Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Does Government Intervention In The Housing Market Ever Turn Out Good?

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 29JAN10 - David Cameron, Le...Image via WikipediaWe are in an economic funk that just doesn't seem to want to go away. With a credit crisis caused by excessive debt secured by over priced property does it make sense to have tougher lending rules or looser ones?

It's going to take a while for real estate values to stabilize. At the same time the economy needs to recover. In time normal market forces will bring thing slowly back to normal. Responsible government spending and responsible private sector spending and saving habits will bring the economy back online. It's going to take some time for all this to happen. Patience is the key.

We are not a patient people. The politicians know this and fear the public will take their pain out on them. Which means they get the blame for the economy and get voted out. The politicians must do something and out of their bag of tricks they pull out an idea, the problem is the idea is usually going to make things worse.

Our friends in the U.K. are getting a plan, by the Prime Minister, to help first-time buyers of new homes to carrying part of the risk of their mortgage loan. They also propose subsidising the construction of 16,000 homes by giving £400 million of taxpayers’ money to property developers. Also they are working on a scheme under which billions of pounds of money in pension funds will be used to finance the construction of power stations, wind turbines and roads.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron says, "This strategy, will unlock the housing market, get Britain building again, and give many more people the satisfaction and security that comes with stepping over their own threshold.”

Propping up the housing market by lending money to people who couldn't currently get a mortgage loan on their own doesn't seem to make sense. But the mortgage guarantee, the first time such a scheme has been attempted in the UK, will result in lenders providing loans with significantly lower deposits than the 20 per cent or more that is typically demanded. This means taxpayers will be liable for losses when borrowers default and homes are repossessed.

On this side of the Atlantic the plan concerns many people. They see government trying to get people into homes they normally couldn't afford, the taxpayers who will be the ones to pay for it if all goes wrong, and the human tragedy of families encouraged to live beyond their means when all come crashing down.

The question is: Does Government Intervention In The Housing Market Ever Turn Out Good?


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  2. Bad idea. Home buyers need to have skin in the game, and need to qualify with an income in order to get the loan. Minimum 5% down, with the monthly payment representing no more than 25% of take home pay. Those no income verification, no money down loans that were so prevalent back in 2002 played a large part in the mess the housing market is in now. Tulip Mania, anyone?


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