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.
By Nate Berg
"America's aging population is already placing different demands on the housing market and affecting what developers will likely be focused on providing, according to Terry Holzheimer, director of economic development in Arlington County, Virginia. He's expecting to see more infill housing, more housing in areas that are walkable, and more pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods with high levels of services and amenities." Read more here.
By Daniel Gross
"Housing finance could be — and should be — more countercyclical. As prices rise, for example, entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which dominate the mortgage market, should tighten standards rather than loosen them. After all, they (and the taxpayers who stand behind them) have much more to lose when the typical mortgage is $500,000 compared with $250,000.
"In years when prices rise, they should demand higher credit scores or bigger down payments. By contrast, after prices have fallen precipitously, as they have in recent years, mortgage lenders should act in a countercyclical manner." Read more here.
By Rose Meily
San Jose Mercury News
"The Bay Area is seeing more improvement than other markets nationwide, but its lack of inventory is a problem, according to Rick Turley, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage for the San Francisco Bay Area. Turley recently told Silicon Valley agents they need to educate their clients about the real story behind their local markets." Read more here.
By Alison Gregor
The New York Times
"Hearing a tale of wildlife destroying crops is certainly unusual in New York City. But opportunities for urban gardening are growing as developers, particularly those building subsidized housing, provide land or roof space for herb and vegetable gardens." Read more here.
By Sarah Goodyear
"What’s sad is that children naturally want to walk and explore, and well-designed urban environments are inherently capable of providing tons of healthy stuff for kids to do... The evidence is piling up that walkable communities mean happier and healthier people. Are policymakers listening?" Read more here.
By Peter Schroeder
"Even as the weak housing market continues to weigh on the economic recovery, policymakers have struggled to find a way to boost it. The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), a signature piece of the White House's efforts, was aimed at helping modify up to 4 million mortgages. But when the administration announced in January it was extending the program for another year, through the end of 2013, it had helped permanently modify just 900,000 mortgages." Read more here.
By Kerri Panchuk
"Commercial and multifamily origination volumes rose 55% in 2011 with mortgage bankers closing $184.3 billion in commercial and multifamily loans in 2011." Read more here.
"When it came to government agencies to close, Romney minced no words and said the Housing and Urban Development agency probably would be closed completely. Currently, HUD contains the Federal Housing Administration, Community Planning and Development, and a host of other agencies." Read more here.
By Jacob Gaffney
"Morgan Stanley analysts say that nearly 95% of distressed homes are in no shape to rent out, in some key markets. Only a tiny fraction of these properties are less than a decade old, they add." Read more here.