Lennox's Real Estate Blog

sharing my passion for real estate

Shop Talk With U.S. Housing Sec. Shaun Donovan

with 2 comments

Last week I had the great honor of being invited to meet with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and Assistant Secretary for Housing and Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) David Stevens. The meeting took place on September 23 at the HUD offices in Washington D.C.

The meeting was arranged by Sen. Patty Murray’s office for the purpose of discussing the systemic problems facing the housing market and ideas to stimulate recovery. The meeting was also attended by Travis Lumpkin, Sen. Murray’s legislative assistant on housing issues. We discussed the concept of an urban down payment assistance program similar to the USDA’s program which currently helps households purchase homes in rural areas with no required down payment (more details about the program can be found in this previous blog).

Secretary Donovan and Commissioner Stevens acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges facing qualified first time buyers is not affordability, but rather having the down payment. We also discussed the importance of State Housing Finance Agencies and the need to renew high balance loan limits – which Secretary Donovan stated HUD has just come out in support of. The maximum $729,750 loan limit for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Federal Housing Administration-backed loans in high-cost areas will expire at yearend unless policymakers act.

Without an extension, the maximum loan limit would drop back to $625,500 on Jan. 1, which would cause a significant drag on the fragile market. According to NAR’s deputy chief lobbyist Jamie Gregory, Sen. Murray, chair of the Housing and Urban Development Appropriations subcommittee, has inserted language into a HUD appropriations bill to extend the current limits.

This meeting could not have happened without the direct support of Sen. Murray and her staff and I am very thankful to them for providing me with this unique opportunity. Sen. Murray continues to be an advocate for housing and she is one of the few in Congress that understands housing issues. It is my opinion that losing her presence in the Senate would be a huge loss to our industry.

On the flight back to Seattle I reflected on the significance of this meeting and any results that may come from it. Then I decided that the ultimate outcome would be if President Obama turned to Secretary Donovan during a Cabinet meeting and asked him what his plan is for re-establishing a healthy housing market, and Secretary Donovan responds with “down payment assistance for urban markets”.

As always, thanks for reading.


Written by Lennox

September 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

2 Responses

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  1. Lennox

    Many thanks for all your efforts on behalf of Realtors and the housing market. You are the BEST of the best. Thank You!

    Pat McGuire

    September 30, 2010 at 11:30 am

    • I appreciate your comments, Pat – and thanks for reading!


      September 30, 2010 at 11:35 am

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