First-time homebuyers will soon get some help to offset rising interest rates.
Premiums on Federal Housing Administration loans are getting cut, a move that could save mostly first-time borrowers $500 a year.
After Jan. 27, people tapping an FHA loan to buy a home will pay 25 basis points (0.25 percent) less than they do now, according to today’s announcement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“It (the premium cut) will help borrowers a great deal,” said Dean Wegner, branch manager of Scottsdale’s Homestreet Home Loans. He said the move will help borrowers with FICO scores of 720 or below and down payments below 5 percent, pay less on FHA loans than conventional mortgages.
About one-fourth of all metro Phoenix homebuyers used an FHA-back mortgage in 2016, according to The Information Market.
The last time FHA mortgage premiums were lowered was in early 2015, when President Barack Obama announced the 50 basis point (0.5 percent) cut to the federal loan premiums during a Phoenix speech.
Federally-backed loans require premiums to offset losses to the government if a borrower stops making payments and defaults on the loan.
Mortgage rates have been rising since September, making affording a home a bit tougher for first-time buyers. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage inched up from 3.5 percent to 4.3 percent, according to Freddie Mac.
“The current price reduction may not open the doors completely to more homebuyers, “ said Amy Swaney, branch manager of Citywide Home Loans’ Scottsdale office. “But it is a step to help stave off the reduction of eligible homebuyers because of the almost 1 percent increase in interest rates since the election.”
First-timers are expected to be the fastest-growing group of homebuyers this year. Many housing analysts and homebuilders think this will be the big year for Millennials to buy instead of rent in the Valley.
If homebuyers in their early 20s and 30s come out in droves, they could propel metro Phoenix’s housing market to be one of the top in the U.S. for price and sales increases, according to recent national rankings.