On May 13, 2014, FHA released its “Blueprint for Access” which offers a pilot housing counseling program as well as enhanced quality assurance measures. FHA hopes these efforts will expand access to credit for underserved borrowers.
The pilot housing counseling program is called Homeowners Armed with Knowledge, or HAWK. Homebuyers who participate in HAWK will qualify for reductions in their mortgage insurance premiums for FHA-insured loans. Homebuyers who complete housing counseling before signing a contract to purchase a home and who complete additional pre-closing housing counseling will receive a 50 basis point reduction in the upfront FHA mortgage insurance premium (MIP) and a 10 basis point reduction in the annual FHA MIP. Homeowners that participate in post-closing counseling, and have a track record of timely mortgage payments, receive an additional 15 basis point reduction in annual MIP. On May 15, 2014, a notice was published in the Federal Register and NAR will provide comments by July 14, 2014.
The quality assurance proposal offers more clarity and transparency to FHA policies to help reduce lender overlays. The agency is working on a FHA Handbook that will consolidate hundreds of mortgagee letters and other policy guidance into a single document. FHA also plans to introduce a supplemental national lender performance metric to complement the existing Lender Compare Ratio. This will provide a better assessment of lender performance. The quality assurance initiatives are expected to be rolled out gradually over the summer and early fall 2014.