Housing finance reform
President Donald Trump directed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of the Treasury to compile reports on the reform of government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Earlier in the year, the White House – which has been a vocal proponent of taking Fannie and Freddie out of conservatorship – said it was working on a framework for an overhaul of the current housing finance system, but has not issued any progress on that front.
While the housing market on the whole has experienced a slowdown, there are some unexpected markets that are heating up. They’re called the exurbs – or remote areas just beyond affluent suburbs – and Millennials and retirees in areas near Dallas, Atlanta, Las Vegas and San Francisco are flocking to them. Why? Because rising home prices and high mortgage rates are driving some homebuyers out of urban centers toward remote locations where homes are more affordable. Plus, low gas prices make longer commutes a bit more palatable.
DACA mortgage borrowers
While it appears that the Federal Housing Administration may not be backing mortgages for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, Fannie Mae declared that it supports mortgages for DACA recipients. Fannie Mae announced its policies surrounding DACA borrowers have not changed. It will back mortgages for Dreamers, as long as certain lending criteria are met. Fannie Mae said that it is issuing the bulletin to provide “additional guidance to help lenders determine eligibility for non-U.S. citizen borrowers” in response to customer feedback on the issue.
Puerto Rico disaster aid
Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking into whether the White House interfered with aid approved for Puerto Rico as the island recovered from 2017’s Hurricane Maria. The investigation is part of the watchdog’s broader look into disaster grants, HUD-OIG attorney Jeremy Kirkland said. Kirkland said the watchdog will be meeting with congressional lawmakers to request a probe into whether the Trump administration slowed aid to the ravaged island.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency revealed it mistakenly leaked the banking information of 2.5 million U.S. disaster survivors. FEMA shared sensitive, personally identifiable information of disaster survivors who previously used the company’s Sheltering Assistance program, officials stated. Information was shared from victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and victims of the California wildfires in 2017. While transferring data to a contractor, FEMA shared more information than was necessary. FEMA declined to identify the contractor.
The seller’s market
Real estate agents say many of their buyers are encouraged by an expected surge of supply this spring, and a number of them are taking a wait-and-see approach. This market shift that puts the control in the hands of the buyer was revealed by a recent Credit Suisse survey of 500 real estate agents around the country. The report noted that buyer traffic in February was up one point from the previous month, but down 11 points from last year. The results appear to be in line with expectations, Credit Suisse said, with responses indicating moderate activity across the country compared with last year.