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LI misses out on $3.8M in FHA home loan savings: study

January 17, 2017--An aerial view of a row

January 17, 2017--An aerial view of a row of houses along Fortune Lane in Jericho. Photo Credit: / Kevin P. Coughlin

Long Islanders taking out new Federal Housing Administration loans will miss out on $3.8 million in annual savings due to the suspension of a planned mortgage insurance rate cut, a Hofstra University study shows.

The university’s National Center for Suburban Studies determined that local home buyers using FHA loans would have saved an average of $797 a year if a planned 0.25 percent cut in the agency’s mortgage insurance premiums had taken effect. The reduction was announced in early January, before President Donald J. Trump was sworn in.

On the day of the inauguration, the new administration announced the premium cut would be suspended.

The housing agency said in a Jan. 20 letter that it is making sure its programs are “viable and effective in the long term for all parties involved, especially our taxpayers.”

The FHA backs loans for home buyers making down payments of as little as 3.5 percent. A typical FHA borrower pays an annual premium of 0.85 percent for mortgage insurance. The Obama administration’s rate cut would have brought annual premiums for new loans down to 0.6 percent.

FHA loans made up nearly 30 percent of mortgages in Suffolk County and almost 18 percent in Nassau County, according to 2015 federal mortgage data cited in the report. More than 58 percent of local black and Latino borrowers used FHA loans.

Long Island “has some of the highest housing costs in the nation,” said Christopher Niedt, author of the Hofstra report. With the suspension of the rate cut, he said, the $3.8 million difference “is going to the federal government rather than cycling through the Long Island economy.”

The average FHA borrower has a credit score of 680 to 690, compared with scores of about 740 for borrowers using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, said Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance.

The agency typically earns more in premiums than it pays out in claims, Cecala said. The exception was 2013, when the FHA required an infusion of taxpayer funds due to losses in the 2007-2009 housing crisis.

Last year, the agency backed more than $245 billion in single-family loans nationwide. For every $100 in outstanding loans, the agency reported it had $2.32 in capital reserves, more than the $2 required by Congress.


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