NMP - September 2016 - 14

NEWSFLASH y SEPTEMBER 2016 y NMP NEWSFLASH y SEPTEMBER 2016 y NMP NEWSFLASH y SEPT MBA's Stevens: Next President Needs a Housing Policy Director SEPTEMBER 2016 n National Mortgage Professional Magazine n NationalMortgageProfessional.com 14 The head of the mortgage industry's largest trade association is calling on the next occupant of the White House to create a new position that will be responsible for shaping the Executive Branch's housing policy. In an op-ed column published in The Hill, Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) President and CEO David H. Stevens noted that the Obama Administration's response to housing was mostly reactive due to the tumult created by the Great Recession. But with the housing market regaining its strength plus what Stevens dubbed "the safest mortgage lending environment in modern history," the MBA chief pointed to growing housing policy problems that require a different approach from the presidency. "The delay in qualified Millennials from entering homeownership is causing an unusual rise in rental costs," Stevens wrote. "The reasons include tight credit, an inability of consumers to save for a down payment, student loan debt, and a lack of affordable housing stock. And these rising rental costs are having an adverse effect, especially in urban communities. According to the Institute for Research on Poverty and University of WisconsinMadison, over the last twenty years, the percentage of Americans dedicating at least half of their income to housing has risen from 42 percent to 52 percent. And almost a quarter, representing over a million families, dedicate over 70 percent of their income to pay rent and keep the lights on." Stevens, who served as commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration during the first Obama Administration term, called for a proactive Executive Branch approach to housing policy. "Undoubtedly, the next administration needs to create incentives through marketing and public messaging, down payment assistance or savings reward programs, tax incentives, or credits for appropriate real estate development," he continued. "Efforts to expand the development of affordable rental housing needs a firm Administration commitment via the expansion of the LowIncome Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and public/private partnerships to encourage the development of safe, sustainable, and affordable rental workforce housing." Stevens also stated that lenders were "being discouraged from lending to first-time home buyers by unclear rules and overly aggressive and inappropriate enforcement actions by the government agencies"-although he stopped short of openly identifying the regulatory agencies. In advocating for a White House-based director on housing policy, Stevens envisioned a strong leader to take on this new role. "This individual should report directly to the President and have clear principal level authority to call meetings, drive results, and measure progress," he said. "He or she will play an indispensable role not just in identifying conflict points, but working with multiple agencies and compelling independent regulators to coordinate policy so as to encourage lenders to lend to qualified borrowers. To untangle and refocus a national effort on housing America's families will require a President to make a certain and forceful pivot that leaves little doubt about this issue. That pivot cannot happen without a clearly articulated policy and someone empowered to use all the authority of the White House to make it happen." Residential Vacancies Down Nine Percent YoY There were approximately 1.4 million of vacant residential properties as of the end of the third quarter, according to new data from ATTOM Data Solutions. This represents 1.6 percent of all residential properties in the U.S. While the quantity of vacant properties is in decline-the third quarter figures represented a three percent quarterly decline and a nine percent year-over-year drop- the number of bank-owned (REO) residential vacancies hit 46,604 as of the end of the third quarter, up seven percent from the previous quarter and up a staggering 67 percent from the third quarter of 2015. Florida had the highest number of REO vacancies among the states, with 5,880 properties, while Detroit had the highest number among major metro markets, with 2,386 properties. However, there was better news involving the so-called "zombie foreclosures" (vacant properties in the foreclosure process): The 18,304 residential properties in this state, which accounted for 4.7 percent of all residential properties in foreclosure, marked a five percent drop from the previous quarter and a nine percent drop from one year ago. New Jersey led the states with zombie foreclosures (3,698 properties) while New York City had highest number among major metro areas (3,590). "A strong seller's market along with political pressure has likely motivated lenders to complete the foreclosure process over the past year on many vacant properties that were lingering in foreclosure limbo for years," said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. "While that has reduced the number of vacant properties in the foreclosure process ... it has also resulted in http://www.NationalMortgageProfessional.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NMP - September 2016

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