The survey's purpose is to measure the levels of residential mortgage debt and to provide data for assessing the effectiveness of the current residential finance system in promoting the goal of a decent home and suitable living environment for every American.
The RFS includes questions on the financing of homeowner and rental properties, including characteristics of the mortgages, properties, and property owners. Questions are asked of both property owners and mortgage lenders or servicers, if there is a mortgage on the property.
To some extent. For example, the Federal Reserve Board collects information on the levels of residential mortgage debt. However, it is from the perspective of the banking and financial services industry rather than the homeowner or rental property owner. It also does not cover all sources of mortgage debt. Since we collect information from both the property owner and the lender, we are able to combine the characteristics of the owners and properties with characteristics of the mortgages.
While different parts of the industry have excellent information on their own loans and clients, the RFS is the only source of information on the industry as a whole. Information on lending by individual investors or small groups of investors such as pension funds or real estate investment trusts is collected only by the RFS.
All the responses are confidential. Title 13, United States Code, Section 141 prohibits the Census Bureau from publishing data that could reveal the identity or activities of any individual or organization. The Census Bureau will prepare summary tabulations of the data as well as make available a public use microdata file. However, no single person, property or mortgage will be able to be identified in any product released by the Census Bureau.
Data that you are asked to provide are always safeguarded to protect your confidentiality. For a homeowner, rental property owner, or lender, your individual response may not appear to be very important. But we can combine your data with data from many other property owners and lenders to create national and regional estimates. Your responses will provide policy makers with answers to such questions as:
"What are the differences in the characteristics of the housing stock that is being financed compared with those properties owned free and clear of mortgage debt? Are mortgaged properties larger with more amenities than those that are owned free and clear?"
"Is the residential finance system in place today expanding home ownership opportunities to meet the needs of a changing population?"
"Are minority households less likely to have mortgages?"
"Can we standardize underwriting criteria for multi-family mortgages to make them more acceptable to the secondary market?"
"Is the secondary mortgage market meeting its affordable housing goals?"
No, it is not. It is part of Census 2000. The Census Bureau conducts the Census of Population and Housing every 10 years. The Residential Finance Survey has been conducted in the year following the decennial census since the 1950 Census.
Many organizations have endorsed the Residential Finance Survey. The RFS is supported by the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Realtors, the National Multi Housing Council, the Federal Reserve Board, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other business organizations and federal agencies.
Title 13, which authorizes the survey, also directs the Census Bureau to produce no data that could reveal the identity or activities of any individual or organization. Data from the survey cannot be used by any other government or private agency for any purpose. The law also protects from disclosure any photocopies of the RFS questionnaires that are retained in your records.
The RFS is a national survey, designed to provide mortgage data for the entire country. There are enough cases in the survey to tabulate data for the four Census regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West); by inside and outside metro areas and in central cities or not in central cities; and for several of the larger states.