Saturday, September 19, 2009

FHA in Deep Trouble: Default Rates Skyrocketing

According to this Nashville Business Journal article, FHA reserves feeling the squeeze, and this CNBC article, FHA Cash Reserves to Fall Below Required Levels, high levels of FHA loan defaults have pushed FHA cash reserves below the mandated minimum levels.

Both articles state that the head of the FHA said that the agency will not need a tax payer bailout, that the FHA will hire a chief risk officer and that underwriting criteria will be tightened including higher minimum credit scores and stricter appraisal rules. The Nashville Business Journal article quotes the new release statements of FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens as saying "To be clear, the fund's reserves are sufficient to cover our future losses, so the FHA will not require taxpayer assistance or new Congressional action. That said, given the size and scope of the FHA and its importance to today's market, these risk management and credit policy changes are important steps in strengthening the FHA fund, by ensuring that lenders have proper and sufficient protections."

According to the Nashville Business Journal article, the FHA has become an increasing source of mortgages for first time homebuyers. The problem is that the article also quotes a statistic from the Mortgage Brokers Association, which shows that about 1 in 6 FHA borrowers were behind on their mortgage payments (i.e. in default). That is a 16.67% mortgage default rate.  In other words it is TERRIBLE!  This will ultimately lead to lots of FHA foreclosures and short sales.

While I would like to believe the FHA's statements about not needing a bailout, I cannot. Mark my words, the FHA will indeed need a bailout. You just cannot lend people 96.5% of the purchase price of their home in a declining market and not expect large numbers of foreclosures. Even if the market was flat the FHA buyers would have negative equity due to the cost of selling a home exceeding their down payment.

Due to the Middle Tennessee housing market having relatively lower housing prices and incomes than other areas of the country, there are a lot of FHA home purchases. As a result expect a lot of FHA foreclosures and short sales in Middle Tennessee.

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