Monday, February 3, 2014

Housing Industry Behind Obama's Intentions, But Seeks More Action

President Barack Obama made only a couple of brief references to the housing market during his recent State of the Union address, but what he said caught the attention of industry leaders.

The consensus is that, while talking about housing reform and the dream of homeownership for all Americans is all well and good, legislative action is what matters. According to a Mortgage News Daily report, groups like the National Association of Home Builders, the Mortgage Bankers Association and National Multifamily Housing Council were outspoken in the immediate wake of the president's speech, applauding his intentions and attention to the market's continued recovery but maintaining that more needs to be done to create homebuying opportunities that will, in turn, strengthen the economy as a whole.

More permits mean more opportunities 
NAHB Chairman Rick Judson said his trade group agrees with the president's assertion that the home is the most important investment families can make, but would like to see building permits that facilitate the construction of more new homes granted at a greater rate.

"Nothing packs a bigger economic punch than home building," Judson said. "Building 100,000 homes creates more than 300,000 full-time jobs and $8.9 billion in tax revenues that are essential to help local communities build schools, hire police and firefighters, and fix roads."

Judson added that policies leading to more homebuilding would strengthen a transitioning mortgage market and ensure sustainability over the long haul.

"With the right policies in place, housing can lead the economy to higher ground," Judson said. "[In his address], the President called on Congress to send him legislation that will avoid another housing crisis and 'keeps the dream of homeownership alive for future generations.'  Such a plan must provide proper federal support that will protect 30-year mortgages, limit taxpayer exposure, encourage increased participation from the private sector, and ensure liquidity and stability for homeownership and rental housing."

The ongoing reform of government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is a point of emphasis for many in the industry, and MBA President and CEO David Stevens reaffirmed that lending institutions would like to see bills passed that enable them to expand the homeowning population - as opposed to more regulation restricting which borrowers qualify for mortgage loans.

"Just as the President mentioned, we believe that the time is now for Washington to take a more active role in housing reform," Stevens said.  "Be it through legislation as President Obama suggested, or other measures that don't require Congressional action, strengthening the real estate finance system is good for borrowers and will only improve our recovering economy."


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