What questions should I ask a mortgage lender in Kenilworth ? If you’re dealing with a mortgage broker there’s some questions that you should ask both on your first meeting with the mortgage broker and throughout working with your mortgage broker to make sure that you’re getting the best service possible.
USDALoanInfoNJ is going to go through 10 different questions that you can ask your mortgage lender in Kenilworth. Be aware that your USDA Loan or Mortgage broker will be getting the loan that you need and the service that you want.
The first question that I think everyone should ask a mortgage broker is a pretty straightforward one.
How Much Will a Mortgage Broker Cost?
Most mortgage lenders in Kenilworth actually work for free.
So it doesn’t actually cost you anything in order to do it.
They get money because they are paid by the banks when you successfully get a loan.
So they get a small commission of the loan that you apply for and if you get it.
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So most mortgage brokers in Kenilworth will work for free and it won’t cost you anything.
However, there are some mortgage brokers out there who do require deposits or who do require you to pay.
So, it’s important to ask, “How much will this cost me?” when assessing which mortgage broker you want to go with.
How much do Mortgage Lenders earn in commission from me and from my loan?
This is less to understand exactly how much they make.
You can see what percentage of commissions they make and things like that by visiting USDALoanInfo.
But it’s more to understand whether or not they’ll be willing to give you this information.
A transparent mortgage broker is someone that’d be willing to give you this information and you know that they have your best interest at heart.
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If they skirt around this issue and they don’t tell you how much they earn.
Well then that would send out red flags for me because I can’t trust them to put my best interest at heart because there are some circumstances where one loan will earn them more money than a loan that could potentially be better for me but not as good for them.
So, I’m just trying to establish whether or not this mortgage broker in Kenilworth is someone that I can trust.
And by asking them the big question, the money question,”How much will you earn from me?” That’s a great way to understand whether or not you can trust the mortgage lender.
So ask that question and see how they respond.
Do Mortgage Lenders Invest Themselves?
Now, I don’t think a mortgage broker has to be a property investor in order for them to be able to get you a good loan and for them to help you successfully invest in property.
However, if they are interested in property in Kenilworth, if they do invest themselves, then that is going to go a long way to help you because they understand what it’s like to be in your shoes.
They understand what you’re trying to get out of this and they’ve done it themselves so they can help you miss some of the pitfalls and things like that.
If they don’t invest themselves, then I would want to ask them, “Have you worked with many people that invest in property?” Because as mortgage brokers, some of them just work with people who are buying their own home.
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Some of the mortgage lender folk who work with people who are doing particular investment strategies.
So, some might work with people who invest in positive cash flow property or who invest in rural areas, who invest using developments.
I'm Sarah Young with NAR GovernmentAffairs, and I'm here with Kathy Glover who headsup the section 502 Direct Loan Program at USDA and Washington DC.
So, I know that there's a section 502Guaranteed Home Loan program that many people are familiar with.
But, there's also a section 502 Direct HomeLoan Program that people might not be as familar with, but it's a good option for many rural home buyers.
Can you tell me moreabout the difference between the two programs and who might qualify for the Direct LoanProgram? Okay, so the 502 Guaranteed Loan Program isa program that's administered by agency approved lender.
So, all of the loan processing is done by the lenders.
The Direct Loan Program which is theprogram we're focusing on today is administered by the rural developmentfield offices.
The big difference is the incomelimitations on the guaranteed program, the incomelimits are a little bit higher where's they are much lower on the direct side.
For example, the average 502 DirectLoan borrower has an income of around thirty thousand dollars and they areable to purchase a new or existing home.
But, with such a low income.
So, if I'm a home buyer and I'm interested in the Direct Program, I go to my lender to find out about it or is there another process that I needto be following? So, if they're interested in a 502 Direct Loan Porgram, they should not go to their lender that would be for theGuaranteed Program.
On the direct side they should go to on of our local rural development field offices where they would actually collect andprocess the application.
make the eligibility determination andum prep everything for loan closing.
Okay, so, if I'm a real estate agent.
What other things can I do to help a potential homebuyer use one of these rural home loan programs? Are there other tools that I could use, or resourcesthat I could direct my home buyer to? Well, there's quite a few things that wehave on our website that could help a realtor.
Prep a buyer for a home loan with us.
