Industry News

House passes bill to boost home ownership under FHA

Program changes affect down payment, loan limits

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation that aims to increase home-ownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income Americans through restructuring of Federal Housing Administration policies. The bill, H.R. 5121, dubbed "The Expanding American Homeownership Act," was created in response to rising home prices and outdated loan limits that eliminated FHA financing for buyers in many U.S. housing markets. The bill specifically will: Eliminate the current statutory 3 percent minimum down payment, reducing a significant barrier to home ownership. FHA's existing down-payment requirement does not meet the demands of today's marketplace, where most first-time home buyers put down 2 percent or less. The "new" FHA would offer a variety of down-payment options. Create a new, risk-based insurance premium structure for FHA that would match the premium amount with the credit profile of the borrower. It would replace the current structure, in which there is standard p...