The media commentary on the housing crises, perpetuated by a plethora of talking heads with all manner of opposing solutions, continues unabated in this country. We are pretty sure that many of the bright ideas offered to fix the problem are emanating from tenured professors with no fear of income loss, hence little risk of defaulting on a mortgage payment. Of course, the simple solution to the problem is to put 3 or 4% of the presently unemployed Americans to work in useful, well paying, private sector jobs. Such a solution is not the responsibility of any level of government. But, we digress, as the issue here is housing. The National Association of REALTORS® has offered a Five- point “solution” to the housing crises issue. While the entire explanation is too wordy for this commentary, the big ideas are important to outline:
- Do not risk weakening the housing market any further (by) revising the Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) rule; restore higher loan limits to FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and resist eliminating the mortgage interest deduction.
- Reduce the Foreclosure Inventory (by) supporting any and all efforts to reduce the risk of foreclosure on American families; require banks to place short sale process ahead of foreclosure process; and expand the HARP program to include responsible homeowners that are underwater in their present mortgages.
- Open opportunities for private capital to return to the market (by) expanding the ability of FHA and Fannie Mae (etc.) to offer more investor loan products.
- Support a secondary mortgage market that involves at least partial support from the federal government. This idea rejects privatizing of Fannie and Freddie.
- A call for the White House to hold a “National Housing Summit”. The idea here is to craft a national housing policy to serve the needs of all Americans.
As REALTORS®, the Associates at The Berkshire Group are generally supportive of our trade association’s efforts to influence the national dialogue on the housing crises. However, our own Sacred Ox is somewhat concerned by the idea of a “National Housing Policy”, which could be used to manipulate the markets in unforeseen ways. Of course, any of the above ideas, as well as hundreds of other ideas proposed by all manner of well meaning professionals, can have unintended consequences.
The housing “crises” will, in time, be replaced by some other crises. Perhaps some, or all, of the REALTOR® proposals will be incorporated into the, as yet to be determined, “Grand Solution”. But, too many legislated fixes will, like the taking of pharmaceutical drugs, require the need for further drugs in the form of more legislation. While none of us like the current housing crises, we should be careful not to sow the seeds of the next crises by taking the legislative equivalent of drugs that will necessitate the need for more legislative drugs.
We wonder if our Sacred Ox is best left alone to graze in the field, and not cower in fear of an over abundance of legislative and regulatory fixes designed to protect our proverbial Ox from himself.