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by Jace Stolfo
on Thursday, April 24th, 2008 at 1:50am.
The Federal Housing Administration, generally known as "FHA", provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories. FHA insures mortgages on single family, multifamily, manufactured homes and hospitals. It is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world; insuring over 34 million properties since its inception in 1934.
FHA mortgage insurance protects lenders against loss if the homeowner defaults on their mortgage loan. The lenders bear less risk because FHA will pay the lender if a homeowner defaults on their loan. Loans must meet certain requirements established by FHA to qualify for insurance.
Unlike conventional loans, FHA-insured loans require small down payments. There is more flexibility in an FHA loan than conventional loans in calculating household income and payment ratios. The cost of the mortgage insurance is passed along to the homeowner and typically is included in the monthly payment. In most cases, the insurance cost will drop off after five years or when the remaining balance on the loan is 78 percent of the value of the property-whichever is longer.
FHA operates entirely from self-generated income and costs the taxpayers nothing. The proceeds from the mortgage insurance paid by the homeowners are captured in an account that is used to operate the program entirely. FHA provides a huge economic stimulation to the country in the form of home and community development, which trickles down to local communities in the form of jobs, building suppliers, tax bases, schools, and other forms of revenue.
Congress created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in 1934. The FHA became a part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Housing in 1965. When the FHA was created, the housing industry was flat on its back:
During the 1940s, FHA programs helped finance military housing and homes for returning veterans and their families after the war.
In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the FHA helped to spark the production of millions of units of privately-owned apartments for elderly, handicapped and lower income Americans. When soaring inflation and energy costs threatened the survival of thousands of private apartment buildings in the 1970s, FHA's emergency financing kept cash-strapped properties afloat.
The FHA moved in to steady falling home prices and made it possible for potential homebuyers to get the financing they needed when recession prompted private mortgage insurers to pull out of oil producing states in the 1980s.
By 2001, the nation's homeownership rate had soared to an all time high of 68.1 percent.
The FHA has insured over 34 million home mortgages and 47,205 multifamily project mortgages since 1934. FHA currently has 4.8 million insured single family mortgages and 13,000 insured multifamily projects in its portfolio.
In the more than 60 years since the FHA was created, much has changed and Americans are now arguably the best housed people in the world. FHA has helped greatly with that success.