I know it may not be PC (in most REALTOR® circles, at least), but this editorial from today’s (March 12) Wall Street Journal makes good sense to me. The gist of it is that helping homebuyers stave off foreclosure (for an additional month or so…) and programs that attempt to keep marginal borrowers in their homes at any cost is actually prolonging the agony. The author argues that the market won’t reach bottom and start back up until the bad credit risks (or at least the worst of them) are out of the homes and bad loans. In particular, he writes:
….Government policy is working against itself. The Fed is pushing on a string — it can’t bring back confidence in specific assets by flooding the market with generalized liquidity, though it can certainly undermine confidence in the dollar and its own anti-inflation credibility. On all sides, meanwhile, the call for a housing bailout is becoming deafening, nigh irresistible. But the seized-up credit markets won’t be unseized by trying to induce debtors to cling to houses they now see as throwing good money after bad.
By definition, the only haircut lenders rationally want to take is the minimum required to keep owners on the fence about walking away. Not much better are bailout plans that try to keep borrowers in their homes by shifting some of their equity losses to the taxpayer. The market has utterly changed from the market in which these recent purchasers made their purchase decisions. They’ve been renting their homes and don’t really lose much through foreclosure. Let them go.
What do you think?