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Reassessing FHA Risk

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Executive Summary

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance has doubled over the past two years and is projected to redouble to $1.5 trillion over the next five. Despite clear signs of strain in the FHA's Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund, a recent actuarial review indicates that the FHA will not need any form of government support. The authors identify four risk factors that make such a funding request more likely; the review underestimates how many FHA borrowers are underwater and in economic distress; it uses measures of house values that lower loss estimates; it does not incorporate early-warning signals of future losses that are available from mortgage delinquency; and it ignores potential risks associated with recent down-payment assistant programs despite higher losses on previous programs of this type.

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