Saturday, January 2, 2010

How Not to "Fix" the Housing Market

The Obama administration’s $75 billion program to protect homeowners from foreclosure has been widely pronounced a disappointment, and some economists and real estate experts now contend it has done more harm than good.

Since President Obama announced the program in February, it has lowered mortgage payments on a trial basis for hundreds of thousands of people but has largely failed to provide permanent relief. Critics increasingly argue that the program, Making Home Affordable, has raised false hopes among people who simply cannot afford their homes.

As a result, desperate homeowners have sent payments to banks in often-futile efforts to keep their homes, which some see as wasting dollars they could have saved in preparation for moving to cheaper rental residences. Some borrowers have seen their credit tarnished while falsely assuming that loan modifications involved no negative reports to credit agencies.

Some experts argue the program has impeded economic recovery by delaying a wrenching yet cleansing process through which borrowers give up unaffordable homes and banks fully reckon with their disastrous bets on real estate, enabling money to flow more freely through the financial system.
All these criticisms are dead on.  Keeping people in homes they cannot afford makes no sense, so policies that attempt to prevent foreclosure are guaranteed to generate perverse side effects.  The horrifying fact is that policy is still subsidizing high-risk mortgages.

1 comment:

Jeff Green said...

Thanks for the good information on the effect of the government's "intervention" on the housing market.