Archive for the ‘Mortgage Lenders’ Category

Lack of financing may derail growing housing investments

July 28, 2011


Investors are a driving force in the housing market, but their enthusiasm is constrained by limited financing options with more investors forced to pay cash for their homes as debt-driven financing remains restricted. And with housing supply only set to increase, the ability of these investors to absorb the overhang may substantially decrease.

Primary activity in the nation’s key housing markets is made up of a significant portion of hard cash buyers operating in the distressed property space. Of this number, only 40% or so are estimated to have access to excess capital.

Seventy-five percent of investor transactions last month were financed with cash, according to researchers who compiled the Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey. While investors are welcomed into the market for keeping sales flowing, an earlier report from HousingPulse warned investor cash levels would eventually be depleted, leaving the market in the hands of first-time homebuyers — many of whom no longer qualify for credit because of tightened underwriting guidelines.

Looking forward, researchers who compiled the report expect home prices to dip further in 2011 due to limited financing options for investors and a growing gap between the supply of distressed properties and sagging demand from first-time buyers. One market source interviewed by the firm expects price declines of at least another 10%.

"The fact that the recent rebound in existing home sales has been predominantly driven by cash buyers and investors places a question mark over the sustainability of that rebound," said Paul Dales, U.S. housing analyst for Capital Economics, back in March. "The concern is that there may be a limited pool of such buyers and that first-time buyers will not be able to fill any void."

The survey showed the proportion of first-time homebuyers in the housing market dropped to 35.4% in June, compared to 37.3% in May. At the same time, the HousingPulse Distressed Property Index dropped to 44.7% in June from 46.7% in May. Even with distressed properties clearing the market,  HousingPulse noted "the gap between first-time homebuyers and distressed property supply was 9.3 percentage points in June," suggesting that housing supply far exceeds demand.

Not to mention, the market remains fearful of the eventual unleashing of the growing shadow inventory of foreclosed and short sale properties.

In the report, Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance quotes an anonymous California real estate agent as saying "there are tens of thousands of homes that have not even received a notice of default that have not made a mortgage payment in months or years."

The same agent said there will not be a bottom until the "economy turns in earnest and or the default inventory is exhausted."

The study concluded that investors have played a significant role since the end of the homebuyer tax credit by accounting for more than 20% of home purchases on average.

Middle-class Americans seem to believe the dire forecast about home prices and future sales, and remain unlikely to meaningfully get into moving up the property ladder, much less buying second homes.

Sixty-three percent of citizens surveyed for the First Command Financial Behaviors Index believe America is already in a double-dip recession, About 55% of those Americans who see the nation in the grips of a double-dip recession consider the weak housing market to be one of the key causes.

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HUD Selects Lenders to Participate in New Pilot Program to Help Homeowners Pay for Home Energy Improvements

April 28, 2011

Eighteen national, regional and local lenders will participate in a new two-year pilot program that will offer qualified borrowers living in certain parts of the country low-cost loans to make energy-saving improvements to their homes. Backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), these new PowerSaver loans will offer homeowners up to $25,000 to make energy-efficient improvements of their choice, including the installation of insulation, duct sealing, replacement doors and windows, HVAC systems, water heaters, solar panels, and geothermal systems.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the participating lenders during a tour of a family-run company that offers home energy audits and upgrades in Long Island, New York.

“We believe the market is right for a low-cost financing option for families who want energy-saving technologies in their home,” says Secretary Donovan. “PowerSaver hits on all cylinders by helping credit-worthy homeowners finance these upgrades, cut their energy bills and boost the local job market in the process. While FHA and these lenders are jumpstarting this pilot, we hope its success will lead to a growing private sector interest in making these types of loans.”

Secretary Chu announces “we are breaking down barriers and making energy efficiency more accessible and more affordable. It’s the right thing to do for our environment, for our economy and for the pocketbooks of American families.”

The remodeling industry cites surveys that point to a growing demand among homeowners interested in making their homes energy efficient. Yet options are still limited for financing home energy improvements, especially for the many homeowners who are unable to take out a home equity loan or access an affordable consumer loan. Initially, the PowerSaver pilot program is estimated to assist approximately 30,000 homeowners to finance energy-efficient upgrades though higher market demand may increase this impact. According to HUD projections, more than 3,000 jobs will be created through this pilot program and the impact may be larger if market demand for the loan program increases over time.

Participating lenders are largely selected based on their commitment to work in partnership with established home energy retrofit programs provided by states, cities, utilities and home performance contractors. These markets include, but are not limited to, areas of the country participating in the Energy Department’s Better Building Program.

PowerSaver loans will be backed by the FHA but require these lenders to have significant “skin in the game.” FHA mortgage insurance will cover up to 90 percent of the loan amount in the event of default. Lenders will retain the remaining risk on each loan, incentivizing responsible underwriting and lending standards.

PowerSaver has been carefully designed to meet a need in the marketplace for borrowers who have the ability and motivation to take on modest additional debt to realize the savings over time from home energy improvements. PowerSaver loans are only available to borrowers with good credit, manageable debt and at least some equity in their home (maximum 100% combined loan-to-value).

HUD developed PowerSaver as part of the Recovery Through Retrofit initiative launched in May 2009 by Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force to develop federal actions that would expand green job opportunities in the United States and boost energy savings by improving home energy efficiency. The announcement is part of an interagency effort including 11 departments and agencies and six White House offices.

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