Homebuilders speak out on foreclosure

The homebuilding industry believes that preventing foreclosures and keeping people in their homes are essential to stabilizing home prices, strengthening communities and getting the economic and housing recovery up to full speed.

The lower home values caused by foreclosed homes are forcing many homeowners “underwater,” a situation where they owe more on their mortgage than their home’s current market value.

The National Association of Home Builders issued a resolution on the foreclosure crisis. The association urges bank regulators to reduce the number of homeowners going into foreclosure by:

■ Improving loan modification programs, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program, to require principal reductions when net present value tests support this option. Principal reduction should be paired with shared appreciation or other conditions;

■ Implementing further adjustments to refinancing programs, such as the Home Affordable Refinance Program and Federal Housing Administration Short Refinance, to allow for greater participation; and

■ Requiring second mortgages be incorporated into the protocol for handling nonperforming loans and eligibility criteria for loan modifications.

NAHB encourages states to develop best practices for handling nonperforming loans so that servicers, investors and borrowers understand the rules. Establishing this protocol will ensure that all parties can take the appropriate steps in a prompt manner without fear of litigation.

The association supports efforts to persuade America’s financial institutions to take more effective loan modification actions and institute reforms in mortgage servicing to help homeowners who are in financial need that have behaved responsibly in handling their mortgage and other financial obligations to avoid foreclosure.

NAHB urges banks to engage in transparent and effective forms of communication with borrowers to avoid unnecessary financial distress.

NAHB supports alternatives to foreclosures, such as short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure, encourages states to make these processes more efficient, and urges financial institutions and their regulators to implement more effective asset sale procedures and more diligent property maintenance practices.

Further, NAHB seeks program and policy changes to reduce the inventory of real estate owned properties, such as:

■ Permitting for-profit companies to fully participate in all aspects of the disposition of the REO properties, including the purchase, management, leasing and rehabilitation of the properties;

■ The Federal Housing Finance Agency and Federal Housing Administration establishing financing options for builders and investors to purchase REO properties and increase the caps on the number of government-sponsored enterprise loans an investor can have;

■ Modifying existing federal housing programs, such as the FHA Section 203(k) program, to allow investor participation in disposing of REO properties;

■ Facilitating the creation of investor lease-to-own programs that can be operated at scale;

■ Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA revising their condo policies to provide needed liquidity to reduce the excessive inventory, such as flexibility with regard to owner-occupancy ratios, investor ownership ratios, presale requirements and delinquent homeowners association assessments; and

■ State housing finance agencies should be granted additional authority to assist troubled mortgage borrowers and speed the absorption of foreclosed homes.

Send questions to monica@snhba.com. For more information about SNHBA, visit www.snhba.com.

Rocky Cochran, vice president of construction operations at Pardee Homes, is the 2013 president of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association.

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