Good news for home buyers: Some mortgage lenders will ease their standards Momentum is building in the new-home industry. Recently, building permits were rising, a sign that construction could be rebounding from weak winter sales. And builders will be considering first-time buyers. Previously, much of the demand for new homes has been from upper-end buyers, rather than those buying their first homes. Builders targeted wealthier borrowers, according to a government report, because many new buyers had lower credit scores and a harder time getting a mortgage. So they focused on larger, more expensive homes. The median price of a new home recently rose to $290,000, the highest level on record, because builders worked for wealthier clients. Now, many in the housing industry are encouraged that the new chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency says he will make it easier for more Americans to qualify for loans. Mel Watt, who in January took over as chief regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, said he would push mortgage companies to ease their standards. The overall increase in housing starts was also fueled by a jump in multifamily homes rather than the single-family market. Building permits for multifamily homes, including condominiums and apartments, are volatile from month to month. But the construction of homes with at least two units rose by nearly 40 percent this spring. Construction of single family homes was up 0.8 percent, reaching the fourth-highest level since the start of 2009. While building contracts for family homes have yet to take off like multi-family construction did, economists say the coming easing of credit standards could give the sector quite a boost. The housing market has struggled to regain momentum since last summer, but that could change.