Gilmartin is writing in place of Joseph M. Ventrone for this month’s forum.
Do alternative forms of homeownership, such as shared equity models and rent-to-own programs, present viable alternatives for future homeownership? Can they be taken to scale in a way that can encourage stabilization of neighborhoods and housing markets?
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The nation’s economy is inextricably related to the future of our housing markets and housing finance system. Similarly, stabilizing neighborhoods and restoring the strength of housing markets go hand-in-hand. It is hard to imagine achieving one without the other.
Underlying the stability of neighborhoods and the strength of housing markets is the indisputable importance of homeownership and, at this time, especially for those struggling to pay their mortgage and stay in their homes. As a result, REALTORS® believe that all reasonable efforts should be undertaken to help consumers keep their homes during this time of economic crisis through a variety of alternatives such as loan modifications and shared-equity plans. If necessary, the homeowner should be helped out of his or her financial obligation in a graceful manner by utilizing a short sale or deed-in-lieu.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has consistently communicated with major lending institutions and with federal regulators on the need to make loan modifications and refinancing more accessible for troubled borrowers. Moreover, while NAR supports the concept of shared equity and rent-to-own as alternatives to foreclosure, REALTORS® are open to discussion on the mechanics of the specific methods that should be utilized to accomplish these types of mortgage loss mitigation strategies.
William J. Gilmartin is Senior Policy Advisor for the National Association of Realtors.
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