America's national housing policy seems, in a word, adrift: rudderless, following the whims of the prevailing political winds of the day, the ebb and flow of the ocean's tides, wherever they might take us.
Mortgage guarantor giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both recently announced their intent to once again begin purchasing mortgage loans at 97 percent loan-to-value (LTV) in the case of first-time homebuyers.
The Trust Fund is not the panacea. It will go a very long way, providing funds for bricks and mortar, creating more affordable housing for thousands of Americans, but the operational and service side so vital to affordable housing will continue to rely on other federal programs.
Mortgage subsidies through federal agencies are the modern-day version of the Homestead Act. But unlike the land grants of the 19th century, government loan subsidies have proven to be a rather bad idea.
Third-party settlement costs could be eliminated by implementation of one simple rule: any service required by lenders as a condition for the granting of a home mortgage must be purchased and paid for by the lender.
As Americans celebrated Labor Day and the freedom to provide for their families, let's hope they didn't spoil the holiday yesterday by pausing to consider whether government today is making their lives easier or more difficult.
Germany's respected Handelsblatt, that country's parallel to the Wall Street Journal, recently devoted an entire section and a featured interview to the deliberate and ongoing crushing of American Michael Winston's finances and spirit by one of our country's largest banks.
Keep in mind, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac already purchase 97% LTV mortgages from state housing finance agencies throughout America. Why not reinstate this policy to help restore sustainable homeownership for responsible everyday borrowers while also helping to jumpstart America's economy?
As voices across the ideological spectrum have come to recognize the need for serious reform of our housing finance system with a greater role for private capital, the nation's top housing regulator made an unfortunate revelation.
The Obama administration did too little, too late, to help troubled homeowners, who faced plummeting home prices and the risk of foreclosure. The most important thing they can do is get Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to adopt principal reduction.
For those in the real estate finance and home building industry, the coming of Mel Watt as the newly inducted Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency could not have come at a more propitious time.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need to be regulated properly, they need to be required to maintain sufficient capital reserves, and they need to be operated transparently. But given the current legislation, eliminating them would be reckless and foolish.
Some in Congress and in the administration want to do away with Fannie and Freddie and hand over their portfolio to the private banking industry, but without the previous requirements that banks do a certain amount of business with low-to-moderate income individuals.