Throughout the week, the BPC Housing Commission will highlight news articles 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 Alan Zibel
The Wall Street Journal
“It’s the question that everybody wants to know, but no one seems to be able to answer: When will home prices finally hit bottom? Analysts at Goldman Sachs predict in a new report (published late Friday) that the end of the crash in home values is actually within view. Goldman’s analysts, Hui Shan and Sven Jari Stehn, project that the national S&P/Case-Shiller home price index has 2.5% to fall before it hits bottom next summer. The Case-Shiller index of prices in 20 large cities is likely to fall 3.5% before hitting bottom in the second half of 2012, they say.” Read more here
By Jody Shenn
“The Federal Housing Administration is unlikely to change its stance of forcing homeowners with older mortgages to pay larger insurance premiums in refinancings as Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac loosen their rules to help borrowers lower their payments, according to Barclays Capital. The FHA, which backs about a third of new U.S. mortgages, boosted its annual premiums in two steps starting in October 2010 as it seeks to avoid tapping taxpayers for support. For borrowers with as little as 3.5 percent in down payments or home equity, the cost rose to 1.15 percent from 0.55 percent.” Read more here.
By Steven Sloan
“In response to criticism that Democrats were using a permanent tax increase for high earners to offset a temporary payroll tax cut, the legislation proposed yesterday would end the surtax in 10 years. It also proposes means-testing eligibility for unemployment compensation and food stamps, a provision Republicans included in their plan. Democrats wouldn’t require high earners to pay higher Medicare premiums, as Republicans had earlier proposed. The plan would require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to raise their guarantee fees by at least 12.5 basis points while allowing the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency to determine the details. The higher fees would raise $38.1 billion, according to Casey’s summary.” Read more here.
By Donna Kimura
Affordable Housing Finance
“Low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) investors and syndicators are much more reserved going into 2012 than they were a year ago. Several leading firms are no longer projecting growth like they did last year. Instead, they are conservatively anticipating their investment volumes to be roughly the same as this year. That’s a sign that the overall market may be tightening up after a big spike in pricing and drop in yields, a situation that could trigger some economic investors to stop or slow down on their investing.” Read more here.
By Justin T. Hilley
“Owner-occupancy rates of real estate owned sales are plummeting as investors who recognize their economic value are taking advantage of bulk transactions, a trend that nonprofits and trade groups are closely monitoring. New Vista Asset Management, a San Diego-based provider of real estate services for sellers of foreclosed residential homes, performed a three-year study that found 17 of 18 counties hit hardest by the country’s mortgage crisis experienced a drop in REO properties sold to owner-occupiers. The company tracked all real estate sale transactions closed in the first quarter of 2009 and includes consecutive quarterly data through the third quarter of 2011. The study included REO sales private banks, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.” Read more here.
By Emily Badger
“A significant – and seldom noticed – part of the solution lies with some fairly low-tech infrastructure: our houses, and the relationship they have to each other and where we want to go. A growing body of data has mapped the carbon footprint in sprawling suburbia of a single-family home, which is located nowhere near the grocery store, the job center or the shopping district. We can now compare that footprint to a multi-family home in a walkable urban neighborhood. And it turns out the gap between those two models may offer a serious – and perhaps more palatable – place to start thinking about the problem of climate change.” Read more here.