Secretary Martinez has announced a new initiative as part of the Bush Administration's efforts to crack down on predatory lending. On May 1st, HUD published a final rule in the Federal Register addressing property "flipping" on mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
"The Bush Administration is committed to maintaining a strong housing market in which consumers can feel confident that they are protected from unscrupulous practices," the Secretary said. "This final rule represents a major step in our efforts to eliminate predatory lending practices."
Property "flipping" occurs when a recently acquired property is resold for a considerable profit with an artificially inflated value. Predatory lending results when home purchasers become unwitting victims of lenders, sellers and appraisers, often working together. The unsuspecting homebuyers either purchase homes with sales prices far in excess of the fair market value, or are substantially overcharged for costs associated with obtaining a mortgage.
The final rule, "FR-4615 Prohibition of Property Flipping in HUD's Single Family Mortgage Insurance Programs," makes recently flipped properties ineligible for FHA mortgage insurance. It also allows FHA to better manage its insurance risk by requiring additional support for a property's value when a significant increase between sales occurs. Features include:
Sale by Owner of Record: Only the owner of record may sell a home to an individual who will obtain FHA mortgage insurance for the loan; it may not involve any sale or assignment of the sales contract, a procedure often observed when the homebuyer is determined to have been a victim of predatory practices.
Time Restrictions on Re-sales:
- Re-sales occurring 90 days or less following acquisition will not be eligible for a mortgage to be insured by FHA. FHA's analysis disclosed that among the most egregious examples of predatory lending was on "flips" that occurred within a very brief time span, often within days. Thus, the "quick flips" will be eliminated.
- Re-sales occurring between 91 and 180 days will be eligible provided that the lender obtains an additional appraisal from an independent appraiser based on a re-sale percentage threshold established by FHA; this threshold would be relatively high so as to not adversely affect legitimate rehabilitation efforts but still deter unscrupulous sellers, lenders, and appraisers from attempting to flip properties and defraud homebuyers. Lenders may also prove that the increased value is the result of rehabilitation of the property.
- Re-sales occurring between 90 days and one year will be subject to a requirement that the lender obtain additional documentation to support the value to address circumstances or locations where HUD identifies property flipping as a problem. This authority would supersede the higher expected threshold established for the above-mentioned 90 to 180 day period and will be invoked when FHA determines that substantial abuse may be occurring in a particular locality.
Read the full announcement and other recent actions by the Bush Administration to protect homeowners from predatory lending and also promote homeownership.