Oct 13, 2011
Yes, there are solutions to the housing crisis
13 Oct 2011
Posted by Andrew Kantor
On October 4, a group of industry leaders (including NAR President Ron Phipps), lawmakers, and economic strategists met to discuss “New Solutions for America’s Housing Crisis.”
And that fact that the politicians there included the influential Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), Sen. Johnny Isakson (D-Ga.), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), means the meeting had the ear of Capitol Hill.
Ideas for improving the market were plentiful and specific.
Rep. Cardoza suggested allowing consumers to refinance at current rates without getting an appraisal.
Sen. Isakson agreed, and added that loan limit adjustments shouldn’t be enforced in those cases.
Sen Merkley wants to end “dual track,” where banks pursue modifications at the same time they’re starting foreclosure proceedings, which he called “a source of enormous stress, enormous angst, enormous confusion.”
Realogy’s Richard Smith looked at the longer term, suggesting that some federally backed loans should be assumable. That would make it easier for future buyers to afford a home when interest rates inevitably increase above today’s historically low figures.
Dave Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, wants to see a national standard for mortgage servicing, not 50+ sets of state regulations.
And NAR President Ron Phipps took what was perhaps the broadest view. “Our message is ‘do no harm’,” he said. “Conversations about increasing down payments, conversations about the mortgage interest deduction … continue to eat away at the average consumer’s ability to purchase a house — and [their] confidence in housing.”
But that doesn’t mean do nothing. In fact, Phipps said he understands that not every idea will pan out. “I would like to see leadership,” he said. “I would like to take FDR’s approach and make some mistakes.”