During the past few months, the Columbia real estate market made an impact on the federal level. The Columbia Board of REALTORS® set out to change the definition of a "declining market" after Boone County found itself on the list.
The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) requires the two Government Sponsored Enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to require a higher percentage down for mortgages in declining market locations.
Carol Van Gorp, CEO of the Columbia Board of REALTORS®, led the effort for the change in designation. She learned earlier this week that OFHEO eased the requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to require the maximum loan-to-value ratio for a loan by five percentage points in declining markets.
"This is wonderful for first time homebuyers, who no longer will have to come up with an additional down payment on their first home," Van Gorp said.
Under the Fannie Mae policy change, borrowers can get loans up to 95 percent loan-to-value, even in markets in which prices have been falling. Prior to the change, borrowers could only get loans up to 90 percent to give lenders a 5-percentage-point cushion to protect against possible price declines in the future.
Freddie Mac has announced that they are eliminating their "Declining Market" designation all together and will allow maximum financing up to 95 percent in all markets.
The Columbia Board of REALTORS® questioned Boone County's designation of a declining market. With a 1% overall decline in the OFHEO index for the most recent two quarters of 2007, Boone County received the designation. However, for the last two
quarters of 2007, Columbia's rating was at 1.8%.
Van Gorp approached well-known economist Lawrence Yun to plead Columbia's case that it should not be on the declining market list. Yun was recently named among the top 10 economic forecasters by USA today, and is responsible for the National Association of REALTORS® real estate statistics and economic forecasting.
National Association of REALTORS® President-Elect Charles McMillan used Columbia as a "test" case to get the declining market designation removed. Local lenders and Appraisers gathered historical data which indicated that our market was not declining. McMillian hand carried statistical information to both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to review on April 30.
The National Association of REALTORS® agreed with Van Gorp's assessment. In a letter to The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), CEO Dale Stinton stated, "...we are concerned about the impact of the GSEs' declining markets policies that require a five percentage point increase in the down payment if the home is located in a declining market. These policies run the risk of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by stigmatizing markets, reducing demand, driving down home prices, and hurting communities."
The declining market designation change will be effective June 1.
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