On Tuesday May 13th, the Federal Housing Administration released its “Blueprint for Access” in which the FHA outlines a number of proposed plans to expand access to affordable mortgages for underserved borrowers.
Here at the Homeownership Center, we know that stable homeownership is an enormous benefit both for families and their communities, and that successful homeownership is possible through smart choices based on solid information and applaud the FHA for proposing the pilot program Homeowners Armed with Knowledge, or HAWK for short, which seeks to integrate housing counseling into the homebuying process for borrowers using an FHA-insured mortgage.
The HAWK program will offer buyers savings on their FHA-insured loans if they complete housing counseling provided by independent nonprofit organizations like the Homeownership Advisors Network here in Minnesota.
Quoting directly from the proposed HAWK plan: “To increase access, we must identify and implement responsible ways for creditworthy borrowers to obtain mortgage credit. This includes encouraging housing counseling. Responsible access can be enhanced by ensuring borrowers are well-educated about the home-buying and mortgage finance process.”
So what does HAWK mean for buyers?
If the proposed plan is enacted, buyers who complete Homebuyer Education and Counseling before signing a purchase agreement, and also complete a pre-closing counseling session, will qualify for a substantial savings on the Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) of their FHA-Insured loans. The proposal calls for a reduction of 50 basis points on the cost of the upfront MIP and a 10 basis point reduction in the annual MIP. PLUS, if buyers complete post-closing counseling and maintain their payments, with no delinquencies, for a minimum of two years after closing, they will see an additional 15 basis points reduction in their annual MIP.
According to FHA, the average FHA loan is about $180,000. These reductions could save buyers over $300 per year, and almost $9,800 over the life of the loan.
What happens next?
The entire HAWK program is, at this point in time, just a proposal and will be open to comment as part of the upcoming Federal Register Notice… so many parts of the program, especially the MIP savings, could change.
If the program proceeds past the comment period, which seems likely, FHA will begin to pilot the program in the fall of 2014. The Minnesota Homeownership Center, as a HUD-Approved Intermediary, looks forward to working with FHA on this program to more-fully integrate Housing Counseling into the homebuying process. We’ll keep you up to date as details of the program become available.
If you are interested in learning more about OTHER affordable mortgage options, some with low down-payment options or options for people with less than perfect credit, speak with a Homeownership Advisor today! Counseling is FREE and available to everyone in Minnesota.
Posted on: Wednesday, May 14th, 2014