NAHB encouraged by FHFA changes to Home Affordable Refinance Program but says more help needed, that government has taken too long to recognize housing is critical to job creation, growth

WASHINGTON, D.C. , October 24, 2011 (press release) – Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Reno, Nev., issued the following statement regarding today’s announcement by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to enact a series of changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP):

“It is encouraging that the Obama Administration is beginning to turn its attention to restoring the nation’s housing market, which is crucial for the health of our economy.

“Making more borrowers eligible for refinancing their mortgages by enhancing the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) will give a badly needed boost to consumer confidence. Enabling additional home owners to take advantage of today’s low mortgage interest rates in cases where their loans are greater than the value of their homes will give some households more money to spend on other things and enable others to at least pay their mortgages off at a faster rate.

“However, for the many families who have fallen behind in their payments because of the weak job market, the changes to HARP will have no benefit. HARP is only open to mortgage borrowers who have remained current with their payments. Clearly, additional policy initiatives are urgently needed to prevent foreclosures and deal with the inventory of foreclosed homes.

“In addition, it is essential to address overly restrictive mortgage lending standards, inappropriate credit limitations on home builders and a broken appraisal system that is contributing to housing price instability. All of these factors are detrimental to the full-scale housing recovery we need to rally consumers and get a disappointing economic recovery moving forward.

“We still have an enormous amount of work to do to repair housing. The HARP changes are a good step, but our leaders in Washington need to quickly focus on a broader range of actions for improving the housing marketplace. It has taken a painfully long time for them to recognize that housing is indispensable to the job creation and growth that have been sorely lacking since the end of the recession. The American people are losing patience and they expect far better economic prospects than those they are finding today, which stem in large part from neglecting housing.”

ABOUT NAHB: The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington-based trade association representing more than 160,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. NAHB is affiliated with 800 state and local home builders associations around the country. NAHB's builder members will construct about 80 percent of the new housing units projected for this year.

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