Posted January 7, 2013
Throughout the week, the BPC Housing Commission highlights news items that address critical developments in housing policy. Any views expressed in the content posted on this forum do not necessarily represent the views of the Commission, its co-chairs or the Bipartisan Policy Center.
What We're Reading posts now include a compilation of useful links in the Housing Visualized section below. These resources offer the latest economic indicators, expert insight, and statistical trends related to the U.S. housing market.
2010 Census l Mapping the Census l Comparing Recessions and Recoveries
Infographic: Rental Housing Market Trends l Housing by the Numbers
Infographic: Household Formation Gap l Who Gains Most From Tax Breaks
Infographic: Housing's Economic Impact l Measuring Economic Mobility
Past Commissions and Reports l Trulia’s Housing Barometer
Credit Conditions l U.S. Housing Summary
Changes in Home Prices l Wells Fargo Monthly Economic Outlook
WF Real Estate & Housing Reports l Prices and Inventory by Metro Area
National foreclosure inventory falls 18% from last year
By Kerri Ann Panchuk
"The U.S. continues to watch its foreclosure inventory slowly evaporate as fewer homes make it through the foreclosure process. The country had approximately 1.2 million homes, or 3% of all properties with a mortgage, in its national foreclosure inventory in November, a sharp 18% drop from a year ago, CoreLogic said." Read more here.
Five Housing Issues to Watch in 2013
By Nick Timiraos
The Wall Street Journal
"Credit standards should stay tight. While rising prices could serve as a tailwind, new regulations may lock in some of the defensive underwriting posture while impeding capital rules may lead banks to pare their lending footprint." Read more here.
Forgive and forget: Short sales saved from fiscal cliff
By Megan Hopkins
"One of the largest appeals behind the short sale is the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, signed by President Bush, protects homeowners from paying tax on the unpaid portion of their debt. This act was set to expire on Dec. 31 as a part of the fiscal cliff and had everyone in the housing industry holding his or her breath... However, much to the relief of the mortgage industry and real estate professionals throughout the U.S., Congress threw a ‘hail Mary’ pass on Jan. 1 and extended the deal for another year." Read more here.
The Recession's Toll: How Middle Class Wealth Collapsed to a 40-Year Low
By Jordan Weissmann
"Between 2007 and 2010, the median net worth of U.S. households fell by 47 percent, reaching its lowest level in more than forty years, adjusted for inflation... The pain families felt from the housing crash was exacerbated by debt -- loads and loads of debt, which Wolff argues they piled up borrowing to cover everyday expenses. In 2007, middle class households owed 61 cents for each dollar of wealth they possessed, up from 41 cents in 2001." Read more here.
Paper: Foreclosure Laws Indebted to History, Not Economics
By Nick Timiraos
The Wall Street Journal
"A new paper concludes that states never adopted foreclosure laws based on broader economic reasons even though they’re playing a outsize role today in what’s happening with the housing market." Read more here.
Why 1950s-style ranch homes are all the rage again
By Amy Hoak
"While it may be too early to call a trend, it’s only logical that there would be an increased demand for single-story homes among baby boomers and others, Melman said. About 90% of homeowners 45 and older say they want to age in place in their existing home, according to a study by the 50+ Housing Council of NAHB and the MetLife Mature Market Institute. And by 2020, nearly 45% of households will include someone 55 or older." Read more here.
How $25 Could Keep More People Out of Nursing Homes
By Lindsay Abrams
The Atlantic Cities
"When older adults are moved into nursing homes too soon, it doesn't just mean excess health care spending -- it means that communities are in many ways losing touch with important members who, with only a little bit of help, could still be living independently. A new study out of Brown University quantified how simple it can be to keep this from happening. For every $25 more per person annually that states contribute to delivering meals to seniors, it found, they can reduce the number of people in nursing homes who don't require most of the homes' services by one percent. So not only is it better for the community, it can be financially advantageous." Read more here.
Aging America: The Cities That Are Graying The Fastest
By Joel Kotkin
"For the most part, the oldest metropolitan areas — with the exception of longtime Florida retirement havens Tampa-St. Petersburg and Miami — tend to be clustered in the old industrial regions of the country. These are regions that have suffered mightily from deindustrialization and the movement of people toward the South and West. These metro areas now make up eight of the 10 oldest among the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan statistical areas." Read more here.
Innovative housing for the homeless being built in downtown L.A.
By Wesley Lowery
Los Angeles Times
"The Skid Row Housing Trust has spent decades revitalizing abandoned buildings and hotels in downtown Los Angeles' most destitute neighborhood to serve as shelter for the city's chronically homeless. But for its latest housing project, the trust abandoned its usual technique for a seemingly elementary construction concept. A 102-unit, $20.5-million complex is being built by stacking pre-outfitted apartments atop one another in a Lego-like fashion, limiting construction costs and fast-forwarding the project timeline. It is believed to be the first multi-tenant residential building in the nation to be constructed this way." Read more here.
Wall Street Sees Promise in Multifamily Loans
By Al Yoon
The Wall Street Journal
"Wall Street lenders are getting more aggressive bidding on multifamily loans to securitize in recent months, helped as the demand for their commercial mortgage-backed securities has cut their costs to the lowest in more than four years, getting closer to those of government-advantaged programs of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Administration." Read more here.