DC
03/06/2012 04:05 pm ET | Updated Mar 06, 2012

Change My Mind: Should Banks Be Forced To Lower Mortgages To Market Value Before Foreclosing?

WASHINGTON -- While the housing crisis has hit the D.C. area with less force than elsewhere, the nation's capital and its environs have not been immune.

According to mortgage-data firm CoreLogic, at the end of 2011's fourth quarter, some 12 percent of residential mortgages in the District of Columbia were for more than the property's worth. In Maryland and Virginia, that number rises to 24 percent.

For the nation as a whole, 22.8 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage were underwater, up from 22.1 percent in the third quarter.

Among the problems with underwater mortgages: they often lead to foreclosures.

Some propose that banks should be required to lower the amount due on mortgages before foreclosing. Proponents argue that requiring banks to lower mortgages before foreclosing will help homeowners stay in their houses, and would also help stabilize the housing market, bolstering the economy as a whole.

Those who disagree argue that this plan would backfire. Homeownership would become far more difficult for people of modest means and foreclosures would increase overall. Moreover, they argue, this proposal would harm the business environment, making recovery even more difficult and pushing it further down the road.

In this installment of HuffPost's Change My Mind debate series, we asked two local experts about an issue that hits close to home. Literally:

Should banks be required to lower the amount due on residential mortgages before foreclosing?

Eli Lehrer, vice president for the Heartland Institute, a national free-market think, argues no.

Arguing yes is Kevin Zeese, co-director of It's Our Economy and an organizer of the National Occupation of Washington DC and one of the original organizers of Occupy Washington DC in Freedom Plaza.

Join the debate below and see if Eli or Kevin can change your mind!

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