Monday, August 1, 2011

Washington Post: Proposed down-payment requirement would squeeze minorities

Comments on the proposed qualified residential mortgages (QRMs) rule are due to federal regulators today. One key provision within the rule is a 20% down-payment requirement. NHC has united with consumer advocates and the housing industry to recommend the elimination of this requirement, focusing instead on defining the QRM pool primarily as safe and sound mortgage products that include responsibly structured low-down-payment options. (See NHC’s QRM comments and the Coalition for Sensible Housing Policy.)

Michelle Singletary’s July 30 column in the Washington Post highlights the particular housing and asset-building challenges faced by minority households. She notes that the proposed 20% down-payment requirement would have disproportionately negative consequences for minorities and cites a new report from the Pew Research Center, which found that there is a major and growing homeownership and wealth gap between minorities and whites. The housing crash erased home equity across the country, but minority homeowners had a greater portion of their assets concentrated in their homes and were hit harder by the crash. Singletary observes that lenders know how to make low-down-payment lending work (don’t make the loans predatory, for instance), and that we still need federal policies to close the homeownership gap between whites and minorities.

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