Back in February we told you not to worry about Richard Cordray’s appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (There was some concern that if wasn’t confirmed, we’d be back in limbo in terms of mortgage requirements, and that would play havoc with the housing recovery.)
There’s a big deal going on in the Senate regarding tax reform.
The Senate Finance Committee has decided that the easiest way to change the tax code is to start with a blank slate — that is, start with no deductions at all, then add in the ones that are most important.
Unfortunately, in the post-Citizens United era, "most important" could easily become "what most big businesses want," rather than "what’s best for the country." Which is why NAR wants to be sure that tax incentives for homeowners — notably the mortgage interest deduction, property tax deduction, and capital gains exclusions — are at the top of the list.
About a month ago a survey was sent out to Virginia Realtors giving them the opportunity to share what they are experiencing first hand, in the field regarding the housing market.
The survey, conducted in partnership with The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, focused on the state of the residential housing market in Virginia and how those conditions changed during the first quarter of 2013.
About 70 percent of Virginia Realtors say that housing market conditions were slightly or significantly better the in the first quarter of this year, and a similar share of respondents indicated that the inventory of housing was very low.
A coupla weeks ago, we told you that Virginia senator Mark Warner — along with his colleague Bob Corker — was going to introduce a bill to essentially liquidate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two have now formally introduced the bill, which also has the backing of six other members of the Senate Banking Committee. (The tally is four Democrats and four Republicans, in case that matters to you.)
File this under "got your back": Check out who’s spending the most money lobbying on Capitol Hill, courtesy of OpenSecrets.org:
That’s $8.5 million so far this year. In 2012, NAR spent a total of $41.5 million (and was also the number-two lobbying organization behind the US Chamber).
There are a handful of tax breaks for homeowners who improve the energy efficiency of their homes — essentially, the government reduces your taxes if you make your house greener.
Now a bill introduced in the Senate by senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) would give a different kind of incentive — it would require lenders to take into account the energy-efficient features of a home when calculating a borrower’s income/expense ratio.
Essentially, it would allow buyers to qualify for a larger loan or a better rate if a home is energy efficient.
The National Flood Insurance Program was in the black until Hurricane Katrina; since then it’s been in debt to the tune of about $20 billion. (Which, of course, illustrates why it’s a government program and not offered by private insurers.)
So in 2012 Congress reformed the program to try to keep it from bleeding money.
For example, homes built before 1968 — when the NFIP started — were given lower, "grandfathered" rates. Those are going to be phased out. And homeowners living where the danger of flooding is so extreme that insurance is unaffordable were given subsidies to pay for it. (Yes, that’s correct. People living in the most-flood prone areas were given lower insurance rates.) Those subsidies are also going to be removed.
On July 1, a whole lotta Virginia’s new laws take effect, including a bunch that affect real estate and Realtors. Are you ready? Do you know what’s changing? (Hint: You’d better.)
We’ve got you covered on our just-launched 2013 "New Laws Virginia Realtors Need to Know About" page. (Sorry — we couldn’t come up with a fancy name for it.)
The Obama administration has extended its Making Home Affordable program, which includes two sub-programs designed to help homeowners refinance so they can stay in their homes.
Making Home Affordable includes the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). It was set to expire at the end of the year, but homeowners now have until December 31, 2015 to apply for modifications.
HAMP: Lenders are giving incentives from the federal government to modify homeowners’ mortgages.
Good news for small local banks and credit unions. After a several months of accepting comments from industry groups and the public, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made several changes to its ability-to-repay rules — changes that are a boon for smaller lenders.
CFPB’s ability-to-repay rule is the standard that all loans must meet. It explains what a lender must consider when offering a mortgage. It’s to prevent lenders from offering loans to people who can’t afford them. (Click here for the Buzz post that explains it.)