Feb 042017

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By G. Steven Bray

I’m sure you know by now that the Trump administration cancelled the FHA mortgage insurance rate reduction put forward in the waning days of Obama’s term. This caused moans from most of my housing industry friends, but I think it was the right move.

First, keep in mind that FHA MI provides insurance against defaulted FHA loans. By law, the insurance fund must be at least 2% of the FHA’s loan exposure. The fund last year exceeded the 2% threshold for the first time in many years. Given that economists are predicting a housing slowdown this year, wouldn’t it make more sense to let the fund grow a little before chopping the premium?

Second, I don’t believe the premium reduction would have resulted in many additional homebuyers. Instead, I think it simply would have transferred business from private mortgage insurance companies to FHA. I’ve never seen an honest analysis from HUD to justify its MI rates based on its risk exposure. Moreover, FHA also has up-front MI and never cancels its MI, unlike conventional loan mortgage insurance. If FHA wasn’t just trying to increase its market share, maybe it could have tweaked those characteristics.

In conclusion, I’m not convinced the move by the outgoing administration wasn’t intended to make the incoming team look bad. Personally, I think it makes them look prudent.

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