Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: HUD morale said to hit all-time low

Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news coming across HousingWire’s weekend desk, with more coverage to come on larger issues.

A reporter from ProPublica, Alec MacGillis, said in an interview that the current morale among the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development employees is very low.

In fact, he revealed a report that morale at HUD is currently at an all-time low under HUD Secretary Ben Carson. MacGillis explained one HUD employee he interviewed voiced this opinion:

“’It’s as if I had just walked out of this door one day and decided to become a nurse,’” MacGillis recalled the employee said. “’There was just the sense that what we do doesn’t matter if they’re putting in charge of us someone that has no experience in this area.’”

To listen to the full interview, click here.

Last week, reports surfaced that HUD ordered a $31,000 custom hardwood dining set for Secretary Ben Carson’s office. Later, Carson requested that the order be canceled, according to a statement from his adviser and media personality Armstrong Williams.

Now, the owner of the company that sold the furniture confirmed to CNN that HUD officially canceled the order.

From the CNN article:

Evelyn Sebree, of the interior design firm Sebree and Associates, told CNN on Thursday evening that the company had waived the restocking fee for HUD, so none of the agency’s funds will be used for the order.

Today, Black Knight released its latest Mortgage Monitor which showed increasing mortgage rates and home prices pushed affordability to its lowest point since 2009.

Since the start of 2018, the 30-year mortgage rate rose 48 total basis points, and the cost to purchase a median-priced home increased by $67 per month. It now takes an average $1,141 in monthly mortgage and insurance to purchase a median home, the highest monthly payment since late 2008.

Now, with a median monthly income, buyers would need to spend about 23% per month to afford their median-priced home, the highest share since 2009.

However, despite these low levels of affordability, Black Knight pointed out that it is still better than the long-term historical averages.

Here are some of the comparisons Black Knight pointed out:

  • 1% less of the median income required than 1995-1999
  • 3% less than 2000-2003 (before the sharp run-up in home prices)
  • 2% below those combined benchmarks (1995-2003)
  • Better than the 34% required back in 2006

The report also showed that while home prices already passed their peak 2006 levels, median incomes are 20% higher while interest rates are 2.3% lower than 2006 levels.

Everyone, this is a growing concern!

See also this article from this weekend that also sounds the alarm on home affordability: “Rising mortgage rates have reached their highest level since December 2016, a fact that 34% of home buyers find concerning or very concerning, according to a new survey from Realtor.com.”

Or this one from the weekend in Investopedia: 

Mortgage balances climbed 1.6%, or $139 billion, in the fourth quarter of 2017, and mortgage debt is up $402 billion from the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the latest data from the Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  Housing debt now totals $9.33 trillion, close to the $9.99 trillion peak we saw in the third quarter of 2008.

Meanwhile the Northeast remains in a state of emergency as a strong nor’easter continues to sweep through the area.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency over the weekend for four counties, Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam and Sullivan, according to an article by Mario Parker for Bloomberg.

Currently, about 182,000 New Yorkers are currently without power, according to the article. Now, New York, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts have all declared states of emergency since March 2.

From the article:

Strong winds on Friday prompted the federal government to close offices in Washington, temporarily grounded flights at New York’s LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports, and downed trees that disrupted service along Amtrak’s corridor between Boston and Washington. Nine people died as a result of the storm, the Associated Press reported.

But social media was abuzz with another topic – the Oscars. Jimmy Kimmel hosted the night and wasn’t afraid to highlight the deep topics such as the #MeToo movement.

Here’s a list of all the nominees and the WINNERS!

Ever wondered how the Oscars are made, and what they’re made out of?

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