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WASHINGTON – The Mortgage Bankers Association applauded members of the House Financial Services Committee for introducing legislation to empower and revitalize the Federal Housing Administration. Meanwhile, NAFCU and CUNA said they’re both monitoring the measure but neither have taken a position on it yet. H.R. 5121, the Expanding American Homeownership Act of 2006, was introduced by Financial Services Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Reps. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Gary Miller (R-Calif.). Among the key provisions of the bill: it provides the FHA with flexible authority to introduce new products and program changes; raises FHA loan limits in high cost areas; and improves the FHA HECM program. On April 5, Ney held a hearing entitled “Transforming the Federal Housing Administration for the 21st Century.” Under his proposed bill, mortgage insurance premiums will be based on the borrower’s credit history, loan-to-value ratio, debt-to-income ratio and on FHA’s historical experience with similar borrowers. A statement from the committee said “the Administration believes that this change will decrease premiums for many of FHA’s traditional borrowers, thereby increasing their access to homeownership.” Since 1934, when the FHA was created by the National Housing Act, it has insured more than 33 million loans and is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world.

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