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 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.
By Nan Roman
“Sequestration comes at a bad time for those who need help to pay the rent. The federal government just this week reported that 8.5 million extremely poor households pay more than half of their income for rent – a number that has gone up 40 percent since 2007. This is not because they are doing anything wrong, but because there are millions fewer low cost housing units than there are households who need them.” Read more here.
By Jed Kolko
Trulia Trends Blog
“Even though asking home prices rose 7.0% in the last year, outpacing rent increases of 3.2%, the gap between buying and renting has narrowed only slightly. One year ago, buying was 46% cheaper than renting. Today’s it’s 44% cheaper to buy versus rent. In fact, homeownership is cheaper than renting in all of America’s 100 largest metros. ” Read more here.
By Nin-Hai Tseng
“As America’s housing market slowly heals, good news is pouring in from homebuilders: They’re building more; they’re hiring more workers; they’re building bigger houses. Still, some things haven’t changed: Renters (as opposed to buyers) are still driving the rebound of the residential construction industry.” Read more here.
By Kerri Ann Panchuk
“Freddie Mac, its servicers and the Federal Housing Finance Agency fell short in reporting serious servicing complaints from consumers, the Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Agency alleged in a report. The FHFA-OIG claims Freddie Mac and its eight largest servicers received 34,000 escalated consumer complaints between October 2011 and November 2012. Escalated cases generally involve allegations of servicing fraud and regulatory violations reported by borrowers.” Read more here.
By Peter J. Henning
New York Times
“Lawsuits by Freddie and Fannie would not come as a shock to anyone. A memorandum released by the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the overseer of the two mortgage-finance giants, recommend pursuing claims against the banks for what it estimated to be more than $3 billion in damages from the Libor manipulation. The three regulatory settlements to date – with Barclays, UBS and the Royal Bank of Scotland — provide much of the evidence Freddie Mac relies on in its complaint.” Read more here.
By Zachary A. Goldfarb
“On Tuesday, the discussion about how to replace the companies — and design the nation’s housing finance system of the future — kicked up a notch in Congress, where sharp political divisions also made clear that finding a consensus about what to do next will be extraordinarily difficult. Republicans and Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee agreed that it was time for them to draft legislation for replacing Fannie and Freddie. Yet their comments suggested a wide gulf on how they plan to do it.” Read more here.
By Cheyenne Hopkins & Jody Shenn
“Washington-based Fannie Mae (FNMA) and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac have been under U.S. conservatorship since 2008 and have drawn nearly $190 billion in taxpayer aid to stay afloat during that time. Lawmakers who don’t want the companies to return to their previous status as government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, are becoming concerned that political momentum for winding down and replacing them could erode as the housing market rebounds and profits soar.” Read more here.
National Mortgage Professional
“HUD recognized that there was a gap in knowledge about who owns multifamily rental housing, how it is financed, and the financial health of the housing. The nation’s recent housing crisis underscores the need to understand the financing that supports this important segment of the rental housing market, including the performance of the mortgages that support the housing in which one-in-five American families live.” Read more here.
By Richard Green
“This matters, because the impact of house prices on the national economy is asymmetric. Suppose if house prices all moved together. Then if national prices were to rise by 4 percent, house prices everywhere would move by 4 percent, and we could almost dismiss default as a possibility. But house prices rising 13 percent in, say Boston, might happen at the same time that house prices are falling by 5 percent in, say, Atlanta (that is not a forecast, by-the-way).” Read more here.
By Christina Mlynski
“While the goal is to eventually shrink Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s presence in the housing market, no current structure exists to take over the agency-dominated market. Recently, the Federal Housing Finance Agency outlined a plan to create a new business entity between the GSEs, which falls in line with the ongoing push for a single-securitization platform.” Read more here.
By Krista Franks Brock
The M Report
“Women are less likely to be approved for mortgage loans than their male counterparts, even when loan-to-income ratios are equal, according to a new study from the Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit research and policy organization. The disparity was more pronounced among certain races.” Read more here.
By Brena Swanson
“Life is comprised of major milestones: first day of school, graduating college, getting married and buying your first house. However, the graduating college milestone is turning into a roadblock rather than a milestone, the CFPB suggested this week. Student debt is the second largest type of household debt after mortgage debt. But, as mortgage debt continues to improve, student debt is becoming more cumbersome, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York asserted recently. ” Read more here.