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On Arizona Visit, Obama Announces Lower Mortgage Insurance Rates

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Carolyn Kaster/AP
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During his visit to Arizona this week President Obama announced the lowering of federal mortgage insurance rates. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the move is designed to boost the housing market by helping first-time home buyers.

Starting this month, the Federal Housing Administration will lower its premiums on insuring mortgages for lenders. President Obama said that’ll save the average borrower more $900 a year — money that will circulate throughout the economy.

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Credit Carolyn Kaster/AP
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President Obama speaks at Central High School in Phoenix Thursday. On a 2009 visit to the state, the president spoke amid a crisis in the Phoenix housing sector.

“Over the next three years these lower premiums will give hundreds of thousands more families the chance to own their own home. And it’ll help make owning a home more affordable for millions more households overall in the coming years,” President Obama said.

President Obama cited an improving economy, Wall Street reforms and the creation of the Consumer Protection Bureau as factors that have bolstered the housing market. Also at play, said the president, is the $50 billion settlement paid by banks to a million-and-a-half mistreated borrowers.

But President Obama said home buyers themselves are key factors in the market’s continued recovery.

“These rates are for responsible buyers. We’re not going down the road again of financing folks buying things they can’t afford,” he said.

Before his speech, President Obama visited an affordable housing neighborhood in south Phoenix where buyers had been aided by the FHA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Phoenix housing market was one of the hardest hit in the county during the Great Recession, suffering one of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates. 

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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