THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 7, 2015

 

FACT SHEET: Making Homeownership More Accessible and Sustainable

 

When President Obama took office, our housing market was in free-fall, and rising unemployment and plunging house prices posed numerous challenges for families and the broader economy.  The President took immediate action to stabilize the housing market and protect the middle class.  These steps helped millions of middle class families stay in their homes, save money on their mortgages, and turn their communities around. 

Today, the housing market is on firmer footing. Rising home values have brought millions of families out from being underwater, new foreclosures are at the lowest levels since 2006, and home sales have substantially increased.  The President’s push for tough enforcement against past abuses and strong new consumer protections have helped curb irresponsible lending and have given responsible Americans more confidence and security in their most substantial investment. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has pioneered new, streamlined mortgage forms to make simpler and easier for families to buy a house. 

Still, there’s more work to do: too many creditworthy families who can afford—and want to purchase—a home are shut out of homeownership opportunities due to today’s tight lending market. That is why today, the President announced a major new step that his Administration is taking to make mortgages more affordable and accessible for creditworthy families. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will reduce annual mortgage insurance premiums by 0.5 percentage point from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent. For the typical first-time homebuyer, this reduction will translate into a $900 reduction in their annual mortgage payment. Existing homeowners who refinance into an FHA mortgage will see similar reductions to their mortgage payments as well. In total, this action will help millions of families save billions of dollars in mortgage payments in the coming years, helping to support the housing market recovery. The new premium level is fully consistent with the FHA’s commitment to continue strengthening its financial health through growing reserves. At the same time, full documentation and continued strong underwriting means lending will remain prudent and sustainable – benefitting both homeowners and FHA.

This step is part of the President’s broader effort to expand responsible lending to creditworthy borrowers and increase access to sustainable rental housing for families not ready or wanting to buy a home. In the coming months the Administration will be taking additional steps to cut red tape and clarify lending standards to build on the measures announced today. And the Administration will continue to urge bipartisan progress in Congress to pass comprehensive housing finance reform legislation that will secure a stable and resilient housing finance system – one that will ensure broad access to mortgages at affordable rates and better serve future generations.