Numerous disagreements swirled around Congress’ passing last month of the payroll tax cut extension, but none proved more controversial with real estate professionals than the agreed funding method for the tax cut – and now a date has been set for when the contentious method will take effect.
To raise the roughly $38 billion needed to fund the tax cut, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will raise fees on single-family mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by 10 basis points, and according to a new report from HousingWire, the new fees will begin on April 1, 2012 and last until Oct. 1, 2021.
Though initial fee hikes will be at the 10-basis-point level, FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco said in a statement last week that his agency may raise rates even further.
“In early 2012, FHFA will further analyze whether additional guarantee fee increases are
appropriate to ensure the new requirements are being met,” DeMarco said. “FHFA will announce plans for further guarantee fee increases or other fee adjustments that will then be implemented gradually over the two-year implementation window, taking into consideration risk levels and conditions in financial markets.”
Vilified almost immediately after its announcement by real estate professionals, the fee hike inspired violent reaction from some, especially Bob Nielsen, the chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.
In a press release, Nielsen called the fee hike “short-sighted,” “counter-productive” and a threat to the entire fragile housing sector.
“Congress is tampering with [guarantee]-fees and needlessly raising the cost of buying a home,” Nielsen said. “This will jeopardize the tenuous rebound and is the last thing this economy needs.”
Also disconcerting to some are the fee hike’s impacts on another FHFA subsidiary, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Though the government has been attempting to downsize the FHA’s presence in the home mortgage market, arguing that private financing from banks should propel a sustainable recovery, some analysts fear that higher fees on Fannie and Freddie securities will cause banks to raise their own fees on Fannie- and Freddie-insured loans, driving more prospective homeowners to FHA financing.
As Mortgage Banker Association David Stevens said in a CNBC story by Diana Olick, “With no appetite for private investment in mortgages, this action will simply drive more business to FHA, at a time when everyone agrees that the FHA should be shrinking its market share, not increasing it.”