Ourproperty and eligibility website actually contains all up the incomelimits for the program it also contains the rural areas that would be very important to makesure the loan is in a rural area they can find out informationthere and they can actually put in the customers income and determine which programwould best suit them.
So, I know that $900 million wasappropriated in 2015 for the Direct Loan Program.
Is thatenough money to fund all the loans that people might beinterested in the program this year? Okay, that's a very fair question.
Yes, that is correct, we only have 900 million available for the 502 DirectLoan Program this year.
We do not foresee any problems meetingthe demand this particular physical year.
Last year we were not able to um, use all of the funds believe it or not when we had just nine hundred milliondollars.
Should we get into a situation where we think we may be running out of funds.
We will work closely with allof our partners including the real estate agents to make sure they are aware funding situations before an advocate can sign a contract.
So, just to wrap up do you have anysuccess stories of a family that recently used the program? To give our members an idea of who, what kind of client they might be working with to use the Direct Program? Okay, yeah, I have I have a great storyof a young family uh, actually it was a single mother whohappened to be hearing-impaired.
She had a daughter, and she did not growup in a single-family home, and all she wanted was a home for heryoung daughter.
So, we were able to assist her andconstructed a brand new home for herself and her young daughter whichis great story.
We're really excited towork with, we are so glad you came in today.
And we're dedicated to providing moreresources to members on realtor.
I know we've we've committed todeveloping some are frequently asked questions that we can provide to ourmembers, as well as information that I knowyou're planning to provide on the USDA website.
Thank you for having me we're glad to behere and I'm so looking forward to working closely with your organization.
So I would want to find a mortgage broker who either had that experience themselves or who had clients that they had got similar deals for cause that way I know that they can negotiate on my behalf and they can get this deal across the line.
What details do Lenders need from me?
It’s one thing to call up a mortgage broker and just to get an estimate of your borrowing capacity but if you’re going through pre-approval and stuff like that, then you’re going to need to provide the mortgage broker with more in-depth details.
You might need pay slips; you might need proof of identity, all of that sort of stuff.
If you ask them up front, “What details do you need from me?” And when you go to your meeting with them you actually provide them with those details, well that just makes things so much easier.
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Remember, a mortgage lender is only paid once the deal goes through and once you actually get financing.
So the easier you make it for them, the more likely you are going to get better service.
What can I do as a client to make this go as smoothly as possible?
You have the goal of getting financed for your property, the mortgage lender has a goal of you getting financed for your property and no one wants it to be difficult.
And so, if you can ask the mortgage broker, “Look, how can I work with you? How can I make things easy for you?” They’re the experts; they know what they’re doing.
They can tell you exactly what they need and then you can work hard to provide that for them so that they can get everything across the line as quickly as possible.
You know, I have customers,I deal with customers and even though I’m not a mortgage broker myself, I know that when there’s difficult customers that you don’t want to deal with, it just makes life so much harder and you don’t want to work hard for those people.
And when there’s customers who are really nice to you and who try really hard to help you provide them with the service you provide, you will bend over backwards to do anything you can for those customers to get them across the line, to help them as much as possible.
So, be one of those customers that the mortgage broker wants to bend over backwards to help you because you have their interest at heart as well.
You want to see them get paid.
You want to see them do an easy mortgage so they get paid easily.
And so you can develop a relationship into the future.
Which lenders can I borrow the most from?
Most people go into a mortgage broker looking for the cheapest interest rate possible.
What is the cheapest interest rate I can get? And the fact of the matter is a mortgage broker is likely to show you the banks that will lend you the amount of money you need and will also have the cheapest interest rate as well.
However, they might not showy ou banks that will lend you more money than you potentially need at the moment.
Now, it’s important to ask, “Which lenders can I borrow the most from?” because this will help you to project into the future.
Maybe you don’t need to know that for this loan right now but maybe, in the future, you might need to borrow money again and you know, or roughly my borrowing capacity is this.
Or if you find out which lenders you can borrow more from, and you find that you can actually borrow an extra $300,000, well you might split up your deposit and invest in two investment properties instead of just one.
And so asking them, “Which lenders can I borrow the most from?” is a great question to ask to really understand your position.
Because, yes, interest rate is important but how much you can borrow is also important as well.
Can I see a full list of my borrowing options?
