Public comments on the FHA Reform Bill in the Senate is closed today, October 22, 2007. Already passed by the House with an overwhelming majority, it is expected to pass in the Senate by mid-November. The Expanding American Homeownership Act of 2007 will bring about many changes to FHA loan origination. The most important changes are:

1. FHA Licensing – Elimination of Audited Financial Requirement for Brokers
2. FHA Loan Limit – Increase of the Low FHA Loan Limits

FHA Licensing

Currently when a small broker shop tries to get licensed to originate FHA loans, they hid a major hurdle. HUD requests that all companies have their financials audited annually showing a minimum net worth of $63,000. Smaller broker shops that do have the minimum net worth, often find it difficult to obtain audited financials since they cost around $5,000 to $10,000. They can also take several months to complete if your corporation or LLC has never been audited before. Up until now many companies have been forced to form a new corporation or LLC in order to reduce the cost of audited financials.

The new legislation being proposed will do away with the audited financial requirement. In lieu of audited financials, you can submit a surety bond. A surety bond is simple and cheap to obtain in comparison to audited financials and is actually safer for the consumer whom it is meant to protect. The president of the largest Mortgage Insurance Company in the nation told me yesterday that he has helped push this change through in congressional hearings and that he expects it to pass very soon.

FHA Loan Limit

The new legislation also proposes to increase the FHA Loan Limit. Currently the loan limit is at 87% ($362,790) of the Fannie Mae Loan Limit ($417,000) in areas with high median house prices. It is about 50% of that in low median house prices. The only exception is Hawaii, Guam and Alaska. The proposed increase passed by the house will raise the loan limits to as high as $750,000 in certain high median house price areas. This would open up FHA to assist many people in coastal areas where average house prices are about $600,000 and higher. With only Jumbo loans as an option right now, many people are finding it very difficult to obtain a loan due to the hightened underwriting guidelines.

The President is expected to sign the bill, but not at such a high amount. He has stated in public speeches that he does not plan on raising the limit above the Fannie Mae Limit of $417,000. Many people, loan originators, brokers, and borrowers are waiting patiently to see what happens in the house in November.