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What We're Reading in Housing: August 21

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.

Housing Visualized

2010 Census l Mapping the Census l Housing Market Indicators 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 l Changes in Home Prices Wells Fargo Monthly Economic Outlook l WF Real Estate & Housing Reports

Poll Finds Voters Want Mortgage-Interest Deduction Untouched

By Matthew Cooper

National Journal

“A new study shows voters overwhelmingly opposed to changes in the mortgage-interest income tax deduction ? an idea that’s been widely discussed as Washington seeks to tame the national debt. According to the survey sponsored by the National Association of Homebuilders that was released on Tuesday, 73 percent of voters oppose eliminating the mortgage-interest deduction. Broken down by party, 77 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Democrats, and 71 percent of independents shared that belief.” Read more here.

GOP Panel Rejects Plank on Mortgage-Interest Deductions

By Andrew Grossman The Wall Street Journal

The battle pitted allies of the beleaguered real-estate industry ? who favor the deduction ? against some conservative activists, who favor a simpler tax code with fewer deductions overall. Party leaders also opposed the amendment, hoping to avoid a drawn-out battle over preserving a range of different tax breaks in the party platform.” Read more here.

The best case against the Obama administration

By Ezra Klein The Washington Post

“The precise nature of the administration’s misunderstanding was that the key problem was household debt, and until that problem was solved the economy couldn’t recover. But while it had a clear strategy for attacking bad debt in the banking system, and a clear strategy for attacking the fall in consumer spending, it never had a clear strategy for reducing housing debt.” Read more here.

Housing’s Fortune Depends on Apartment Living

By Kathleen Madigan

The Wall Street Journal

“For the first seven months of 2012 versus the same 2011 period, housing starts involving five or more units are up 41.4% compared with a 20.7% gain for single-family homes. Apartment projects now account for 28% of all new starts. Back in the housing boom of the 2000s, the share was 17.4% and in the more normal 1990s the share was 16.7%.” Read more here.

The Geography of the Age of the Housing Stock NAHB’s Eye on Housing


“In January, Eye on Housing took a look at the age of the housing stock. In that analysis, we found that according to the 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of owner-occupied homes in the United States is 34 years old, 11 years older than the median age found in the 1985 AHS. So it is clear that the U.S. housing stock is aging. And older homes are typically more expensive to maintain. Using data from the 2010 American Community Survey, the geographic distribution of the median age of the entire housing stock (owned and rented) can be presented. And clear regional clustering can be seen.” Read more here.

Foreclosures’ small effect on nearby prices

By Amy Hoak


“Recent research suggests that properties near foreclosures normally suffer falling home prices, but a new paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta challenges the claim. It’s the condition of the distressed property progressing through the foreclosure process that weighs most heavily on home prices in the area, not the finality of foreclosure itself, the study found. The negative effect on nearby home prices actually peaks before the distressed property even completes the foreclosure process.” Read more here.

Hispanics make up majority of new owner households

By Justin T. Hilley


“Across the nation, new owner household formation increased 125,000 in the second quarter of 2012 to 74.8 million from the same period a year earlier, according to the Census Bureau. Within that figure, white and black owner households suffered declines in formations, while Hispanics and other minorities amplified ownership.” Read more here.

Cautious Moves on Foreclosures Haunting Obama

By Binyamin Appelbaum

The New York Times

“The nation’s painfully slow pace of growth is now the primary threat to Mr. Obama’s bid for a second term, and some economists and political allies say the cautious response to the housing crisis was the administration’s most significant mistake. The bailouts of banks and automakers are now widely regarded as crucial steps in arresting the recession, while the depressed housing market remains a millstone.” Read more here.

Study Finds Connection Between Homeownership, Mobility and Civic Engagement

By Matt Bevilacqua

Next American City

“Does homeownership really encourage civic engagement? A study in next month’s issue of the Urban Affairs Review tackles the question. Looking at data collected from a group low- and mid-income homeowners and renters over four years, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill find that owning a home can indeed inspire someone to get involved with the community ? so long as the ownership is sustained.” Read more here.

Quote of the Day

“You couldn’t fix the housing crisis by fixing the economy. You had to fix the economy by fixing the housing crisis.”

Grads Locked Out of the Housing Market

By Karen Weise

Bloomberg Businessweek

“College students and graduates are saddled with almost twice as much educational debt as their predecessors a decade ago, a problem compounded by lower wages for young workers. Add the two together, and what you get is a generation of Americans who may be shut out of the housing market, according to a new analysis by Young Invincibles, which calls itself a non-partisan, non-profit advocacy organization.” Read more here.

San Bernardino Eminent Domain Proposal Arousing Concern From Mortgage Industry

By Ben Hallman

The Huffington Post

“Under the plan, Mortgage Resolution Partners would front money to local governments to purchase the loans at market value in exchange for a fixed fee of $4,500 each. Homeowners could then refinance at the lower value, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars each month in mortgage payments — while also injecting a shot of adrenaline into moribund local economies.” Read more here.

Foreclosures Have Caused a Lot of Problems ? Crime Isn’t One of Them

By Emily Badger

The Atlantic Cities

“The foreclosure crisis is thought to have caused all kinds of downstream consequences for cities across the country, leading to lost tax revenue, strained government services, broken community ties, increased criminal activity and even public health problems. But new research concludes that one of these fears may be only just that: there has been no direct association nationally between the housing crisis and serious crime. ” Read more here.

Fannie, Freddie Bailout Receives Revamp

By Alan Zibel and Nick Timiraos

The Wall Street Journal

“In the latest change to a nearly four-year-old rescue, the Treasury Department will capture all the profits that they post in any given quarter, rather than requiring a 10% annual dividend payment. They won’t require payments in periods when the firms lose money, ending a perverse cycle where Fannie and Freddie were borrowing from the government simply to make quarterly repayments.”

Read more here.

2012-08-21 00:00:00
“You couldn’t fix the housing crisis by fixing the economy. You had to fix the economy by fixing the housing crisis.”

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