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FHA Reform Bill Passed by House; Good News for Homebuyers

Dennis Norman

Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5072, the FHA Reform Act of 2010 which is good news for home-buyers that may need to rely upon an FHA loan for a home purchase. The bill will still need to be passed by the Senate and then signed into law by the President, but a big first step toward this was taken by the House passing it.

Highlights of the bill that I think are important to home-buyers are:

  • The down-payment requirement for FHA loans will remain at 3.5 percent. There was an amendment to the bill that would have increased the down-payment requirement to 5 percent but was defeated, leaving the down-payment requirement at the present 3.5 percent level. The National Association of REALTORS estimated that, if the down-payment was increased to 5 percent, there would be 300,000 potential home-buyers removed from the market as a result.
  • FHA will lower it’s up-front fee it charges borrowers for FHA mortgage insurance to 1 percent but will increase the annual premium they charge (which is added on to the payment) to 0.85 percent. This will help borrowers by lowering the up-front “out of pocket” expenses they incur, but will help FHA’s financial stability by increasing overall revenue from the premiums.
  • FHA’s loan limits will be increased for multifamily elevator buildings and in extremely high-cost areas, thus opening up the option of FHA financing in more markets.

The bill had almost unanimous support in the House, with 406 representatives voting for the bill and only 4 against, so I would expect it should have strong support in the Senate as well. Oh, curious who voted against it? Here’s the list:

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