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 Meg Handley
U.S. News and World Report
“Ultra-low and declining home prices are a headache for homeowners, but they might also be the key to healing the housing market as foreign investors snap up real estate bargains in the United States. Internationally oriented sales amounted to $82 billion for the year ending in March, according to the most recent data from the National Association of Realtors, about 8 percent of total U.S. sales and $16 billion more than the same period last year.” Read more here.
By Jonathan Cohn
The New Republic
“48 hours later, what should we think about the administration’s announcement of more help for people with underwater mortgages? To be honest, I’m still not sure. And that’s partly because even the experts I trust seem to disagree.” Read more here.
By Margaret Chadbourn
“Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s regulator on Saturday rejected criticism he was obstructing a housing recovery by taking too narrow a view of his mission to protect the financial health of the two massive, taxpayer-supported mortgage firms. Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, argued the $141 billion in taxpayer funds Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had received since they were seized by the government in 2008 were meant to get the companies back on their feet, not to provide ‘broad relief’ to the housing market.” Read more here.
By Les Christie
“The first post-bubble bottom was hit in 2009, when prices fell to 31% below peak. The First-Time Homebuyer Credit helped perk prices up by mid-2010, but by the time the credit expired, prices fell again. In the second dip, which was reached last winter, prices were down 33% before staging a mild rally that was artificially spurred as banks slowed the processing of foreclosures following the robo-signing scandal, which found that loan servicers were rapidly signing foreclosures without properly vetting them. Now that the scandal is mostly resolved, lenders are speeding more cases through the foreclosure pipeline and back onto the market, weighing on home prices even further.” Read more here.
By Annamaria Andriotis
“Are housing prices up, down, or flat? It all depends on who you ask. The S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Indices reported last week that for the three months ending in August, home prices increased by 0.2% compared to July. Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, a government housing regulator, announced that home prices dropped 0.1% in August. And data from the National Association of Realtors on August sales now shows that the median sales price of existing homes was about flat in August compared to July. Yes, the differences are small, and it’s been the case for years that each group’s data differs even within the same metro area. But experts say that with the housing market facing the possibility of a double dip, sellers and buyers are more baffled than ever by these discrepancies. Read more here.