Lenders Split on FHA Premium Decrease
Mortgage executive participants reported being optimistic about the pace of mortgage originations this year, but split their opinions about the impact of the Federal Housing Administration’s recent premium reduction, according to a new survey.
On Jan. 7, the Obama administration announced the FHA would cut the premiums it charges to guarantee mortgages by 37%, from 1.35% to 0.85%.
The administration said cutting the rate as some, including CUNA and NAFCU, said the decrease would bring as many as 250,000 more potential home purchasers into the market.
However, nearly half of the mortgage professionals surveyed by the Collingwood Group, a Washington-based housing finance consultancy reported having doubts about the forecast.
Forty-seven percent of the survey’s respondents said they thought the 250,000 number was “too high.”
Still, 53% said the 250,000 forecast was either “on the mark” or “too low.”
Those who said the number was “too high” explained their opinions by saying credit standards remain tight, the pricing differential is not large enough to generate a substantial number of new homeowners and the pricing reduction is not sufficient to make financing affordable, according to Collingwood Group.
The company also reported that roughly 25% of respondents thought the premium announcement was more of a political move by the Obama administration than a major change in the market. They said the impact, while positive, would be minimal.
On a more promising note, 75% of the executives questioned said their current mortgage business conditions had improved from last year, with 4% saying they were “much better.”
“Sentiments around current business conditions have steadily improved since Collingwood began this survey in September 2014,” the company said. “The general trend has shifted from a mostly negative sentiment to a positive one. The most common explanations for the renewed optimism included lower interest rates, which have spurred more re-finances, reduced competition, improvement in the overall economy and clarity around new rules.”