The 2016 Green Market and Mortgage Industry Update

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Green MarketAs the future unfolds 2016 will be known as the year of bewilderment for many Americans and global market participants. 

The 2016 election will go down in our history as one of the most polarized campaigns seen in decades. No matter the potential consequences, it is what it is and Donald Trump is our new president. 

We can only hope that this dramatic shift of power will, as the Republican campaign slogan that supposedly tipped the election tagged, Make America Great Again

In the news, Trump’s Picks (15 out of 21 to be confirmed by the Senate) for Cabinet Positions has riled many stakeholders in the clean energy space; of special interest on the environmental front is  EPA Director pick, Scott Pruitt; and the current political scrutiny regarding Trump administration requesting names of all participants and documents on climate change.

Only time will tell if Pruitt and the new Energy Department transitional team can or will affect positive environmental change; including finding a solution for the 8 million tons of plastic waste entering our oceans each year (one garbage truck a minute). Our oceans pollution challenges can be dramatically demonstrated by the Midway, Pacific Island that has formed an impressive island of tons of plastics and trash.

 For more content on public opinion, New York Times recent article, How Trump Can Influence Climate Change is a notable resource. Hey, maybe they can send our garbage into space next?

It seems that many policy advocates are taking time to meet with President-Elect Trump and Ivanka Trump to push their climate initiatives.  Several press releases relating their conversations included an all-star cast;  Al Gore, Leonardo Di Caprico, and Bill Gates. The jury is still out whether these environmental and social justice activists will be heard and supported by our new administration or not

2016 Mortgage & HP Building Market Highlights At a Glance

Higher loan limits in some areas: The Federal Housing Finance Agency is raising conforming loan limits in 39 high-cost counties around the US. For Federal Housing Administration loans collateralized as Ginnie Mae securities, limits will increase in 188 counties. Fannie Mae new maximum loan limits will only increase to $424,100 (from $417k)  for most of the country; not much of an increase for regions that are not considered in high-cost areas but are experiencing high appreciation due to low inventory. 

FHA rolled back their debt-to-income (DTI) ratios and increased them back up to 55% from 43% for borrowers with a credit score above 620; 45% DTI for credit scores 600-619; credit scores below 600 will still require a 43% DTI to qualify.   This will help many homeowners who couldn’t qualify at the lower DTI thresholds.

Pressure on rates due to Fed hikeHigher rates could mean mortgages are less affordable, possibly constraining supply or leading to less stringent underwriting guidelines. The Federal Reserve on Wednesday moved forward with an expected interest rate hike and took a slightly more hawkish stance by saying it expects more tightening in 2017 than it did three months ago read more………

Risk Retention Increases: As of December 24th, private lenders must retain at least 5 percent credit risk unless the loans meet criteria for qualified residential mortgages.  This means that credit policy will tighten more as lenders are required to increase their reserves. 

Skilled labor shortage continues to plague construction companies.  High performance building is even more problematic as builders are challenged to find new vendors and sub-contractors that are skilled in implementing efficiency measures in buildings. 

Adoption of New IECC

Building Code Mandates Increase; The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) changes every 3 years and is adopted on some level in most states.  The code is meant to incrementally introduce stronger energy efficiency requirements and thresholds.  This is great news for building owners to reap the benefits of greater energy efficiency (more durable homes with lower energy bills).

In 2009 the IECC introduced performance testing of duct system leakage. The 2012 IECC requires whole-house infiltration testing (i.e. blower door testing). And now, the 2015 IECC is even more aggressive about energy efficiency requirements and thresholds.

In 2016, ten more states adopted the 2015 IECC.  These states may provide better options if you are looking to start a career in the green building industry or find more advanced high-performance, energy-efficient new homes.  The states include:   Alabama – Florida – Hawaii – Illinois – Maryland – Michigan – New Jersey – New Mexico – Texas – Vermont

Click here to view the map of all states current IECC Code adoption.