A wave of recent federal actions could have impacts on the Lowcountry’s housing market.
One is mortgage relief and the other is a road block to a bi-partisan legislative action intended to delay some rate hikes in the federal flood insurance program.
Leaders of the House Financial Services Committee say they are standing behind last year’s legislation that is intended to overhaul the debt-laden National Flood Insurance Program, according to published reports.
That was the intent of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2012. The law reforms the program with new flood maps, erasing subsidies for policies and rate increases that average 10 percent each year.
Federal lawmakers recently crafted new legislation to delay pieces of the law for four years, allowing time to research the issue.
But, that legislation is facing some hiccups.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., wants to add the measure to an unrelated defense policy bill, but Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is restricting the ability of senators to offer unrelated amendments. Meanwhile, Republicans are unlikely to allow a vote that could give Landrieu, who faces a tough re-election bid next year, the chance to claim political credit, according to The Associated Press.
Inaction stands to sour the housing market, some experts warn.
Owen Tyler, president of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors, recently said the rate hikes “are impacting real estate in the Lowcountry.”
One key piece of the Biggert-Waters law stops transfer of subsidized rates when a property is sold.
Eousing experts warn the law could chill home sales since buyers will be forced to assume actuarial rate when they purchase.
The Justice Department and financial giant JPMorgan Chase finalized a record $13 billion mortgage settlement, which stems from the bank’s mortgage practices before the 2008 financial crisis.
The deal includes JPMorgan having to shell out $4 billion to help borrowers.
That means reducing mortgage balances, reducing interest rates on existing loans and offering new loans to low-income home buyers.
In an effort to assist struggling homeowners, Family Services Inc. is holding two free mortgage default clinics at 4925 Lacross Rd., in North Charleston.
The sessions, open to all homeowners regardless of lender, are held today and Tuesday by appointment only between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Those interested in attending can contact the group at 843-735-5522 to make an appointment or can live chat on website www.FSISC.org
Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.
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