Trending Thursday is a roundup of the stories shaping the week and what’s yet to come through the weekend — also taking into account social media reaction. Think of it as a midweek Monday Morning Cup of Coffee, but with extra caffeine.
So there’s good news, and there’s bad news. Depends on where you’re standing which is which.
MarketWatch reports that borrowers with cheaper Federal Housing Administration mortgages are buying pricier homes. While that surely makes Realtors smile, and it’s a talking point for the ever-smiling secretary running the Department of Housing & Urban Development, there may be consequences. Consequences and repercussions.
A cost cut for federally-insured mortgages may have led purchasers to pay more for homes, while doing little to widen the pool of borrowers, according to a draft of soon-to-be released research.
“By bringing our premiums down, we’re helping folks lift themselves up so they can open new doors of opportunity and strengthen their financial futures,” said Secretary Julián Castro of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
But Edward Pinto, a housing expert with the American Enterprise Institute, is sounding the alarm that FHA borrowers are using premium-cut savings to buy pricier properties.
Further, Pinto said FHA has picked up borrowers who mostly would otherwise have taken loans backed by other federally controlled mortgage programs.
“FHA’s action did little to expand access to middle-and lower-wealth borrowers,” Pinto wrote. “Instead the benefits were largely captured by the National Association of Realtors and other housing-interest groups, as the premium cut was largely capitalized into the purchase of higher priced homes.”
Speaking of good news and bad news, while the housing market is finally blooming — it usually lags the rest of the economy — early signs are showing that the economy may not be as strong as the cheerleading set would have you believe.
Things are shaky enough that interest rate hikes, just six months ago considered a sure thing in 2015, are increasingly questionable, and now jobless claims are showing a troublesome trend.
Initial jobless claims have surged almost 30,000 in the last two weeks and are nearing the 300,000 trouble mark, coming in this morning at 297,000. This is the worst jobless report since mid-February and well above the levels that occurred at the end of the third quarter. More concerning, the continuing claims marker continues to rise, hitting its highest since March, and well above expectations for the seventh week in a row.
Mark your calendars: The Bipartisan Policy Center will host a timely discussion on reforming the nation’s housing finance system with U.S. Representatives Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, and John Delaney, D-Md., both members of the Financial Services Committee. It will be Thursday, July 16, 2015 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. ET.
The conversation will be moderated by Nick Timiraos, national economics correspondent with The Wall Street Journal. The event will be held at the BPC HQ in Washington, and available live on the Internets.
September marks the seventh anniversary of the government conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The discussion will focus on the possibility of Congress enacting comprehensive legislation this term, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s potential administrative steps, including expanding risk-sharing activities between GSEs and private investors, and developing a common securitization platform, to laying the foundation for reform.
Two mortgage companies – First Niagara and Carrington Mortgage – said they will adopt a set of best practices to help combat the neighborhood blight and economic damage caused by vacant and abandoned "zombie properties” which plague New York. That makes13 banks and mortgage companies representing approximately 70% of the New York market have now agreed to adopt these best practices.
"Ensuring that abandoned properties do not fall into extreme disrepair keeps neighborhoods lively and prevents taxpayers from carrying the expense," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "Mortgage companies can take simple steps and use best practices to help this problem, and I applaud the two businesses today who have committed to doing so."
Under these best practices, the banks and mortgage companies will regularly inspect properties that fall into delinquency to determine if they are vacant and abandoned, and make sure that those properties are safe and properly maintained, among other measures. The banks and mortgage companies will also report properties determined to be vacant and abandoned to a state registry that will be developed by the New York State Department of Financial Services.
Finally, remember way back to yesterday when the NYSE blew a fuse/gasket/Interweb? Our own Ben Lane, he with a golden Wonka ticket award for his magazine writing, pretty much kicked off a trend on the Twitter by digging up a reference that's near and dear to all of us at HousingWire.
And here's that Buzzfeed article.