What is Housing And Economic Recovery Act (HERA)

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) was created to address the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act allowed the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to guarantee up to $300 billion in new 30-year fixed rate mortgages for subprime borrowers. In order to participate, lenders were required to write down the balances on principal loans up to 90 percent of their current appraised value.

BREAKING DOWN Housing And Economic Recovery Act (HERA)

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act was ultimately intended to renew public faith in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It allowed states to refinance subprime loans with mortgage revenue bonds, and created the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). This new agency used its newfound authority to put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under conservatorship in 2008.

Subtitles Under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act

HERA included a number of subtitle acts under the main act. Among them were:

  • Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008: This subtitle act offered a first-time home buyer refundable tax credit for purchases on or after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009 equal to 10 percent of the purchase price of a principal residence, up to $7,500. It also eliminated the credit for taxpayers with incomes over $75,000 ($150,000 for joint returns). For those receiving the tax credit, repayment was expected over 15 years via equal installments through a surcharge on the taxpayers’ annual income tax. It also provided emergency assistance for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes.
  • FHA Modernization Act of 2008: This subtitle act increased the FHA loan limit from 95 percent to 110 percent of area median home price, up to 150 percent of the GSE conforming loan limit (or $625,000). It also mandated a 3.5 percent down payment for any FHA loan and placed a 12-month moratorium on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development implementation of risk-based premiums. It also prohibited seller-funded down payments while authorizing the FHA to insure up to $300 billion of 30-year fixed rate refinance loans up to 90 percent of appraised for distressed borrowers. Mortgage commitments made on or before January 1, 2008 were covered under the act. In addition, the act required existing mortgage holders to accept the proceeds of the insured loan as payment in full for all pre-existing indebtedness. Lender participation in this program was voluntary.
  • Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008: This act required all states to implement a Mortgage Loan Originator (hereafter: "MLO") licensing and registration system by August 1, 2009 (August 1, 2010 for legislatures that meet biennially). States were allowed to operate their own systems, subject to stringent federal standards, or they can participate in the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry.