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Government moves to support those hurt by housing collapse

Mar 09, 2012 Philip Burgess

A major settlement with U.S. mortgage lenders will finance a government-led plan to increase the cost of up-front mortgage insurance premiums. The Federal Housing Administration announced Monday that it intends to increase premiums on new 30-year loans by 75 basis points. The move was in addition to similar increases on small- and mid-sized mortgage loans. "If the economy changes, if something else happens, we have to be vigilant here," FHA Acting Commissioner Carol Galante told Bloomberg, noting the possibility of further premium hikes in the future. "I don't want to be overly optimistic," she added. Also this week, the White House announced plans to extend mortgage assistance to investors who bought multiple homes before the market imploded in 2008. Property owners will be able to qualify for up to four federally-subsidized loan programs, but they must have plans to rent out each home or have plans to fill them according to the revamped Home Affordable Modification Program. Both moves reflect efforts by the government to stimulate the much ailed housing sector. Many landlords have relied on online tenant screening services to inform their rental and credit decisions.