Most mortgage brokers will provide you with, usually, like a top three or sometimes only a top one.
And I always like to think, “Can I see a full list of my borrowing options?”Again, this is less to say you want to go through all of this in minute detail and see.
You’re probably going to still choose from one of the top three ones.
But you just want to see that they’re giving you the full amount of information.
And most mortgage brokers are good people but there are some dodgy mortgage brokers out there who are just trying to get the deal that gives them the biggest commission.
And so by asking to see a full list of what your borrowing options, you can then look at that and you can then assess, “Okay, well which loan do I think is going to be best for me?” rather than just taking the recommendation of the mortgage broker who may or may not be thinking about themselves.
So, again, most mortgage brokers are great people out there to help you but it’s always a good idea to get a full list of your borrowing options that are available.
Will this put a mark against my credit file?
And so this is when you’re trying to work out how much you’re going to borrow and stuff like that.
When you go into a bank and you try and find out how much you can borrow, often, the bank will do a credit check and this puts a mark against your credit file.
And what happens is if you have a lot of these marks against your credit file, even though it’s nothing bad, this can actually stop you getting a loan.
So, talk to your mortgage broker and when you’re looking at, “What can I borrow?”or your looking at getting pre-approval, just understand, “Will this put a mark against my credit file?” ‘Cause it’s not bad to have a couple or whatever.
But if you’re getting lots and lots of marks against your credit file, then that could be an issue.
So just make sure and you know when a mark’s being put against your credit file and when a mark isn’t being put against your credit file.
How soon can I revalue or borrow again?
So if you’re investing in a property to renovate it or to develop it or even if you’re investing in a property that’s potentially under market value, you want to know how quickly can you revalue that property so you can get equity and then hopefully draw equity out of the property to go ahead and invest again.
There are a lot of lenders out there who don’t allow you to revalue within a 12-month period.
So, speak to your mortgage broker about the lenders that will allow you to revalue faster.
And basically, this will give you an idea of how quickly you can revalue to consider going again.
You’re also going to want to ask them, “After I invest in this property, how soon can I borrow again or what do I need to do to put myself in a position to be able to borrow again and to purchase the next property?” Because hopefully, your goal isn’t just to purchase one property but to grow your property portfolio and to achieve that financial freedom and that financial security that you’re striving for.
Will My Loans be ‘cross-collateralised’?
Now, I have heard a lot of stories about investors whose loans have been cross-collateralised and it’s cause major problems when they’ve gone and sold their property because the bank shave been able to take that money and pay off debt.
And basically, you want to avoid this at all costs from what I hear.
And so, it’s good to ask your mortgage broker, “Will my loans be cross-collateralised in any way?” Generally going with the same lender for two loans does it by default, even though it doesn’t say they’re cross-collateralised.
So, it’s just something that you want to look at the fine print, you want to understand, “Are these cross-collateralised?” And if they are, try and avoid it, try and get loans that aren’t going to be cross-collateralised.
So there you have some questions to ask your mortgage broker next time you go and see a broker to find out how much you can borrow or get pre-approval or get financed for another property.
If you are in the market, looking at properties and you want to see some high rental yield properties, then I’ve got 10 property listings that I’ve gone out and found for you guys.
You can see what high rental yield properties look like that are likely to generate a positive cash flow.
Did You Know – You Can Get Pre-Approved for a USDA Loan in Kenilworth?
