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Despite challenges in the housing market, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) facilitated mortgage credit for more than 765,000 home buyers and homeowners, the administration published in its annual report to Congress describing the work of its single-family mortgage insurance programs in fiscal year 2023.

The FHA said its efforts included aiding more than 33,000 seniors who obtained a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage during the 2023 fiscal year.

“Purchasing a home is the cornerstone of the American dream, yet it remains far too out of reach for many Americans,” said Marcia Fudge, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “I am pleased to announced that in 2023, we helped hundreds of thousands of people enter the housing market, enabling entirely new futures for them and their families.”

According to the report, as of Sept. 30, the FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund maintained an overall capital ratio of 10.51%, a slight decrease of 0.6% compared with the previous year.

Bob Broeksmit, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said the capital reserve ratio is “far above the statutory minimum reserve ratio and is well positioned to withstand any economic slowdown.”

The total capital in the MMI Fund increased by $3.6 billion, reaching over $145 billion by the end of the fiscal year. Additionally, the FHA’s serious delinquency rate—the percentage of mortgages in its portfolio that are 90 or more days delinquent—was 3.93%, a rate similar to those prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m proud that FHA delivered real solutions this past fiscal year, including the reduction in our mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs) and policy and programmatic changes that expanded access to affordable mortgage credit,” said assistant secretary for housing and federal housing commissioner Julia Gordon.

According to the report, more than 82% of FHA purchase mortgage insurance endorsements in fiscal year 2023 went to first-time home buyers. The share of FHA’s total endorsements that went to borrowers of color significantly exceeded that of other market participants. According to the most recent available data, the percentage of FHA’s volume composed of mortgages made to Black borrowers was triple the rate of the rest of the market; for Hispanic borrowers, it was double the rest of the market.

The report also indicates that close to half of all rural home buyers who had low down-payment mortgages obtained ones insured by FHA.

“The FHA program is healthy, with a high capital reserve ratio and delinquency levels that are now lower than before the pandemic. We applaud the tremendous efforts of HUD, FHA lenders, and mortgage servicers in managing risk, originating quality loans, and helping distressed homeowners exit forbearance and stay in their homes,” Broeksmit said following the release of the annual report. “FHA’s move to lower MIPs earlier this year improved the purchasing power for many home buyers, but affordability challenges persist because of low housing inventory and high mortgage rates and home prices.”