Will McDermott is editor of Scotsman Guide Residential Edition.
Reach him at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acting as deputy assistant secretary for single-family housing
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
By Will McDermott
Bob Mulderig joined the U. S.
Department of Housing and Urban
Development as associate deputy
assistant secretary for single-family
housing in January 2015 and has
been acting as deputy assistant
secretary since June 2016. Mulderig
oversees more than 800 staff nationwide who administer programs and
policies that govern the Federal
Housing Administration’s single family portfolio of nearly 8 million loans.
Mulderig has 25 years of experience
in public-sector management of
affordable housing, including 16 years
administering single-family homeownership programs.
The FHA is stronger than ever
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been insuring home loans for more than 80 years. Working through
approved lenders nationwide, FHA helps first-time homebuyers secure loans through low-downpayment
programs, assists established homeowners in paying for repairs and remodeling with renovation-purchase and
refi-loan programs, and helps senior homeowners access the equity in their homes to finance retirement through
the home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) program. We spoke with Bob Mulderig, who is currently acting as
deputy assistant secretary for single-family housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,
about the health of the FHA program.
What is the current state of the Federal Housing Administration?
Considering that the housing crisis was less than a decade ago … FHA is in really remarkable shape today.
In fiscal year 2016, which closed last September 30, we had about 1.25 million people who closed on their homes
with FHA insurance. What I always say to the staff is that’s more than 4,000 people every day — every single
business day of the year — close on their homes because of FHA.
How big is FHA’s total portfolio?
The total number of people in American households with homes insured through FHA is now close to 8 million.
The total value of those loans is about $1.2 trillion. … That is only half of the good news story. The other half
is that we are experiencing historic low delinquencies. … Of the eight million loans — including, I should say,
loans made during the height of the housing crisis — the total percentage of [serious] delinquencies is under
5 percent and has been under 5 percent since last July.
What challenges are you facing at FHA?
When I talk about challenges, it’s normally in the neighborhood of resources. We are, by most standards …
a really small organization. Single-family FHA is just a little over 800 people.
And the other thing, as you may know if you talk to anyone in the industry, we have significant technology
challenges. We are dealing with systems that in some cases are 30 or more years old and are actually on old
mainframe computers. Obviously, they do not provide us the flexibility, the level of service that we would love
to be able to have in all of our systems.
What is FHA doing to help with housing affordability issues?
Of that 1.25 million [FHA loans in fiscal year 2016], that’s nearly 900,000 purchases. … Of that nearly 900,000,
more than 82 percent were first-time homebuyers. … People really want and need the FHA product, and it is,
I think, one of the most important tools to increase homeownership in America. One other thing to mention
on that is that minorities in our overall portfolio last year —both purchase and refinance — constituted almost
33 percent of the total number of loans other than FHA Streamline refinance loans.
We are serving first-time homebuyers at a higher level, I think, than the rest of the industry is. We are serving
minorities at a very high level. … FHA has always prided itself on filling a special niche in the home-purchase
market. We want to provide the opportunity for homeownership for people who would not find it outside of a
What can you tell us about the future of the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)?
I believe personally that programs that are going to address affordability of housing for seniors are going to be
increasingly important. … Our senior population is growing with each passing year — as longevity increases
and baby boomers are retiring — that number is only going to get larger. The need for affordability of housing
for seniors is only going to increase over the next 20 years.
I look at HECM as a key tool in that. In terms of the number of seniors who access the HECM product, it is true that
it doesn’t have all the utility that we might have expected, and I think there are a variety of reasons for that, but
… we’re working very seriously to make sure that the program has all the utility it can have for seniors while also
being sustainable for the insurance fund. It is a program I personally believe in as being one of the tools to allow
for affordability of housing for seniors. n