When the proposal for cutting the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) for new construction/rehabilitation projects to 45 points for the next fiscal year was made, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) officials at the mortgage bankers' association multi-family conference were given a standing ovation. Confidence in FHA apartment financing is nearly at its highest. The last fiscal year saw a record number of FHA financed loans and lender volume projections for this year are promising across the board.
In the recent years, FHA overcame the credit subsidy problem, proving its recognition in underwriting inefficiencies that hampered many pending deals. An example is a new policy developed for setting the MIP to enable programs to break even, allowing for the uninterrupted continuation of the Sec 221 (d) (4) program since October 2002. At the start of the policy in 2002, the MIP was at 80 basis points. In January 2004, the MIP was reduced to 50 basis points and It kept being reduced.
The five basis point changes, though not affecting production volumes significantly, indicate the stability and health of the market for FHA-financed loans. Its importance is high. The tremendous lowering is less important than the psychological effect. With plenty at stake in reputation, FHA's record-breaking volumes for multifamily financing are indicative of its health. Overall $7.36 billion for multifamily loans was insured in 2003, marking an $86 million increase. $2.5 billion of the total was for new construction.
Steady Market, Steady Rates
Some lenders feel permanent loan rates will remain low due to soft or recuperating markets. The expectation is for continuing at around 4.4% over the 10-year Treasury bond until mid-year at least. Many predict the production of more loans this year or at least maintaining of current loan production volumes.
This fiscal year is expected to be strong but slowdown is possible after the quick and easy production of Sec 223(a)(7) refinance loans. KeyBank Real Estate Capital is also breaking into FHA majorly. Over 2003, roughly $100 million in FHA loans was produced. This Year, the expected figure is $250 million. FHA is returning with more user-friendliness and as a one stop, one fee, one program. Most FHA offices are now capable of Multifamily accelerated processing (MAP) deals. A new construction deal now takes four to six months instead of a year.
Softness in the market continues. But some rehabilitation deals are not as susceptible to vacancy rates. The updated indexing of FHA mortgage limits and help with debt-service coverage restraints was welcomed. Larger loans mean real money. The MAP program is a success with GMACCM totaling $346.8 million in FHA multifamily loans.
The restraints had limited FHA insuring to only $4 billion a year. GMACCM's FHA production is to remain steady this year. This optimism has lured other lenders to join in. New lenders making their entry include ARCS commercial mortgage, LP and Wachovia Corp.
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