A longtime critic of the FHA program Tuesday released a study of default rates in aging urban neighborhoods that she maintained underscores the program's flaws.
The report found that in Los Angeles, for example, 54.5% of defaults on FHA-insured loans from 1991 through 1995 occurred in just 11% of the city's census tracts.
The study also found that a handful of lenders showed up again and again on the list of 10 worst offenders in each of the 20 cities studied. Among them were Norwest Mortgage Inc., Fleet Mortgage Corp., Chemical Residential Mortgage, and Bank United of Texas.
The report was quickly dismissed by Robert O'Toole, the Mortgage Bankers Association senior staff vice president, as an example of longtime activist Gail Cincotta's finding "bad news in what is generally a good news situation."
The National Training and Information Center in Chicago, headed by Ms. Cincotta, trains and informs grass-roots organizations nationwide. The center studied loans made under the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development's FHA program in 20 large and midsize cities.
For two decades, Ms. Cincotta has argued that the FHA's practice of insuring 100% of the mortgage encourages realtors and mortgage bankers to make loans to families who can't afford them.
Tuesday, she said again that the FHA should insure a smaller portion of each mortgage-giving lenders a bigger stake in each loan.
She also proposed that as a condition for insuring mortgages the government should require that homes be inspected before they're sold and that major items, such as roof and furnace, be warranted for a year after purchase.
The government has funded such warranties in the past. But with government money scarce, Ms. Cincotta said she wants the lender, Realtor, and seller of the house to back the warranty.
In an interview last week, Ms. Cincotta said the warranties "would hopefully root out the crooks who were involved" in selling homes in poor condition.
"Mortgage bankers are reaching out and increasing the amount of business they do to assist minority and moderate-income people buy houses, particularly in urban areas," Mr. O'Toole said. He said the report "magnified" the problems of the FHA program.