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Obama's AZ Visit Centered on Expanding Home Ownership

PHOTO: President Obama is expected to announce cuts to Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance premiums during his speech in Phoenix today. Photo courtesy of the White House.
PHOTO: President Obama is expected to announce cuts to Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance premiums during his speech in Phoenix today. Photo courtesy of the White House.
January 8, 2015

PHOENIX - President Obama's speech to be delivered at Central High School in Phoenix today is expected to center on expanding home ownership for all Americans. White House officials say the president will announce plans to cut mortgage insurance premiums charged by the Federal Housing Administration, also called the FHA.

Michelle Lind, CEO of the Arizona Association of Realtors, says the move should put hundreds of thousands of potential first-time homeowners into the market.

"The National Association of Realtors estimates 234,000 credit-worthy borrowers were priced out of the market due to the high FHA premiums, in one year - that's just last year," says Lind.

Breaking down the numbers, FHA fees could be reduced by up to .85 percent, which could save the average borrower about $900 per year. Lind says mortgage insurance rates are the highest level in 30 years.

Julia Gordon, director of housing finance and policy at the Center for American Progress, says President Obama can also help by clarifying some of the FHA rules that apply to lenders. She says some lenders are sitting on their money because the government policies are complicated and unclear.

"They're worried, they're not clear on the policies," says Gordon. "Under what circumstances they might have to take back the loan, or the loan would not end up properly insured."

Gordon says the FHA can afford to cut insurance premiums because it is again financially stable after shouldering much of the financial burden linked to the housing crisis.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