Hi everybody, your real estate expert, LanceMohr. And in this series, I'm talking about how to buy a house. Today, I'm going to talkabout how to pick a mortgage lender. If you don't need financing, don't worry aboutwatching this video unless you just want more information. Alright, so how to pick a lender. First off, if you've already chosen a real estate agent, this is a good place to start. You could also ask some friends and family members, co-workers, get an idea who theywould choose. Now personally, I was in the mortgage banking industry for several yearsand I was a co-owner of a mortgage company. There's three types of lenders out there;number one is your big bank, your Bank of America, Wells Fargo and then you have yourmortgage bankers and then you have your mortgage brokers. Now I'm not a real big fan of thebig banks or credit unions for that matter. I think there's a lot of credit unions thatare really good, don't get me wrong and I'm not saying that there is anything wrong withbig banks. I'm not a fan of them and the reason is – the reason why I don't like big banksis because if you go into a bank like Bank of America or say a Wells Fargo, you are onlyusing their money. So if you go in and you have a very unusual circumstance and maybeyou don't qualify for their loan, they're not going to tell you "you don't qualify forour loan, go somewhere else". They're just going to say, "You don't qualify for a loan. Sorry. " Now you may go to a mortgage banker or a broker and qualify for theirs. So that's the problem, they are very, very limited because they only lend their money. If you are round, you're not going to be able to fit in their square hole. So it's not areally good way. Now if you do use a bank, if you say Bank of America which I'm not afan at all, I haven't had them close a transaction on time in years, if they even close it atall. So I got to say that, the only bank I can say that about. But let's say you go toa Wells Fargo or you go to a Bank of America, always try to use a local loan office or don'tuse someone out of state, because you've heard of the term, "out-of-state, out of mind","out of area, out of mind". That's really how it is. You want someone local that knowsthe local ways in Florida, and more specifically I'm in Florida, I'm in Tampa, so the cityyou live in. So that would be my first personal recommendation and I know a lot of lendersout there might be getting mad if they're watching this right now, especially if theywork for Bank of America. But that's my opinion, I've worked with a lot of credit unions whenI was in the lending business and certainly not all of them. Credit unions, the good thingis they really care about their customer. The problem is they don't really do a lotof training to their loan officers unfortunately. And you know, a lot of times when you're goinginto and getting a loan with a bank or credit union, a lot of times the loan officer ison a salary plus bonuses, and you want someone who, if they don't get you a loan, they don'tget paid any money. That's the best way you are going to get a loan. So I am a big fanof bankers. Now really the difference between a bankerand a broker, is a banker lends their own money and will underwrite the file, usuallyin-house. They are also called correspondent lenders. Now I've worked for bankers before,and if bankers just don't have a competitive program – let's say you go in and maybeyou are a veteran and they're not real competitive on VA loans, let's just say. They will usuallyhave brokers that they work with as well as and they could do different things. So theyare usually good. Brokers, I've worked for brokers when I wasn't lending as well andit's the same thing, but the difference is brokers have access to dozens and dozens oflenders. Don't get fooled by that. Most brokers only have about 5 to 7 lenders they work withat any given time; they might have a lender for their conventional financing, they havea lender for their government financing, they have a lender for their jumbo finances. So don't get caught up into all that. But the difference between bankers and brokers,if they don't find a way to say yes, they don't get paid. And a lot of time what peoplewill do, is they will go out and they will be picking say maybe three companies, andthey will call up for a rate quote. But you really, when you are calling up for a ratequote, you need to ask very specific questions and you need to do it all on the same day. Because you could call one institution on Tuesday and rates could have changed up ordown on Wednesday. And then you need to call the same day, you need to give the same parametersfor each one of them, "So I'm calling, I want to get a loan amount of $200,000 and what'syour rate lock?" Now I'm not a big advocate of going around and doing rate shopping becauseat the end of the day, lenders all get their money from the same place at the same price. If you call 10 lenders, probably nine of them are going to give you the same quote for themost part. Now banks will generally be a little bit more in the interest rate, but less inthe fees because everything is in-house, where a broker, they get their pricing at wholesale. So there you could usually be more competitive on the interest rates, but they are a littlehigher on closing costs because they have to sort of outsource it and get it underwrittenover here in the process and all that stuff. So get the information and call them all up,talk to them, ask them again the question, why should I work with you, what makes youdifferent, what makes your company different. Whatever you do, whatever they tell you, onceyou lock in the rate, get a rate lock. You don't want to be on different pages and theytell you one interest rate and then all of the sudden, you show up at closing and it'sa completely different interest rate, maybe it's a quarter percent higher. Because theseller doesn't really care about your loan, all they know is you have to close. So getit in writing from the lender, I can't tell you how many people – when I used to bein lending, pretty much everybody that I worked with, I always put everything in writing. No one ever asked me but I wanted it all in writing for the documentation. So always askfor it in writing and really try to take the person who you feel is looking out for yourbest interest, because at the end of the day, you could have the best interest rate in theworld, but if you are on the wrong loan program, the interest rate is sort of irrelevant. SoI hope this helps you. Leave a comment, if you have any questions, if you have anythingto say, you work for Bank of America – please leave a comment because I think it's goingto be real nice, but it is what it is. And if you like my videos, subscribe to my channel,give me a thumbs up. I appreciate it. I wish you the best of luck in buying a home. Havea great day.
