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  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is a United States government agency created in part by the National Housing Act of 1934. The FHA sets standards for construction and underwriting and insures loans made by banks and other private lenders for home building. The goals of this organization are to improve housing standards and conditions, provide an adequate home financing system through insurance of mortgage loans, and to stabilize the mortgage market. The Acting Commissioner of the FHA is Dana T. Wade.

    It is different from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which supervises government-sponsored enterprises.

     

     

    During the Great Depression many banks failed, causing a drastic decrease in home loans and ownership. At that time, most home mortgages were short-term (three to five years), with no amortization, and balloon instruments at loan-to-value (LTV) ratios below sixty percent. The banking crisis of the 1930s forced all lenders to retrieve due mortgages; refinancing was not available, and many borrowers, now unemployed, were unable to make mortgage payments. Consequently, many homes were foreclosed, causing the housing market to plummet. Banks collected the loan collateral (foreclosed homes) but the low property values resulted in a relative lack of assets.

    In 1934 the federal banking system was restructured. The National Housing Act of 1934 created the Federal Housing Administration. Its intention was to regulate the rate of interest and the terms of mortgages that it insured. These new lending practices increased the number of people who could afford a down payment on a house and monthly debt service payments on a mortgage, thereby also increasing the size of the market for single-family homes.

    The FHA calculated appraisal value based on eight criteria and directed its agents to lend more for higher appraised projects, up to a maximum cap. The two most important were "Relative Economic Stability", which constituted 40% of appraisal value, and "protection from adverse influences", which made up another 20%.

    In 1935, Colonial Village in Arlington, Virginia, was the first large-scale, rental housing project erected in the United States that was Federal Housing Administration-insured.[3] During World War II, the FHA financed a number of worker's housing projects including the Kensington Gardens Apartment Complex in Buffalo, New York.

    In 1965 the Federal Housing Administration became part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

    Following the subprime mortgage crisis, FHA, along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, became a large source of mortgage financing in the United States. The share of home purchases financed with FHA mortgages went from 2 percent to over one-third of mortgages in the United States, as conventional mortgage lending dried up in the credit crunch. Without the subprime market, many of the riskiest borrowers ended up borrowing from the Federal Housing Administration, and the FHA could suffer substantial losses. Joshua Zumbrun and Maurna Desmond of Forbes have written that eventual government losses from the FHA could reach $100 billion.

    The troubled loans are now weighing on the agency’s capital reserve fund, which by early 2012 had fallen below its congressionally mandated minimum of 2%, in contrast to more than 6% two years earlier.[7] By November 2012, the FHA was essentially bankrupt.

     

  • Mortgage insurance

    Since 1934, the FHA and HUD have insured over 34 million home mortgages and 47,205 multifamily project mortgages. Currently, the FHA has 4.8 million insured single family mortgages and 13,000 insured multifamily projects in its portfolio.[11]

    Mortgage insurance protects lenders from mortgage defaulting. If a property purchaser borrows more than 80% of the property's value, the lender will likely require that the borrower purchase private mortgage insurance to cover the lender's risk. If the lender is FHA approved and the mortgage is within FHA limits, the FHA provides mortgage insurance that may be more affordable, especially for higher-risk borrowers

    Lenders can typically obtain FHA mortgage insurance for 96.5% of the appraised value of the home or building. FHA loans are insured through a combination of an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) and annual mutual mortgage insurance (MMI) premiums. The UFMIP is a lump sum ranging from 1 – 2.25% of loan value (depending on LTV and duration), paid by the borrower either in cash at closing or financed via the loan. MMI, although annual, is included in monthly mortgage payments and ranges from 0 – 1.35% of loan value (again, depending on LTV and duration).

    If a borrower has poor to moderate credit history, MMI probably is much less expensive with an FHA insured loan than with a conventional loan regardless of LTV – sometimes as little as one-ninth as much depending on the borrower's credit score, LTV, loan size, and approval status. Conventional mortgage insurance rates increase as credit scores decrease, whereas FHA mortgage insurance rates do not vary with credit score. Conventional mortgage premiums spike dramatically if the borrower's credit score is lower than 620. Due to a sharply increased risk, most mortgage insurers will not write policies if the borrower's credit score is less than 575. When insurers do write policies for borrowers with lower credit scores, annual premiums may be as high as 5% of the loan amount.