HUD: 2015 is year of housing opportunity

02/11/2015

HUD: 2015 is year of housing opportunity

WASHINGTON – Feb. 11, 2015 – Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro sees big opportunity in the housing market this year, with the easing of credit opening the door to more buyers.

"I see 2015 as the year of housing opportunity, particularly homeownership," Castro told CNN's Christine Romans. "A good example of that is the reduction in the FHA mortgage premium."

Castro points to the recent move of the Federal Housing Administration, which reduced its insurance premiums from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent. The reduction is expected to amount to about $900 per year for borrowers. Castro says the reduction in premiums will likely spur a quarter of a million more homebuyers in the next three years.

"That's a real impact," he says.

Also in expanding credit, mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently announced they will allow first-time home buyers to qualify for loans with downpayments as low as 3 percent.

But as some lenders loosen their access to credit, could this brew another housing bubble?

"A few years ago, it was too easy to get a home loan," Castro says. "Now we've swung to the other extreme – now it's too hard."

Castro says that even former chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke made public remarks a few months ago that he was struggling to qualify for refinancing mortgage due to the tight lending standards.

"We need to be in the strong middle – where we have strong safeguards in place but at the same time also a robust opportunity for folks who are responsible and ready to won a home to be able to get a mortgage," Castro says.

Source: "2015: The Year to Buy a House," CNNMoney (Feb. 2, 2015)

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