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Devon Marisa ZuegelBlockedUnblockFollowFollowingJul 30, 2017The government exercises tremendous power over residential design in the US. Its influence is nearly invisible, because it works through complex financing programs, insurance incentives, and secondary markets. These mechanisms go unnoticed, but their effect is hard to miss — they remade the United States into a nation of sprawling suburbs.This is the second post in a series about government policies that encouraged suburban growth in the US. You can find the first post here.What image springs to mind when you picture “federally subsidized housing”? Most people imagine a low-income public housing tower, a homeless shelter, or a shoddy apartment building.Nope — suburban homeowners are the single biggest recipient of housing subsidies. As a result, suburbs dominate housing in the United States. For decades, federal finance regulations incentivized single-family homes through three key mechanisms:Insurance,National mortgage markets, andNew standards for debt structuringThe housing market hides these details from the typical home buyer. As a result, most people are unaware of these subsidies. But their effects are striking — they determined the location and shape of development across America for generations.A New Deal to restore the housing industryDebt has a negative connotation these days. Credit cards, student loans, and auto loans are the anchors that keep many Americans in debt for most of their life. Meanwhile, we view mortgages very differently — they are seen as an investment, a symbol of adulthood, and a sign of financial stability.This was not always the case. In the early 1900s, mortgages were just like any other kind of debt. Nowadays payments are spread out over decades, but back then they came due all at once after a few years. Most people didn’t have enough cash at the end of the term. It was standard to pay back some and negotiate a new loan for whatever they still owed.This worked fine while the economy was booming, but investors refused to renew the loans after the 1929 stock market crash. Homeowners missed payments, and foreclosure rates doubled. The housing industry collapsed, taking the economy down with it.New Deal policymakers realized that restoring the economy depended on restoring the housing sector. In 1934, they created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) with two key mandates:Revive the housing market, andMake homeownership attainable for more AmericansIn pursuing these goals, the FHA determined the design, structure, and location of new private development. In turn, it made suburbia the dominant form of housing in the United States.The FHA seems dry and technical, but its implications are immense. It provides insurance on mortgages that meet certain criteria, repaying the principal to lenders if borrowers default. We take the program for granted now, but in 1934 it was radical. While most Depression-era initiatives infused the economy with money, the FHA was unique in that it did not spend a dime to stimulate the housing market. Rather, it boosted the lenders’ confidence in the stability in the market.It mandated low interest rates, so investors’ returns weren’t as high as they had been, but risks were nonexistent. Lenders had been spooked by the crash, but they came rushing back with the promise of guaranteed profits. The FHA created a space for the private market to act, and in doing so it unleashed vast amounts of private capital. Government programs like the PWA or HOLC were tiny in comparison.“The most ambitious suburbanization plan in US history”By making an offer lenders couldn’t refuse, the FHA exercised tremendous power over residential design. Mortgages had to meet an opinionated set of criteria to qualify for the federal insurance. Lenders could invest in mortgages not covered by the program, but they had a strong preference for homes that conformed to the guidelines. Compliance was mandatory for the insurance, so they pressured developers to follow the rules. By 1959, 25 years after it was formed, the FHA had helped three out of every five American families purchase a home.By making an offer lenders couldn’t refuse, the FHA exercised tremendous power over residential design.FHA rules had implicit and explicit hierarchies of what homeowners ought to want. They had two key purposes: to stimulate the economy, and to constrain the market to only good investments. These goals — plus social assumptions of the time — were reflected in the FHA’s evaluation of a mortgage. The standards included:Large, new homes were given a higher score, because they increased demand for labor and materials. Older homes with small spaces didn’t create demand for new furniture. Features like long hallways and steep staircases lowered the rating, because they prevented easy moving of furniture.Homogeneity of neighboring housing stock was believed to indicate stable housing prices. To get the max score on the FHA evaluation, the manual preferred that a house be a part of “a sparsely developed new neighborhood … completed over the span of very few years.”Restrictions and guidelines in the 1936 FHA Underwriting ManualThe ideal house had “sunshine, ventilation, scenic outlook, privacy, and safety”, and “effective landscaping and gardening” added to its worth. The guide