Dan Krell, Realtor®
In retrospect, the beginning of the global recession in late 2007 was the end of the housing boom and may have spawned the foreclosures crisis and the financial crisis of 2008. And although this period of time will undoubtedly become the basis of many future dissertations examining the “Great Recession;” you might ask “how much has the state of housing improved since 2008?”
If you recall, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) was anticipated to have wide reaching changes in the mortgage and housing industries as well as supposed to have assisted struggling home owners. This multifaceted piece of legislation consolidated many individual bills addressing issues that were thought to either be the cause or the result of the financial crisis. Besides raising mortgage loan limits to increase home buyer activity, the historic legislation was the beginning of changes meant to “fix” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as “modernizing” FHA to make the mortgage process easier for home buyers and refinancing easier for struggling home owners. Additionally, this law was the origination of the Hope for Homeowners program to assist home owners facing foreclosure (www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/110/hr3221).
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), originated from HERA, has been the “conservator” of the then sinking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since the FHFA took control, there has been conjecture as to what would become of the mortgage giants: some talked about closing their doors, while some talked about changing their role in the mortgage industry. Since FHFA became the oversight agency, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has strengthened their role in maintaining liquidity in the housing market by helping struggling home owners with their mortgages as well as freeing up lender capital by the continued purchases of loans (fhfa.gov)
The inception of Hope for Homeowners was the beginning of a string of government programs designed to assist home owners facing foreclosure, or assist underwater home owners refinance their mortgage. Although there have been individual success stories, there has been criticism that these programs did not assist the expected numbers of home owners. A January 24th CNNMoney article by Tami Luhby (money.cnn.com) reported that “…the HAMP program, which was designed to lower troubled borrowers’ mortgage rates to no more than 31% of their monthly income, ran into problems almost immediately. Many lenders lost documents, and many borrowers didn’t qualify. Three years later, it has helped a scant 910,000 homeowners — a far cry from the promised 4 million…” and “HARP, which was intended to reach 5 million borrowers, has yielded about the same results. Through October, when it was revamped and expanded, the program had assisted 962,000…” (money.cnn.com/2012/01/24/news/economy/Obama_housing/index.htm).
Despite the recent slowdown in foreclosure activity, there is disagreement about the projected number of foreclosures going into 2013. A March 29th Corelogic news release (www.corelogic.com/about-us/news/corelogic-reports-almost-65,000-completed-foreclosures-nationally-in-february.aspx) reported that there have been about 3.4 million completed foreclosures since 2008 (corelogic.com). And although an August 9th RealtyTrac® (www.realtytrac.com/content/foreclosure-market-report/july-2012-us-foreclosure-market-report-7332) report indicated a 3% decrease from June to July and a 10% decrease from the previous year in foreclosure filings; July’s 6% year over year increase in foreclosure starts (initial foreclosure filings) was the third straight month of increases in foreclosure starts.
So, if you’re wondering if housing is better off today than it was four years ago, the answer may be a resounding “maybe;” It all depends on your situation.
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of September 3 , 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.