Monday, January 12, 2009

Fix Housing First: A Plan For Another Real Estate Bubble

Recently a coalition of homebuilders, real estate agents and other housing stakeholders have come together to formulate a plan to fix the economy. For the purpose of making their plan known, they have even created a website: fixhousingfirst.com. They proclaim that the main reason that the economy is so down right now is because the real estate market is being battered. After all, the problems began when housing values started to fall and foreclosures mounted, which exposed troubled mortgage-backed securities. So naturally, if we hope to fix this financial crisis, then we must address the most glaring problem first and foremost, right?

“So what is their big plan,” you ask? To create another housing bubble of course!

Their plan, as written on the website, is outlined below:

  1. Enhance the initial Home Buyer Tax Credit:
    • Eligible purchases: Primary residences between April 9, 2008, and December 31, 2009.
    • Credit amount: 10% of home price capped at 3.5% of FHA loan limits (geographically dependent) — ranging between approximately $10,000 and $22,000.
    • Eliminate the recapture — a true tax credit [Here they are referring to the repayment of credit described above. In the previous housing bill there was an interest free loan for first time homebuyers of $7,500.]
    • Monetization: credit available at time of closing.
    • Available to all home buyers and not just first-time home buyers.
  2. Couple the enhanced tax credit with a below market 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for home purchases
    • 2.99% rate available for contracts closed between now and June 30, 2009.
    • 3.99% rate for contracts closed between June 30, 2009 and December 31, 2009.
  3. Continue foreclosure prevention measures to keep people in their homes, help stabilize home prices and bolster the economy.

Restated, they want taxpayers to pay the down payment for homebuyers and subsidize their mortgage payments as well. What would the net effect of this be? Housing would all suddenly become much more attractive and people would buy, pushing prices up. This is exactly what they say will happen, and is what they are striving for. The trouble is that it is an artificial boost to housing prices, which will inevitably lead to another housing bubble. Housing just isn’t worth what it currently costs. That is the simple truth, and a truth that we all need to grasp. Once the subsidies are gone, housing prices will once again fall until they hit their true value point.

If we are looking for a solution to temporarily get us out of this mess, I think this is certainly one plan that will help with that. However, to me it seems like a waste of time and money when in the end we are ultimately going to return to the same place we were before. This plan is not sustainable in any way shape or form, and should not be seriously considered. Then again what did one expect to see from a plan constructed entirely by home builders, real estate agents and other housing stakeholders?

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11 comments:

January 12, 2009 at 1:49 PM Anonymous said...

I completely agree that this "Fix Housing First" is unsustainable and will lead to more of a bubble. The proposal is self-serving for the industry, not for consumers. It's disgusting that an industry that engaged in predatory and fraudulent lending, shoddy construction, and overly agressive marketing of toxic loans to unqualified buyers, can now claim they are a victim of the economy. They are the perpetrators. Many should be jailed and some less well-connected ones have been. Check out mortgagefraudblog.com as well as hadd.com and hobb.org to name just a few. Warnings that the industry's practices and insider fraud were going to damage the economy were out there early enough to avert this mess. But the politicians like that industry lobbying money too much.

January 12, 2009 at 7:06 PM Anonymous said...

Unfunded grass roots organizations like HADD and HOBB have been attempting for years to alert state and federal elected officials to fraud in the home building/real estate industry. There is NO doubt in my mind that Senators, Representatives, the White House, Fed's, SEC, HUD, FHA, VA, etc. KNEW what was going on and allowed it to continue leading to this financial crisis.

The rich get richer the too big to fail get bigger, the tax payers who have been destroyed by all of this pay the tab. It is far past time for government to say no thanks to lobby money and begin FINALLY to represent the citizens.

New RESPA rules should be allowed to stand and then be enforced. Shame on the home builders for attempting to stop the implementation of the new RESPA law.

No more bailouts for the perpetrators of this financial meltdown.

January 12, 2009 at 10:34 PM Anonymous said...

The only way to fix the housing mess is to stop trying to fix it. I will not buy not nor will any body be able to call a bottom till all the bone head Poindexter accountant type or worst yet any Legislature stop propping up the collapsing market.

January 13, 2009 at 5:45 AM djhives said...

let these sheep that 'bought' houses SUFFER!!

January 13, 2009 at 6:43 AM Bryant Keefe said...

If we are going to shore up banks, auto companies, unions, states, cites and insurance companies then we must support the very taxpayer whose credit is being used to pass out all these Trillions of dollars. I do not believe the builders, lenders and Realtors should create the program just to sell homes. Stopping foreclosure is imperative first. Or let all people and companies fail with no government intervention. Be all in or all out.

January 13, 2009 at 8:14 AM Tim said...

Quixotic. INVESTORS drove housing prices. Unless they will use the transfer of wealth for investors, this plan would have little effect. The plans best able to re-inflate housing prices are those where the taxpayer/government eats the losses. I believe these are the sort the gov has done with the investment banks and with AIG. They might as well say, "I want my Bailout. Where's my money? Cut me a check already."

January 13, 2009 at 12:28 PM amit said...

Let us see what should stake holders give back

- Reduce the sales commision for house over 200K to 3% intead of 6%

- Reduce loan origination points

- Free access to FMLS

January 13, 2009 at 12:40 PM Anonymous said...

Of course the real estate industry is crying out for help as well they should. The real estate industry is the core of our economy. The largest investment that any business or individual is with property and lucrative investments. It is completely unfair to place all builders into the same demoralizing category. No one is claming victim in this economy because to do so would show arrogance and disregard to everyone else effected by the downturn of the economy; nevertheless, the real estate is asking for help.

Our economy cannot tolerate close-minded individuals who want to point the finger. Our country is too mature. As we all know, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae has been the catalyst in the downturn of the real estate industry. If builders sold their homes for what potential home buyers wanted them to sell homes for builders would go out of business. Most builders would like to see a win-win for every homeowner; a home built with quality and integrity with the hopes of potential buyers realizing that quality along with integrity does not come cheap.

The fix housing first stimulus proposal is not only vital for new homebuyers but also for current homeowners who are jeopardy of losing their homes, new or resale. A little help goes a long way. If the stimulus proposal is approved and is carried-out swiftly, imagine all the families and the homes being saved. Imagine the grand impact the stimulus package would have on this country.

This stimulus package is crucial in helping this country get back on its feet. Although millions upon millions of dollars may be necessary for the revised stimulus package to jump-start the economy however it does not compare to the billions and billions of dollars, thousands of industries and millions of jobs lost last year alone. We need an aggressive plan. I believe this plan will work and we will start to see the light through this inequitable tunnel. We our in disastrous times and now we must change our attitude by accepting what it is and respecting those who are trying to fix it.

January 13, 2009 at 9:19 PM Anonymous said...

I want my bubble! Please create another one as I missed out on the last. Please.

January 13, 2009 at 10:45 PM Anonymous said...

Housing Fix: throw anyone who tries to prop up house prices into a cell at Guantanamo Bay until house prices fall back down to a level that is affordable for average hard working Americans!

January 20, 2009 at 2:24 AM Bad Credit - Easy said...

Overall if you are fixing any economic problem by falsely proping up prices or doing something that the invisible hand would otherwise like to correct and keeping it up for a sustained amount of time, you will create a bubble. If the bubble isn't in the asset class that you are propping up then it will be in associated markets for goods and services related to the market.

In other words, too much intervention will cause a bubble. Let the market forces take away the bad and promote the good. Thats the way Smith would have had it work.

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