WASHINGTON (Inman News Features) - President George W. Bush's proposed fiscal year 2003 budget would roll back U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mortgage insurance premiums on new apartments projects by 23 basis points to 57 basis points. The reduction will take effect on Oct. 1, if the proposal remains in the budget.

The National Association of Home Builders applauded the proposal.

"HUD Secretary Mel Martinez, Federal Housing Administration Commissioner John Weicher and the Bush administration have made the right decision--one that will ensure the development of much-needed rental housing nationwide," said NAHB President Bruce Smith, a home builder from Walnut Creek, Calif.

"This has been a top-priority issue for NAHB ever since HUD raised the premium tied to most FHA multifamily mortgage insurance programs from 50 basis points to 80 basis points last summer, so we regard the roll-back as a major victory," Smith said.

The builders? group opposed last year's premium increase and its economists reportedly conducted an extensive review of the model and identified several problems.

"Beyond voicing our opposition, we made recommendations for how the model assumptions could be improved and the funding concerns resolved," Smith said.

The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington-based trade association representing the nation?s home builders.