recommended that houses should be set back at least 15 feet from the road, and well-tended lawns that matched the neighbors’ yards helped the rating.The manual had strict definitions for how streets should be built.It prescribed minimum street widths and other specific measurements.It recommended a hierarchical network, with a major arterial roads interlaced with smaller streets. The idea was to separate through traffic and enable efficient circulation.It saw cul-de-sacs as the most desirable home locations, because they were most isolated from foot and auto traffic coming from outside of the neighborhood.The FHA thought this was a great investment.The guidelines favored auto- rather than transit-oriented development. The idea was that this would increase demand for cars, which were a growing part of American manufacturing.The FHA did not think that Greenwich Village was a good investment.The manual emphasized that suburbs must be arranged to promote strict separation of land usesMulti-use districts with “commercial, industrial, or manufacturing enterprise” were seen to threaten residential value. So, the FHA simply did not provide insurance for units where the first floor was a shop with residences above for most of the agency’s lifetime.Development like what you see in Greenwich Village and other traditional neighborhoods in east coast cities could not get an FHA loan. (These rules only changed in 2015.)“There would be no corner groceries; if there were any stores at all, they would be grouped into a single shopping center,” wrote Tom Hanchett in The Other “Subsidized Housing”.The combined effect of these standards was the most ambitious suburbanization plan in United States history. The FHA favored suburbia, so subdivisions became one of the most common neighborhood types within a few decades.New frontiers for suburbiaNew Deal programs enabled the expansion of suburbia into new regions, too. Prior to the Depression, mortgages were extremely local. Investors could not lend money from a distance, so capital accumulated in slow-growth areas and was scarce in fast-growing ones.In commoditizing mortgages, New Deal programs made possible a national mortgage market for the first time. FHA guidelines standardized home loans, which allowed lenders across the country to treat loans of the same rating as fungible. Since the quality of these homes was assured by FHA inspectors, “investors from all over the country would know exactly what a particular mortgage was worth”. For the first time, capital-rich investors could lend money to developers expanding into the south and west.The creation of the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA, better known as Fannie Mae) in 1938 took this a step further. Fannie Mae creates a secondary market by purchasing mortgages from lenders. It creates liquidity for these originators, which in turn allows them to underwrite more mortgages. The federal government created Freddie Mac (FHLMC) in 1970 to serve a similar purpose. The combination of these secondary markets and the FHA guidelines was in effect a massive financing of suburban sprawl, all facilitated by the federal government.This subsidized sparsely populated parts of the country, while disadvantaging older metropolitan areas.The government also set a national limit on interest rates for mortgages. It created a standard rate for the country as a whole, where before there had been immense variation. Mortgages had been far more expensive in the west and south than in the capital-rich northeast. The new standard rates made it artificially cheap to finance new development in the southwest. This subsidized sparsely populated parts of the country, while disadvantaging older metropolitan areas. It also coincided with the creation of the interstate highway system, on which we’ll go into more detail in an upcoming post.New markets for suburbiaWhile federal programs increased the geographic size of the market, they also increased the number of people who could afford a down payment. They did this by tweaking the structure of mortgage debt in two ways:(1) They decreased the size of monthly payments by spreading them over a longer period of time.Federally-backed loans required terms of at least 10 years, replacing the balloon mortgages of the 1920s. This paved the way for the standard 30-year mortgage that we have today.Borrowers focus on the size of these monthly payments rather than the total, so this made mortgages more affordable without actually decreasing their cost.(2) Federal programs slashed what was an acceptable downpayment.Before, the buyer had to pay upwards of 50% of the purchase price in cash, but with the FHA guarantees, banks were willing to accept down payments of just 10%.To reward G.I.s returning from WWII, the Veterans Administration (VA) offered mortgage aid as well. The VA insurance program was even more generous than the FHA, so by midcentury banks offered as low as 0% down to newly returned veterans. These set the standard for conventional mortgages within a few years.Harvard economist Edward Glaeser described the impact of “the mortgage subsidies that were explicit in the tax code and implicit in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae” in a Boston op-ed:These home-borrowing subsidies … pull people out of America’s urban centers. More than 85 percent of people in detached homes are