Housing-Tax-Credit Fix Is Just a Drop in the Bucket

Few folks, especially anyone connected with affordable housing, want to look a gift horse in the mouth.

For that reason, bankers have lauded the enactment last month of a federal tax law that, they say, could pave the way for an increase in the construction of affordable rental housing. But relative to the post-crisis boom in demand for apartments and soaring rents, the increase will be minor unless more reforms are enacted, according to bankers and others in the business.

“It helps, but there’s still so much more that needs to be done,” said Annette Billingsley, a managing director and group head of community development finance at Union Bank in San Francisco.

The change, a tiny provision tucked into the $1.1 trillion spending legislation that President Obama signed Dec. 18, is expected to provide more stability to banks and developers that use low-income housing tax credits […]

US home purchases rebound; 2015 had most sales in 9 years


WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home sales rebounded in December after new regulations had delayed the completion of purchases in November. And total sales in 2015 were the most in nine years.
The National Association of Realtors said Friday that sales of existing homes climbed 14.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million. Sales had previously plummeted as the industry adapted to new mortgage disclosure rules — a temporary downturn before delayed sales were finalized in December.
Last month’s rebound capped a year that produced the highest annual sales total since 2006. Steady job growth and low mortgages drew more buyers into the market, causing both sales and prices to climb steadily.

Americans bought roughly 5.26 million homes in 2015, a 6.5 percent increase over 2014. The median sales price rose 6.8 percent to $222,400.

The Realtors forecast that sales […]

Justice Dept. Settlements Put FHA Lenders on Notice


Two recent Justice Department settlements, one with a large nonbank mortgage lender and the other with a small one, speak volumes about how much Federal Housing Administration lending has changed.

Franklin American Mortgage in Franklin, Tenn., on Wednesday agreed to pay $70 million for knowingly originating home loans that did not meet the guidelines of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the FHA. A day earlier a much smaller lender, RanLife in Salt Lake City, agreed to pay $1 million for underwriting loans that failed to comply with HUD’s regulations.

Those dollar figures might seem like peanuts compared with bank settlements in the hundreds of millions or more. But more of the FHA market is shifting to nonbanks, and the cases highlight nonbank lenders’ tendency to under-report deficiencies and their other shortcomings. Moreover, the cases underscore the reason why big banks have backed away from […]

Royce Introduces Bill to Break FICO ‘Monopoly’ for GSEs


WASHINGTON — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be able to evaluate and use new credit scoring models under a bill introduced in the House that seeks to create more competition in the credit scoring industry.

The two government-sponsored enterprises have been using the FICO 4 credit score model since Fair Isaac Corp. introduced it in 2004. That has created a government-sanctioned monopoly, according to the sponsors of the bill.

“The GSEs’ use of a single credit score is an unfair practice that stifles competition and innovation in credit scoring,” said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif.

Royce is a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee and chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., noted the FICO 4 is outdated and said it doesn’t “necessarily take into account something as simple as whether borrowers have paid their rent on time.”

VantageScore Solutions has […]

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