USMI STATEMENT ON FHA’S ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS

Report Underscores the Importance of Private Mortgage Insurance for Low Down Payment Lending While Government-Backed FHA Financial Health Not Yet Out of the Woods

 

WASHINGTON— Lindsey Johnson, President of USMI, released the following statement on the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) “Annual Report to Congress Regarding the Financial Status of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) Fiscal Year 2018”:

“Today, the FHA released its 2018 Annual Report to Congress on the financial status of its Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF). According to the report, the MMIF’s capital ratio stands at 2.76 percent, up from 2.18 percent last year and slightly above the statutory requirement of 2 percent. The FHA, which insures roughly $1.3 trillion in mortgage credit risk, is an integral piece of the housing finance system. In addition to risks in the reverse program that still exist, the report also highlights that cash-out refinances continue to grow exponentially at FHA, comprising 63 percent of all FHA refinance transactions—as well as an increase in the number of mortgages with very high debt-to-income ratios. This year’s report underscores the need to further put FHA on more stable financial footing, so it can continue to serve low- and moderate-income borrowers who need it most.

“This report is the first under the leadership of FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery, a seasoned mortgage finance expert who previously served as FHA Commissioner under President George W. Bush during the last housing crisis – a time of unprecedented market stress. Commissioner Montgomery appreciates the importance of properly managing the FHA and returning it to its core mission and intended role in the housing market, which is to focus on borrowers who truly need its 100 percent taxpayer-backed home loans. We agree with Commissioner Montgomery’s statement in the Actuarial Report that one of FHA’s guiding principles should be appropriately managing risks on behalf of borrowers, lender participants, and the U.S. taxpayer. As of September 30, 2018, the MMIF Capital Ratio was 2.76 percent, slightly above the 2.00 percent required by Congress. While an increase from Fiscal Year 2017, this is a thin margin, and taxpayers should never be put at risk again.”

“The FHA has been and will continue to be a critical participant in the housing finance system, but its current oversized role and weak financial health remain a cause for concern. The FHA must continue to refocus on its core mission and scale back its expanded footprint that grew significantly during the great recession.

USMI also agrees with Commissioner Montgomery’s previously expressed views that private capital should play a leading role in guaranteeing low down payment mortgage credit risk to protect U.S. taxpayers and the federal government. Fortunately, there is a robust and available private market today through private mortgage insurance (MI) that is ready to help low-down payment borrowers become homeowners. Private MI  has successfully worked to ensure that creditworthy borrowers have access to safe, sustainable and affordable mortgage options for more than 60 years, and USMI will continue to work with FHA, Congress and the Administration to foster a more robust housing finance system that relies on a coordinated and consistent housing policy so private capital takes more of the credit risk in the housing markets.”

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U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI) is dedicated to a housing finance system backed by private capital that enables access to housing finance for borrowers while protecting taxpayers. Mortgage insurance offers an effective way to make mortgage credit available to more people. USMI is ready to help build the future of homeownership. Learn more at www.usmi.org.

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