April 27, 2015

Monday’s Adjudication Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

April 27, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

April 24, 2015

Fannie & Freddie and Multifamily

By David Reiss

The Urban Institute has posted a Housing Finance Policy Center Brief, The GSEs’ Shrinking Role in the Multifamily Market. It opens,

Though the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs)—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—are best known for their dominant role in the single-family mortgage market, they have also been major providers of multifamily housing financing for more than 25 years. Their role in the multifamily market, however, has declined substantially since the housing crisis and has reverted to more normalized levels. In addition, even as the GSEs continue to meet or exceed their multifamily affordable housing goals, their financing for certain underserved segments of the market has fallen steeply in recent years.

Given recent declines, policymakers and regulators should consider maintaining or increasing the GSEs’ footprint in the multifamily market, especially in underserved segments. The scorecard cap increases and exemptions recently employed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to slow the decline in GSE multifamily volume have been somewhat effective, but they may not be enough to prevent the GSEs’ role from shrinking further. (1)

The policy brief’s main takeaway is that “policymakers and regulators should consider maintaining or increasing GSEs’ role in the multifamily market.” (8) I was struck by the fact that this policy brief pretty much took for granted that it is good for the GSEs to have such a big (and increasing) role in the multifamily market:

Though the multifamily market continues to remain strong and private financing is readily available today, it is also poised to grow significantly because of rising property prices and higher future demand. This raises the question of whether the GSEs should continue to shrink their multifamily footprint even further below the level of early 2000s, a period of relatively stable housing market. (8)

Government intervention in markets is usually called for when there is a market failure. The policy brief indicates the opposite — “private financing is readily available today.” The brief does argue that financing “backed by pure private capital is likely to be concentrated within the more profitable mid-to-high end of the market.” (9) That does not indicate that there is a market failure, just that borrowing costs should be cheaper for such projects. If the federal government is going to effectively subsidize a functioning credit market through the GSEs, it should make sure that it is getting something concrete in return, like affordable housing. Just supporting a credit market generally because it tends to support affordable housing is an inefficient way to achieve public goods like affordable housing. It also is a recipe for special interest capture and a future housing finance crisis. To the extent that this private credit market can function on its own, the government should limit its role to safety and soundness regulation and affordable housing creation.

April 24, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

Friday’s Government Reports Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its results to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Guarantee Fee Review. Following the release, the FHFA announced that the fees would remain the same with modest adjustments.
  • HUD released the 2009-2011 National Rental Dynamics Reports, which tracks changes in rental housing affordability.

April 24, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

April 23, 2015

The Good, Bad & Ugly of Real Estate

By David Reiss

U.S. News & World Report quoted me in The Good, Bad and Ugly of Real Estate Investments. It reads, in part,

While many investors get a rise when it comes to the potential profits in real estate, that doesn’t mean all properties rise enough in value to justify the commitment.

“Some people buy real estate expecting it to appreciate a lot over time,” says David Reiss, a professor of law and research director of the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School. “But it can be risky – or even foolish – to pay so much for a property that you’re losing money on an operating basis just because you think it will appreciate.”

The wisdom in real estate, then, applies just as it would with stocks, commodities or any other investment class: The variables are many, the can’t-miss propositions few. So where should the savvy money go? And how does real estate fit into your overall portfolio?

Here, experts and observers weigh in on the essentials that should guide your decisions, as well as the ways to guide your financial forays toward success.

Know your market well. If you pay market price for an investment property, you probably won’t see particularly robust returns. “It will make a market return, and if you want to do better than that, you have to pound the pavement,” Reiss says. “Look for deals that are underpriced for one reason or another. And you won’t know which deals are underpriced unless you have a good sense of how properties are priced.”

*    *    *

Increase your profit potential with an investment of time. Property development, management and administration often require an army of specialists. But if you’re adept at repairs, accounting or showing a vacancy to prospective renters, you can forego the fees associated with hired help. “Depending on your availability and your skills, these could be trade-offs that are worth making for you,” Reiss says.

April 23, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

Thursday’s Advocacy & Think Tank Round-Up

By Serenna McCloud

  • Enterprise Community Partners and the National Low Income Housing Coalition and 45 other affordable housing advocates signed a letter to the appropriations committees of the house and senate urging them to pride at least $1.2 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). a block grant that provides states and localities critical resources to help them respond to affordable housing challenges.
  • A recent study by the National Association of Realtors finds that formerly distressed homeowners with restored credit are re-entering the housing market, nearly a million of these former owners have likely already purchased a home again, and an additional 1.5 million are likely to become eligible and purchase over the next five years, representing an additional source of buyer demand for the housing market.
  • National Association of Realtors also released it’s March Realtor Confidence Index which finds gains in home sales and prices but noted concern over lender delays and tight inventory, especially for affordable units.

April 23, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

April 22, 2015

Reiss on Anatomy of a Mortgage

By David Reiss

MainStreet quoted me in The Anatomy of a Mortgage – Determining Which Fees You Need to Pay. It reads in part,

All mortgages are not created equal, so reading the fine print before you agree to a long-term commitment is crucial.

Mortgage lenders now have become “very risk averse” since the financial crisis and are doing everything “pretty much by the book,” said Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com, a New York-based personal finance content company. “The rules on the ability of a homeowner to be able to repay are stricter than ten years ago,” he said. “Niche products have gone back to niche borrowers.”

While lenders are offering fewer risky products such as interest only mortgages to run-of-the-mill consumers, there are still hidden fees and other deceptive practices to be wary of, said Jason van den Brand, CEO of Lenda, the San Francisco-based online mortgage company.

In 2013, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau issued guidelines to protect consumers from the types of mortgages that contributed to the financial crash. In the past, lenders were approving mortgages that allowed consumers to borrow large sums of money without any documentation such as pay stubs and offered extremely low interest rates to lure people into buying homes.

 “It also doesn’t mean that the potential to get bad mortgage advice has been eliminated,” van den Brand said. “There aren’t bad mortgage products, just bad advice and decisions.”

Here are the top seven things consumers should consider carefully.

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Avoid choosing an adjustable rate mortgage or ARM when it makes more sense to select a fixed rate mortgage. Those low initial rates offered by ARMs are enticing, but they only make sense for homeowners who know that in less than ten years, they plan to upgrade to a large home, move to another neighborhood or relocate for work. Many ARMs are called a 5/1 or 7/1, which means that they are fixed at the introductory interest rate for five or seven years and then readjust every year after that, which increases your monthly mortgage payment said David Reiss, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School.

While many homeowners gravitate toward a 30-year mortgage, younger owners “should seriously consider getting an ARM if they think that they might move sooner rather than later,” he said. If you are single and buying a one-bedroom condo, it is likely you could sell that condo and buy a house in the future. “That person might not want to pay for the long-term safety of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and instead save money with a 7/1 ARM,” Reiss said.

April 22, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

Wednesday’s Academic Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

April 22, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments