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Putting Mortgage Insurers on Solid Ground (Research Report)
Mark M. Zandi, Jim Parrott, Cristian deRitis

The mortgage insurance industry plays an important role in the housing finance system, providing insurance against default by borrowers with low down payment loans. The industry struggled during the housing bust, and while it has done much to shore up its financial health in the subsequent recovery, more needs to be done to strengthen and stabilize the industry if it is to play the central role in the housing finance system that many envision for it. The Private Mortgage Insurance Eligibility Requirements, recently put forth by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, are intended to do precisely that. A thoughtful effort, these standards should succeed in ensuring that private mortgage insurers are strong counterparties to the government-sponsored enterprises and a much improved bulwark against excessive risk in the system. Several features of the rules as currently written, however, would likely unnecessarily increase costs and cyclicality in the mortgage and housing markets. With a few modest changes, these flaws can be remedied without sacrificing the considerable benefits of the new standards.

Posted to Web: August 26, 2014Publication Date: August 26, 2014

Homeless LGBTQ Youth (Research Brief)
Mary K. Cunningham, Mike Pergamit, Nan Astone, Jessica Luna

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning (LGBTQ) youth are over-represented among the homeless youth population. Researchers and practitioners are working to improve data on homeless youth, especially LGBTQ youth, across the country. This brief summarizes the findings on LGBTQ homeless youth counted during the 2013 YouthCount!, a federal interagency initiative that aims to improve counts of unaccompanied homeless youth. The brief also shares best practices on how to improve counts of LGBTQ homeless youth, and areas where policymakers can act to improve LGBTQ youth outcomes.

Posted to Web: August 21, 2014Publication Date: August 21, 2014

Housing Finance At A Glance: A Monthly Chartbook: August 2014 (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
Laurie Goodman, Ellen Seidman, Jim Parrott, Sheryl Pardo, Jun Zhu, Wei Li, Bing Bai, Taz George, Maia Woluchem, Alison Rincon

The August edition of At A Glance, our reference guide for mortgage and housing market data, includes a special quarterly feature of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan composition, default rates, and repurchase activity.

Posted to Web: August 20, 2014Publication Date: August 20, 2014

A Realistic Assessment of Housing Finance Reform (Commentary)
Laurie Goodman

In August 2008, the GSEs went into conservatorship, and the clear intent was that they were never going to re-emerge; a new system, with a larger role for private capital providers was to take its place. Nearly six years later, GSE reform remains a dream: the government essentially guarantees 80% of new mortgage debt, and credit availability is limited. In this paper, we take a look at the current system, evaluate the proposals for GSE reform, and offer some thoughts on what is being done and what more can be done without a legislative solution.

Posted to Web: August 18, 2014Publication Date: August 01, 2014

Guarantee Fees - An Art, Not a Science (Commentary)
Laurie Goodman, Jim Parrott, Ellen Seidman, Jun Zhu

This commentary examines the potential impact of increasing the guarantee fees that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge lenders. We identify the three most important assumptions made in determining the fees, conclude that transparency regarding these assumptions is critical, and that, under any reasonable set of assumptions, the fees should not be increased for the least risky loans. We also conclude that the GSEs' mission should be taken into account in determining the appropriate capital requirement.

Posted to Web: August 14, 2014Publication Date: August 14, 2014

Nonbank Specialty Servicers: What's the Big Deal? (Commentary)
Pamela Lee

Following the crisis, nonbank specialty servicers rapidly expanded their portfolios of distressed loans. This has contributed to a significant market change: in 2011, the 10 largest mortgage servicers were all banks; by 2013, only five of the top 10 were banks, and the other five were nonbank servicers. The rapid growth and lack of a federal regulator have contributed to significant, heated regulatory scrutiny. This commentary discusses major concerns raised about the largest nonbank servicers, focusing on the three fastest-growing large nonbank servicers. We explore the regulatory and market framework driving their striking growth, then address the major charges against them, in an effort to elevate the debate and inform sound policy.

Posted to Web: August 04, 2014Publication Date: August 04, 2014

Wealth in America: Policies to Support Mobility (Research Brief)
Signe-Mary McKernan, Caleb Quakenbush, Caroline Ratcliffe, C. Eugene Steuerle

What role can policymakers play in helping families rebuild their balance sheets after the Great Recession and in helping young families, families of color, and those with less education who were falling behind even prior to it? This brief, based on a convening of nearly 25 national wealth-building experts, presents the facts and identifies four promising policy reforms: (1) providing universal children’s savings accounts; (2) reforming the mortgage interest deduction to better target incentives; (3) expanding access to retirement accounts and automatic enrollment; and (4) promoting emergency savings while addressing barriers such as asset tests in safety net programs.

Posted to Web: July 22, 2014Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Housing Finance At A Glance: A Monthly Chartbook: July 2014 (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
Laurie Goodman, Ellen Seidman, Jim Parrott, Jun Zhu, Bing Bai, Pamela Lee, Taz George, Maia Woluchem, Alison Rincon

The July edition of At A Glance, HFPC’s reference guide for mortgage and housing market data, includes updated indicators related to credit availability, the state of the GSE portfolios, and the latest mortgage origination and housing market projections.

Posted to Web: July 22, 2014Publication Date: July 22, 2014

VA Loans Outperform FHA Loans. Why? And What Can We Learn? (Commentary)
Laurie Goodman, Ellen Seidman, Jun Zhu

Veterans Administration (VA) loans have consistently performed better than Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. In this commentary, we take a closer look at both programs to identify why VA loans perform better. We conclude that the residual income test may be a critical differentiating factor and suggest that regulators evaluate whether the test might be a good supplement to FHA’s current assessment of a borrower’s ability to pay.

Posted to Web: July 16, 2014Publication Date: July 16, 2014

Housing Security in the Washington Region (Research Report)
Leah Hendey, Peter A. Tatian, Graham MacDonald

This study examines critical gaps in affordable housing across a range of income levels in the Washington, DC region. More permanent supportive housing is needed to reduce chronic homelessness. The lack of affordable apartments, particularly for extremely low income renters, contributed to the number of homeless people and resulted in over half of all renters paying over 30 percent of their income on housing costs. Low income homebuyers also faced challenges because of high prices. These findings can help local governments and philanthropy direct scarce public and private resources to address the region's affordable housing needs.

Posted to Web: July 15, 2014Publication Date: July 15, 2014

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