(Inman News Features) - The Mortgage Bankers Association of America and the National Association of Realtors praised Congress and the Bush administration for including several pro-housing provisions in the Veterans, Housing and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill President Bush signed into law last night. The bill includes a 25 percent increase in the Federal Housing Administration multifamily loan limits. NAR and MBA said increasing the limits will permit FHA's housing partners to develop new affordable housing units in areas that have become too costly for the FHA program.

The legislation also permits FHA to begin offering a new adjustable-rate mortgage product. The new hybrid ARM carries an initial fixed interest rate for terms between three and seven years followed by annual rate adjustments for the balance of the term. This product is expected to provide thousands of home buyers with greater flexibility in their home loan financing.

The legislation also includes $30 billion for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs, an increase of $1.8 billion over previous legislation. The programs include full funding for Sec. 8 contract renewals, funding for 26,000 new Sec. 8 vouchers and $50 million for HUD's HOME homeownership downpayment assistance program.