President Bush did not mention Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act reform in his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, despite the expectations of some Washington insiders.One source said it is not surprising that RESPA wasn't mentioned, and that he still believes RESPA reform is a priority for the White House. At a Dec. 16 bill signing ceremony, the president said he supports the Department of Housing and Urban Development's RESPA rule to simplify the mortgage process and reduce closing costs. He stressed that RESPA reform is an important part of his agenda to increase homeownership. But the president only referred to housing in the State of the Union to point out that homeownership rates are the "highest ever" and new-home construction is the "highest in almost 20 years." Nevertheless, the president's budget proposal for fiscal year 2005 is expected to call for a new Federal Housing Administration zero-downpayment loan program and tax credits for developers who build or renovate single-family homes for low-income families. The fiscal 2005 budget proposal is scheduled for release on Feb. 2.

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