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Friday, October 09, 2009

More on Problems at the FHA and Quote of the Day

by Calculated Risk on 10/09/2009 10:11:00 AM

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the bad loans occurred. It was an effort to keep prices from falling too fast. That’s a policy.”
Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee on recent FHA lending.
The quote is from David Streitfeld and Louise Story's article in the NY Times: U.S. Mortgage Backer May Need Bailout, Experts Say

The article covers the problems at the FHA, and includes this anecdote:
Like many Americans, Ms. [Bernadine Shimon] has recently been through some rough times. She lost a house to foreclosure, declared bankruptcy, got divorced and is now a single mother, teaching high school English in a Denver suburb.

She wanted a house but no lender would touch her. The Federal Housing Administration was more obliging. With the F.H.A. insuring her mortgage, Ms. Shimon was able to buy a $134,000 fixer-upper in August.
Any more than [3.5% down] and Ms. Shimon, 45, would still be a renter. As it was, she cashed in her retirement savings account to come up with the necessary funds. She did not have enough to spare for closing costs, so her mortgage broker arranged a deal where the charges were wrapped into the loan at the cost of a higher interest rate. She cried when the deal was done.

The house was empty and trashed. Slowly, she is trying to bring it back to life. She spent the first few weeks picking up garbage in the backyard.

Is Ms. Shimon a good bet? Even she has no easy answer. Her mortgage payment, $1,100, is half of what she takes home every month. It is not easy to make ends meet. Teachers can get laid off like everyone else.
emphasis added
Maybe Ms. Shimon will make it (I hope so). But according to the article she has no savings, and is spending half her take home income on just the mortgage payment. update

Maybe she can qualify for a loan modification! The HAMP guidelines are for loans not to exceed 31 percent of gross income. Update: It is not clear from the story the percentage of her gross income (the half is take home income). The FHA guidelines are that the payment-to-income ratio not exceed 31%, however, with all of the "compensating factors", it is possible that the FHA is insuring loans that the Obama Administration (through HAMP) has called "unaffordable". (ht TL)

And the NAR thinks Ms. Shimon will spend $10 of thousands of dollars fixing up her home over the next year? That is their argument for extending the "first-time" homebuyer tax credit (for anyone who hasn't owned for three years).

As Frank said, this is "a policy". But is it a good policy?