President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union Address Tuesday as his Administration winds down. Many in the mortgage industry are eager to hear what the Obama Administration will have to say about the housing market—if he will address it at all.
Last year, President Obama barely touched housing policy, nearly avoiding the topic completely except for mentioning the FHA’s lowering of the mortgage insurance premiums that occurred last January. Instead, he focused the speech mostly on job creation.
In his weekly address this past week, President Obama noted, "The point is America can do anything. Even in times of great challenge and change, our future is entirely up to us. That’s been on my mind while I’m writing my final State of the Union Address. And on Tuesday, I’m going to talk about the choices we have to make to set this country firmly on an even better, brighter course for decades to come."
So what will this year’s speech consist of in terms of housing policy?
Mortgage industry professionals offered DS News some insight on what they expect and hope to be discussed at the State of the Union Address.
Bankrate.com’s Senior Mortgage Analyst Holden Lewis says that he "expects President Obama to wave in the general direction of reform of the government-sponsored enterprises, without providing details. GSE reform isn't something that fires up average Americans."
He continued, "As far as the state of housing in 2016, I expect mortgage rates to rise, but not much—ending the year under 5 percent for the 30-year fixed. With rents rising faster than house prices in many markets, I would expect developers to try to build more multifamily housing, if they can get the permits. We might see the clear outlines of a trend in which millennials buy condos and townhouses as starter homes, then move to single-family houses later.”
Snapdocs CEO Aaron King stated that, "During his State of the Union address, President Obama should encourage the mortgage industry to embrace technology that can keep borrowers informed and aid understanding, rout out fraud, and simplify the homebuying process to make it more palatable for Americans, which will help keep the housing market strong."
Alok Datta, President of Plano, Texas-based ATPR Inc., noted that “most of the changes in the industry in 2016 will be regulatory or compliance related. There will be continued pressure on margins, which will force businesses to explore innovative ways of cutting costs, in order to be leaner and smarter. It’s simply getting more expensive to originate a loan and this is unlikely to change in the next few years. What we as an industry can do and are starting to do is find ways to eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies through technology, process and resource allocation. This trend has really gathered momentum in the past two years and I think we’ll see that continue in 2016.”
“It’s easy right now to get caught up in the reaction to some of the more turbulent developments in the industry, such as the impact of TRID or the Fed’s interest rate hike," said Chronos Solutions CEO Matt Martin. "But when I step back, I see some real positives for the year ahead. There are enough positive indicators right now, such as improved employment and salary figures, to suggest the purchase market will continue to grow. We’ve also seen a lot of M&A activity recently. While that means consolidation, I also see hungrier, more innovative players in the market competing for share. Once the initial gloom and doom response to the interest rate increase dissipates, we will realize that it remains historically low. It’s even quite possible we’ll see some increased HELOC activity later this year.”
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