The War on Housing, Posted by Vince

housegablesThere is a “war on housing” brewing in Washington.  Homeownership seems to be under attack.  As 2010 NAR First Vice President Moe Veissi pointed out in his recent blog, ill-informed views on homeownership are appearing more and more in the media.

Last week, industry leaders, executives and policy makers gathered in Washington, D.C., for a housing conference sponsored by the Treasury to discuss the future of the housing finance system and the fate of Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The conference featured panels moderated by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, as well as breakout sessions that focused on topics from the “Role of the Private Sector and the Government in a Reformed Housing Finance System” to “Managing the Process of Transition to a New Financial System”.

I was assigned to participate in the breakout session entitled, “Aligning Private Market Incentives in the Housing Finance Chain”, moderated by FHA Commissioner Dave Stevens.  In recent weeks, long-term fixed rate mortgages have come under increasing pressure from pundits who believe this product is partly the crux of the nation’s housing finance problem.

During the session, I had the opportunity to briefly share NAR’s views regarding the importance of maintaining the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, which is an extremely safe mortgage product.

While some at the conference, advocated the need to support a mortgage market for all types of housing, in all market conditions, other speakers questioned the level of government support for the housing industry.

What did they say? 

They asserted that taxpayer money is better spent on other industries with the greater promise of job growth and productivity for our economy.

The debate we’re starting to see over the government’s role in housing touches on many issues:  over-housed citizens, the deficit, tax incentives (MID and capital gains) the GSE’s, and other public incentives.

Homeownership is not for everyone, surely.  But if you are prepared for its responsibilities, it’s an excellent way to invest your money and receive financial and social benefits in return.

At the conference, Secretary Geithner stated that: “Fixing our housing finance system is one of the most consequential and complicated economic policy problems we face as a country”.

REALTORS® know this to be absolutely true.  We recognized this early on.  In late 2008 we started formulating a reformation plan for the GSE’s.

While there is no clear consensus in Washington as to what needs to be done to fix Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, participants at the conference generally advocated a need for some level of government support for the housing finance sector for the foreseeable future.

So as the Administration focuses its attention on the future of housing finance and the GSE’s, NAR—together with your support—will continue to espouse the virtues of homeownership and of providing a mechanism to ensure that qualified buyers have access to the capital they need to become homeowners.  This is how we will respond to the “war on housing.”

While we face one of our greatest industry challenges, it does provide us with a tremendous opportunity to energize and engage homeowners and prospective homeowners in this housing debate.  Vince Malta, 2010 Vice President and Liaison to Government Affairs

  1. Lenders should practice intelligent lending rather than criteria lending. I someone has had over a dozen loans without a single delinquency, that should weigh more than many other factors. I don’t see why everyone continues to get a broad brush approach.

    Reward those who have been excellent borrowers with easier lending standards. Get rid of 100% loans and deny known problem borrowers.

  2. Ann Marie Borges

    As long as our Treasury Secretaries are coming from financial institutes like Goldman Sachs as chosen by Clinton (Democrat) Bush (Republican) play it forward Wall Street will rule the economics of this country and the world. Good luck with making changes to benefit the middle class or real estate. This episode was orchestrated from start to finish. Taking out the politicians and corporations that are robbing the American public is the only way to make a difference. I work to that end 7 days a week with political action groups who are making a difference.

  3. Lorraine

    Yes, this administration is trying & succeeding in tearing down everything that is American. We need to fight back with pro-active strategies not just reactive. Or we will be a Marxist, Muslim country. Our money is wasted with this regime.

    Everyone knows that renters feel temporary. They are somewhat transient and thus more crime, drugs, illegals will result. The landlords do not maintain property equal to primary homeowners. Thus we will devolve into third world status in a amazingly short period of time.

  4. What happen to does this make sense lending. We lost our way when it stop making sense and went to how much can we make on this deal.

  5. The privledge, pride, and responsibility of home ownership was decimated when a house was no longer treated as a home but meerly as a commodity. The right of Home Ownership had always been an earned right. Once we earned it we certainly didn’t take the responsibility lightly. And yes, home ownership absolutely should be a dream and a goal, a goal to be achieved rather than a gift or a mistaken entitlement with nothing vested.
    Regardless of the current debacle, the reasons for home ownership should always be comfort,stability, and belonging within our homes and within our communities. All of those things come with responsibility. That responsibility is a core value that home ownership created and it was understood. The potential of long term equity & family stability within our own homes should far outweigh short term gain. We just forgot the premise of why we wanted or needed a home to begin with. We will not not make progress on the home front if we continue to deal with the execption rather than the rule. We continue to allow many to forego all of the responsibility for more and more entitlement.
    What we are experiencing today with making home ownership a reality, for the right reasons, has become the exception. We need to be vigilant that it never becomes the rule!

  6. Janice

    Wow! This Timothy Geithner dude is scary! What does he think people will do if they do not have the option of affordable home ownership? Rent? From who? Is he next going to promote public housing? (Sounds like socialism to me.) What will the country’s housing situation look like in 10 years from now? This administration sure doesn’t want the hard working “little” people to get ahead. Financing needs to be affordable to qualified buyers. Where do you start “fixing” Fannie and Freddie and FHA reform? It doesn’t appear Washington has a clue. Thank you to our realtor representatives FPCs that go to Washington to try to talk common sense to these out of touch policy makers. (They sure don’t report this information in the liberal news media.)

  7. Mike

    George Bailey would jump off that bridge now if he could see what has taken place. Bailey Building and Loan, gee what a concept. Frank Raines, Jim Johnson, and Jamie Gorelick should be in prison. NAR leadership, choose a side, preferably for freedom and real true home ownership.