke prompted such action.

HUD Secretary Julián Castro and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy announced a proposed rule this week to make the nation’s public housing properties completely smoke-free. If approved, that would require 3,100 public housing agencies to ban smoking within 18 months. The agencies would be required to initiate policies that prohibit lit tobacco products in all living units, indoor common areas, and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative office buildings.

HUD is currently seeking public comment on the proposed rule for the next 60 days.

Source: “HUD Is About to Ban Smoking in Housing,” HousingWire (Nov. 12, 2015)

HUD, FHA Urge Home Inspections

Starting Sept. 14, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is including a mandate that instructs lenders to inform borrowers when they first meet to get a home inspection prior to purchasing a home. The mandate will be added to the HUD/Federal Housing Administration Single Family Policy Handbook and will include a document called “For Your Protection, Get a Home Inspection.”

“We are proud to provide critical inspection information for this handbook to help home buyers protect themselves,” says Frank Lesh, American Society of Home Inspectors, executive director. “Owning a home is one of the biggest financial investments in a person’s life, and a home inspection can help prevent costly problems.”  We agree!

Source: “HUD and FHA Urge Buyers to Have Homes Inspected Before Purchase,” RISMedia (Aug. 31, 2015)

Government shutdown “Won’t Shut Down FHA”

In what appears to be a reversal of an earlier position stated last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Office of Single Family Housing will continue to endorse new loans “in order to support the health and stability of the U.S. mortgage market” should there be a lapse in appropriations, the agency said in its latest contingency plan.

“The single-family aspect of FHA is funded through multiyear appropriations,” a HUD spokesman told Inman News. Therefore, while there will be some reductions in staff and furloughs, that part of the FHA will be able to operate,  “at a slower pace,” he said.

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HUD, VA Help 9,000 Homeless Vets Find Homes

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs have teamed up to provide housing for about 9,000 homeless veterans nationwide who live on the streets or in shelters.

HUD and the VA will provide $60 million to local public housing agencies to distribute the grants to homeless vets that will provide rental assistance. The vets participating will be able to rent privately owned housing and will contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.

“Our veterans have answered the call of duty,” says HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “That’s why our nation has its own duty — to help homeless servicemen and women rejoin the very communities they have given so much to protect. These grants make it possible to help more veterans obtain housing, bringing us steps closer to our goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.”

According to data by HUD and VA, a single night in January 2012 showed that 62,619 veterans were homeless.

Source: “HUD and VA Team up: Provide Homes to 9,000 Homeless Vets,” RISMedia (June 1, 2013)

U.S. Census, HUD release “American Housing Survey”

The U.S. Census Bureau and HUD recently released the 2011 American Housing Survey, a biennual comprehensive national housing survey that provides data on housing inventories, demographics, home improvements, mortgages, and more.

The 2011 survey indicates that almost 20 percent of new home owners chose their neighborhood based on convenience to the workplace. 

The poll of the nation’s 115 million occupied homes also reveals the median size of single-family detached and mobile residences to be 1,800 square feet — versus 2,200 square feet for newly built homes — and the median year of construction for owner-occupied units to be 1976. 

Sixty-four percent of homes have three or more bedrooms and 52 % have two or more bathrooms. In terms of accessibility, 64 % have floors with no steps between rooms, 48 % have entry-level bathrooms, and 36 % have entry-level bedrooms. 

The survey also found that 20 % of recent movers located their current homes through a real estate agent, 17 % through, and 16 % by word-of-mouth. Additionally, households spend about 24% of their household income on housing.

This data and more is now available for the first time through the U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder data access tool. Please review data and provide your comments!

Source: “HUD and Census Bureau Expand Access to Include Housing Info” National Mortgage Professional (01/04/13)

“Housing Recovery” tied to Mortgage Debt Levels!

Extending tax relief on debt forgiveness is “a high priority,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing Thursday. His remarks come at a time when buyers are being drawn back to the housing market thanks to low mortgage rates and other factors.

Prices are rising because the number of foreclosures is declining and underwater borrowers are getting a break, as banks slash the balances of thousands of mortgages and let home owners sell for less than the value of their loans rather than go into foreclosure. Please comments about this and reflections of your market?

Source: “Housing Recovery Depends on Slashing Mortgage Debt,” (Dec. 6, 2012)

Wells Fargo stops granting extensions for short sales

A move that will expedite foreclosures? 

“Mary Berg, a spokeswoman for Wells, said its new policy on short sales was put in place “over the past couple of months . in response to various investor changes.”Those investors, she said, “would include the GSEs, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and those investing in private-label” MBS.

“It makes no business sense why they are doing this, since it’s wrong for the borrowers and for the government,” said Eli Tene, chief executive of IShortSale, a Woodland Hills, Calif., firm that advises distressed borrowers. 

Wells said it will make an exception to the new policy for loans in its own portfolio, which includes those it acquired with Wachovia Corp. in 2008. For these loans, Berg said, Wells allows for one foreclosure postponement, provided the following: it has an approved short sale in hand that includes approvals from junior lienholders and mortgage insurers; the buyer has proof of funds or approved financing; and the short sale can close within 30 days of the scheduled foreclosure sale.

HUD announces nationwide “first-look program”

The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development recently announced a new agreement with the nation’s top mortgage lenders to offer select state and local governments, including California, and nonprofit organizations a “first look” or right of first refusal to purchase foreclosed homes before making the properties available to private investors.

The National First Look Program is the first-ever public-private partnership agreement between HUD and the National Community Stabilization Trust and is intended to give communities participating in HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program  a brief exclusive opportunity to purchase bank-owned properties in certain neighborhoods so the homes can be rehabilitated, rented, resold, or demolished. 

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FHA premium increases postponed to Oct. 4

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced last week it is pushing back the implementation date for new premium structures on FHA-insured mortgages to Oct. 4 from the original date of Sept. 7. 

Following FHA Commissioner David Stevens’ recent announcement that up-front premiums for FHA-insured mortgages would be reduced beginning Sept. 7 from 2.25 percent to 1 percent, lenders expressed concerns that they would need more than five weeks to update loan disclosures and computer systems.

FHA previously raised up-front premiums from 1.75 percent to 2.25 percent in April to cope with rising losses on FHA-guaranteed loans. The Obama administration promised to reduce up-front premiums if Congress gave it the authority to raise annual premiums beyond their statutory limit of 0.55 percent.  HR 5981, legislation raising the statutory limit on annual premiums to 1.55 percent, was approved by lawmakers on Aug. 4 and has been signed by President Obama. 

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