Real Estate in Brief: FHA to expand foreclosure relief for 2017 disaster victims

by Megan Donofrio

The Federal Housing Administration revealed its plans on Feb. 22 to broaden foreclosure relief for the victims of 2017’s natural disasters. The move would affect all FHA-insured homeowners in areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as those impacted by the California wildfires, flooding and mudslides. Victims will be allowed to remain in their homes and losses that would have affected the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund will be diluted. The FHA’s new Disaster Standalone Partial Claim option gathers 12 months of missed mortgage payments into an interest-free second mortgage loan, which is intended to help struggling borrowers get back to regular mortgage payments without a major financial blow. The second loan is then settled when the borrower sells their home or refinances.

Other recent real estate news:

  • The IRS made clear last week that interest paid on home equity loans and second mortgages, if used to “buy, build, or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home” is deductible under the new tax law. Though it was often reported that the tax reform bill denied the deduction of much of the interest paid on Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs), the IRS clarified that taxpayers can keep deducting interest for loans pertaining to real estate pursuits, still barring interest paid from the same HELOC for things like personal living expenses.
  • Citigroup is seeking someone to lead its U.S. mortgage operation. Earlier this year, Citi formed a new single digital mortgage origination platform through an agreement with Digital Risk and Black Knight, signaling that the bank may refocusing on the mortgage business after shifting away from mortgage servicing and reducing its lending operation in recent years. Among the job responsibilities for Citi’s head of mortgage is the “successful completion of mortgage transformation.”
  • The Multifamily Production Index is now at 53 after rising 7 points in the final quarter of 2017, according to the National Association of Home Builders. All three key components of the the multifamily housing market that make up the MPI increased in the fourth quarter: construction of low-rent units (up two points to 56), market-rate rental units (up 11 points to 54), and “for-sale” units and condominiums (up 9 points to 49). The MPI assesses builder and developer confidence about current apartment and condominium market conditions. The index is measured on a scale of 0 to 100, with a number greater than 50 signifying a larger number of respondents feel conditions are improving.
  • Top-performing member firms and individuals were recognized earlier this month by Lending Real Estate Companies of the World (LendingRE). Awards were presented at its annual conference at the Wynn Las Vegas, with 3,000 real estate professionals across 24 countries in attendance. For the eighth year, Allen Tate Company, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, won the top honor — the Diamond Award — for outstanding performance and engagement in all of LeadingRE’s business programs.