owner-occupiers, in part because renting leads to home depreciation. More than 85 percent of people in larger buildings rent. Since ownership and structure type are closely connected, subsidizing homeownership encourages people to leave urban high-rises and move into suburban homes.By making long-term, amortized loans with low down payments the norm, federal policies made it possible for millions of people to buy single-family homes. These homeowners enthusiastically moved into the new mass-produced subdivisions to the west.An aerial view of Phoenix suburbsInvisible subsidiesOn the surface, mortgages appear to be a mostly free market enterprise. Buyers take out financing through a private broker; they find a home through a private real estate agent; and they purchase their home from a private developer. Some people take out FHA loans, and everyone has to deal with the pesky permitting process, but for the most part homeowners transact with private parties.The system masks a huge amount of government intervention. It isn’t evident to the average person, because it works through obscure mechanisms like insurance and financing terms. These don’t look like conventional cash subsidies, but they distort incentives, supply, and demand in the same way. Though these mechanisms go mostly unnoticed, they have transformed residential finance in America.The US is the most suburban country in the world. Most assume this is the organic result of individual preferences, because there’s little visibility into the ways that policy has shaped incentives. The reality is that government intervention played a huge role. Because these subsidies are complex and technical, it’s easy to forget their long history, but if we want to begin to understand the current state of the housing market, we have to first understand how we got here.Thanks to John Backus, Siyang Li, Chris Barber, Leopold Wambersie de Brower, Omar Rizwan, Tiffany Jung, Aurélien Chouard, Rahul Gupta, Barak Gila, Marcel Horstmann, and John Luttig for reading this over. ❤Notes, resources, and further readingI cannot in good conscience discuss the history of home finance in the US without mentioning redlining. This was the practice of denying loans to residents of certain areas due to the racial makeup of those communities. The FHA and VA pioneered this racist practice, and they set the standard for private mortgage providers as well. It was a defining feature of the US housing market for generations, and until recently it was ignored in nearly every major high school history textbook. Other people have given this issue far better treatment than I ever will, so I’ll point you to those, but I wanted to at least mention it so you can learn more about it:The Racist Housing Policy That Made Your Neighborhood from The Atlantic1934–1968: FHA Mortgage Insurance Requirements Utilize Redlining from Boston Fair HousingLouis Hyman’s book Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink was instrumental in writing this post. I originally picked it up as a history of credit in the US, but it went way beyond that. The chapter about home finance opened my eyes to the the government-created incentives that shape cities. It is what led me to learn more about the impact of policy on residential development and rethink deep-set assumptions about why our country looks the way it does.I nearly stopped writing this when halfway through I discovered Thomas Hanchett’s paper The Other “Subsidized Housing”: Federal Aid to Suburbanization, 1940s-1960s. It hit every major point I intended to articulate, and it introduced other ways that the government has shaped our communities that I’d never heard about. I decided to continue, because my purpose — to communicate these complex policies to people who aren’t finance policy nerds — was different from his, and new information has surfaced since it was published in 2000, but it’s a great resource to dive into more details that didn’t fit in this essay.There’s so much more interesting stuff to dive into about the structure, incentives, and outcomes of the FHA. I didn’t go into them here, but I encourage you to read more about it! It’s incredible how much they’ve shaped the US housing market, even today. You can find a full PDF of the 1936 FHA Underwriting Manual here.To learn more about the mortgage interest deduction:The Accidental Deduction: A History and Critique of the Tax Subsidy for Mortgage Interest from Law & Contempary Problems, Vol. 73Who Benefits from the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction? from Tax FoundationWays forward to more equitable land use law from City ObservatoryThe mortgage interest deduction: Its geographic distribution and policy implications from Journalist’s ResourceHow the mortgage interest deduction hurts our cities from MinnPostTo learn more about depreciation:Real Estate Depreciation and Tax Sheltering from Financial WebTo learn more about the capital gains exclusion:5 Things You Should Know About Capital Gains Tax from TurbotaxHomeowners get a big tax break when they sell: A capital gains tax exclusion from BankrateMore support for a real estate capital gains tax from City ObservatoryFurther reading:Street Network Types and Road Safety from University of ConnecticutTrump’s Industry, Real Estate, Poses Hurdle to Tax Overhaul from The New York TimesStarving the cities to feed the suburbs from Grist