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New law helps veterans, first-timers buy homes

New law helps veterans, first-timers buy homes

A new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday will help veterans and first-time buyers purchase homes. In this file photo, Ed Arnold, host of PBS So Cal Real Orange and a Marine Corp veteran, was the master of ceremonies during a Veteran’s Day observance in Anaheim. ROD VEAL , ROD VEAL THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Wednesday to make it easier for first-time buyers and veterans to purchase a home by requiring California condominium developments to disclose whether they are approved for Federal Housing Administration and federal Department of Veterans Affairs loans.

The bill, AB 596, was authored by Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, on behalf of the Orange County Business Council, which represents the county’s largest companies. The bill is the first housing legislation to be sponsored by the Orange County group, which has made affordable housing a focus at a time of soaring local rents and home prices.

FHA/VA loans offer lower interest rates and require down payments that are considerably lower than those for conventional loans.

“Interest rates play a crucial role in the affordability question,” Daly said. “It makes sense to highlight whenever lower rates are available to potential homebuyers. My bill shines a light on this for buyers and sellers as well.”

Only 30 percent of the state’s estimated 28,000 condominium projects are FHA-approved and even fewer are VA-approved, “pricing many otherwise qualified homebuyers out of an already expensive market,” said Lucy Dunn, president and CEO of the business council.

“By excluding first-time and veteran homebuyers from FHA/VA approved units … we are systemically creating an even more unaffordable market for some of our brightest workers,” Dunn added.

The bill stops short of requiring homeowners associations to attain FHA or VA approval. But requiring HOAs to provide their members with annual statements as to whether they do have those approvals “eases the process of those only looking to buy or sell with that criteria,” the business council said in a statement Thursday.

“Passage of this legislation is one step in the right direction to creating a more affordable housing market,” it said.

The business council has also endorsed legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, to raise more than $ 300 million for affordable housing statewide by hiking the filing fee for some real estate documents to $ 75 from $ 18. The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted in May to oppose that bill.

Much of the growing poverty in the county can be traced to the lack of affordable housing, according to the Orange County Indicators Report, a comprehensive annual survey by local philanthropies and government agencies, released last week.

From 2006 to 2014, builders supplied only 40 percent of the new housing needed for all income levels and only 10 percent of needed low-income units. That pace has picked up in the past year.

The shortage-driven high cost of housing, 142 percent above the national average, “will deter recent graduates, young entrepreneurs, and talented workers from staying and encourage them to relocate to more affordable counties and states,” the report warns.

Moreover, the failure to build affordable housing has led to a dramatic rise in the number of families that are doubling and tripling up in apartments as well as a spike in homeless and poorly housed children. Partly because of federal budget cuts, more than 100,000 Orange County households are on waiting lists for rental assistance.

The Kennedy Commission, an Irvine nonprofit, filed suit against Huntington Beach on July 31 over the City Council’s vote to slash the number of apartments in the area of Beach Boulevard and Edinger Avenue from the 4,500 approved in 2006 to 2,100.

In 2013, Huntington Beach was required through a state-mandated program to find sites for 1,353 units of affordable housing ranging from “very low income” – about $ 48,000 or less for a family of four – to “above moderate income” families, which make about $ 115,000.

The council’s June cutback, a response to public opposition to new housing, “severely restricts affordable housing development, contrary to state law,” the suit contends.

Huntington Beach officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact the writer: mroosevelt@ocregister.com Twitter @MargotRoosevelt

The Orange County Register – News Headlines : Real Estate News