WASHINGTON Lenders and borrowers should not expect further reductions in Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance premiums this year, according to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.
The secretary last week announced a 50-basis-point reduction in the FHA annual premium to make agency-insured loans more affordable. But he said that was the only premium cut planned.
"Right now there are no further reductions on the table," Castro said Tuesday.
Speaking at the National Press Club, the HUD secretary said that FHA officials are looking for ways to increase access to credit, but he declined to provide details.
The FHA is working on a "number of steps" to increase homeownership opportunities, but "those are not fully cooked," he said.
Castro noted that more Americans are feeling confident about the housing market because housing prices have risen for 32 straight months.
"We are seeing gains across the board and HUD stands ready to take this momentum and make 2015 a year of housing opportunity," Castro said.
In response to a question, the secretary noted the FHA is reviewing its condominium policies, which have been very restrictive. The agency will not insure condo loans unless 50% of the units are owner-occupied.
Castro noted that condominiums are an important and growing part of the real estate market in many cities.
"This is an issue that is on the radar screen," he said. "We are looking at what is possible here, but have not come to any conclusion about whether there can be significant changes."
Asked about the future of housing finance reform, Castro acknowledged its prospects are unclear.
"Nobody can tell that right now," Castro said.