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What We're Reading: March 15

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.

Foreclosures Pick Up In Many States

The Associated Press

“Foreclosure activity surged last month across about half of the nation’s states, as banks tackled a backlog of homes with mortgages that had gone unpaid yet remained in limbo due to delays stemming from foreclosure-abuse claims.”

Read more here.

Bank Officials Cited in Churn of Foreclosures

By Nelson D. Schwartz and J.B. Silver-Greenberg

The New York Times

“Managers at major banks ignored widespread errors in the foreclosure process, in some cases instructing employees to adopt make-believe titles and speed documents through the system despite internal objections, according to a wide-ranging review by federal investigators.” Read more here.

A Nation With Too Many Tax Breaks

By Eduardo Porter

The New York Times

Click image for a larger version



? “Even if one agrees government should spend all this money to get Americans into a home, the deduction for mortgage interest is a lopsided way to allocate it: 76 percent of the total benefit goes to the richest fifth of the population…”

Read more here.

Invisible Handouts and Anti-Government Conservatives

? By James Kwak

The Baseline Scenario

“[The mortgage interest] deduction isn’t hidden in the sense that no one knows about it; it’s hidden in the sense that people think of it as a natural feature of the income tax that they are entitled to, not as a government spending program.”

Read more here.

Government Needs to Get Radical to Fix Housing

By Barbara A. Rehm American Banker

“Spend some time with Bill Emmons of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and you’ll question our government’s stick-a-finger-in-the-dike-and-hope-for-the-best approach to the housing crisis.”

Read more here.

New D.C. Green Mandate Could Have National Impact

By Jane M. Wolkowicz Multifamily Executive

“Multifamily and commercial buildings in Washington, D.C., may soon be going green. A proposal from the D.C. Office of Planning issues new regulations for multifamily and commercial buildings city-wide, varying by zone.”

Read more here.

Housing Lays Foundation for Rebound as Buyers Coaxed Back

By John Gittelsohn, Steve Matthews and Chris Christoff Bloomberg

“Six years into the biggest real estate collapse since the Great Depression, housing may become a net contributor to the U.S. economy for the first time since 2005.”

Read more here.

Demand surging for re-fis under gov’t help program

By Julie Schmit USA TODAY

“The Home Affordable Refinance Program, dubbed HARP 2.0, is expected to help more than 1 million borrowers to refinance at today’s low interest rates even if falling home values have left them owing more on their loans than the homes are worth.”

Read more here.

Boom-Era Property Speculators to Get Foreclosure Aid: Mortgages

By Prashant Gopal Bloomberg

“The government’s need to protect neighborhoods from blight and renters from eviction by keeping the current owners in place is outweighing concern that taxpayers will end up bailing out real-estate investors. “

Read more here.

When Living in Limbo Avoids Living on the Street

By Susan Saulny

The New York Times

“Forced by the harsh realities of the real estate market, lenders are increasingly likely to allow defaulting owners to remain in their homes ? a change in attitude and strategy that is helping to buoy some neighborhoods while further slowing the nation’s foreclosure process.”

Read more here.

Don’t Pity the Rentennials: Why Not Owning a Home Is a Good Thing

By Mark Bergen Good

“The housing crisis starkly revealed that homes aren’t the guaranteed wealth creators they were advertised to be. Yet it’s not clear that, even in good times, they ever were.”

Read more here.

Are Millennials Destined to Be a Generation of Renters?

By Justine Rivero Forbes

“The student loan debt bomb has severely handicapped young people’s ability to buy a home. Outstanding student loan debt nationwide hit $1 trillion last year and outpaced credit card debt for the first time in history.”

Read more here.

The Stagnant City: How Urban Politics Are Stalling Growth and Pushing Rents Up


“Local legislators may prefer more development than we have now to less, but have stronger preferences for stopping development in their districts because these projects would hurt homeowners in their neighborhoods…”

Read more here.

For Renters Who Need Affordable Housing, Choices Are Few

By Alexander Eichler

The Huffington Post

“The average renter makes just $14.15 an hour, according to a report released Tuesday by the NLIHC. With real estate prices the way they are, though, you’d need to earn at least $18.25 an hour to be able to rent a typical two-bedroom apartment and still have cash left over for other expenses.”

Read more here.

Why Some Housing Markets Do Better Than Others

By Edward Glaeser Bloomberg

“The five factors that best predicted price growth between 2001 and 2011 were the share of adults with college degrees, housing permits per capita, median family income, median housing value and the closest distance to the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.”

Read more here.

A million-dollar mortgage goes unpaid for years while couple fights foreclosure

By Annys Shin

The Washington Post

“Efforts to protect homeowners have transformed Maryland’s foreclosure process from one of the country’s shortest to one of the longest. It now takes on average 634 days to complete a foreclosure in Maryland, compared with 132 days in Virginia.”

Read more here.

?Forced’ Home Insurance Policies Face New Scrutiny

By Alan Zibel

The Wall Street Journal

“Officials at the state and federal level have been concerned that insurers have been charging too much for something known as ‘force-placed insurance,’ which takes the place of a lapsed policy.”

Read more here.

Freddie clamps down on mortgage servicers with fee increases

By Jon Prior HousingWire

“The government-sponsored enterprise will issue a $5,000 fine (previoiusly $250) to servicers for failing to report on the status of at least 75% of their mortgages as part of a file review program updated last year.”

Read more here.

Apartment Loans by Agencies Creating Bubble, Chandan Says

By Oshrat Carmiel Bloomberg

“Investors are rushing to acquire U.S. apartment buildings as the homeownership rate hovers near the lowest level since 1998 and government-supported mortgage companies provide record levels of financing for multifamily properties.”

Read more here.

Foreign buyers are snapping up U.S. homes

By Lew Sichelman

The Los Angeles Times

“Foreign clients bought $41 billion worth of stateside houses and apartments during the 12-month period that ended in March 2011, according to the latest tally by the National Assn. of Realtors.”

Read more here.

Purchasing power increases among Latinos

By Andrew Scoggin


“The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals said many factors, including relative young age, population growth and increased incomes likely signal a heightened share of Hispanic homebuyers.”

Read more here.

2012-03-14 00:00:00

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