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Can Government Policy Sink the Housing Recovery?

King Solomon was a ruler dedicated to the application of wisdom and common sense. His words in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes reveal his belief that rulers need to act for the benefit of the people. But some critics say that today, the US government is doing just the opposite with decisions by Edward deMarco of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) not to allow principal reduction or forgiveness of mortgage debts to struggling homeowners,

The relationship between federal mortgage assistance, foreclosure issues and the housing recovery has been the subject of many efforts to analyze what went wrong in the US housing market a few years ago and how to fix it now. The Fed’s interventions have kept mortgage rates low, put foreclosed homes on the market and offered ways to bail out homeowners in danger of defaulting on loans. But, according to a recent article posted on The Ticker, critics claim policies put in place by de Marco may destabilize the recovery and create another round of foreclosures.

As we’ve discussed in previous posts to this space, foreclosures are the millstone around the metaphorical neck of a housing recovery begun a few years ago after the 2008 collapse. Too many untended foreclosures blight neighborhoods, bringing in questionable elements and driving down housing prices. A glut of foreclosures can make home sales difficult, putting more homeowners into crisis and creating a vicious cycle of defaulting loans and foreclosed homes.

One way to reduce the number of foreclosures threatening to flood the markets yet again is to extend efforts to help struggling homeowners. Some of these programs offer refinancing options at lower rates, while others help with short sales and other efforts to avoid the foreclosure process. But, according to housing industry professionals, one essential factor in avoiding another foreclosure meltdown involves principal reduction or outright forgiveness – something the FHFA, led by de Marco, refuses to do.

According to The Ticker, the attorney generals of nine states are calling for deMarcc’ firing on grounds that the FHFA’s policies threaten to undermine the housing recovery. But, some industry watchers point out, those policies reflect a larger picture of dysfunction in the government’s expanding “securitization” of bank loans—loans sold in bundles s investments – a practice that they say, reduces a bank’s incentives to work with mortgage holders to avoid defaults. DeMarco’s decisions are only one part of the larger problem.

Both sides focus on foreclosures as a major impediment to a strong housing recovery. Keeping more homes out of foreclosure and making sure that foreclosures don’t stand empty for long, are important goals in avoiding another collapse like the one in 2008. Independent investors following Jason Hartman’s investing guidelines can expect those policies set by DeMarco and the FHFA, as well as the government as a whole, to affect the housing industry landscape for years to come.

Register now for the Memphis Wealth Building Bus Tour and Real Estate Education Event, coming April 26-28, 2013 to the Memphis Hilton. Meet with investing experts, Jason Hartman’s local property specialists and take a bus tour of turnkey investment propertied available now.

The Solomon Success Team

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