Source: Urban Institute
A new plan by a diverse group of thought leaders provides the vision, tools, and principles to reform the housing finance system during a critically important moment in the national debate over the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The paper was authored by experts from diverse perspectives: Ellen Seidman, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute; Phillip Swagel, Scholar at Milken Institute; Sarah Rosen Wartell, President of the Urban Institute; and Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics.
The paper’s significance is underscored by the sectors its authors represent: private firms, think tanks, academia, and both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations.
The paper starts from the premise that a future housing finance system must meet five essential goals:
- Ensuring stability and liquidity so that the future housing finance system is resilient to crises and attractive to a wide range of global investors;
- Ensuring access and equity so that all creditworthy borrowers can get access to the system;
- Strengthening affordable housing, including rental housing for people who need it;
- Limiting the government’s role and risk so that taxpayers are better protected;
- Establishing incentives, competition, and innovation so that a greater amount of private risk capital supports the system.
- In “A Pragmatic Plan for Housing Finance Reform,” the authors articulate a vision and core principles without prescribing detailed legislative imperatives. They argue that continued flexibility consistent with basic principles will be essential as a new housing finance system develops in an environment of significant demographic and economic volatility.
When considering how a future housing finance system should operate, the authors emphasize the importance of diverse sources of mortgage funding; participation in the system by lending institutions of all sizes; and the need for explicit, paid-for government guarantees to cover catastrophic losses.
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today released the nation’s first-ever national study examining housing discrimination against same-sex couples in the private rental market. The study, An Estimate of Housing Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples, measures the treatment same-sex couples receive from rental agents when inquiring about apartments advertised online, as compared to how otherwise similar heterosexual couples are treated.
According to HUD’s study, same-sex couples experience unequal treatment more often than heterosexual couples when responding to internet ads for rental units, and findings show that gay male couples experience more discrimination than lesbian couples.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
The Atlanta Fed’s 2012 annual report takes a retrospective look at the interaction between monetary policy and the economy last year. The online-only report, titled Turning Points: 7 Critical Conversations about the Economy in 2012, is fully interactive, packed with embedded videos, customizable charts and graphs, and a pop-up definitions of key information.
Through the lens of seven conversations, the main feature taps into a few of the most important ways in which monetary policy interacts with the economy. The conversation topics shown below are "a starting point from which readers can explore in greater depth key turning points that occurred in 2012 and the ways in which monetary policy worked to address the challenges that remain," said Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart.
The seven critical conversations the Atlanta Fed identified are:
- Labor markets
- Small business
- European sovereign debt
- Fiscal policy
- Monetary policy
Source: Congressional Budget office
A number of exclusions, deductions, preferential rates, and credits in the federal tax system cause revenues to be much lower than they would be otherwise for any given structure of tax rates. Some of those provisions—in both the individual and corporate income tax systems—are termed “tax expenditures” because they resemble federal spending by providing financial assistance to specific activities, entities, or groups of people. Tax expenditures, like traditional forms of federal spending, contribute to the federal budget deficit; influence how people work, save, and invest; and affect the distribution of income.
This report examines how 10 of the largest tax expenditures in the individual income tax system in 2013 are distributed among households with different amounts of income. Those expenditures are grouped into four categories:
Exclusions from taxable income—
Employer-sponsored health insurance,
Net pension contributions and earnings,
Capital gains on assets transferred at death, and
A portion of Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits;
Certain taxes paid to state and local governments,
Mortgage interest payments, and
Preferential tax rates on capital gains and dividends; and
The earned income tax credit, and
The child tax credit.
Some of the provisions of law that reduce the amount of taxable income under the individual income tax also decrease the amount of earnings subject to payroll taxes. The figures presented in this report are generally based on the reduction in payroll taxes as well as the reduction in income taxes, but some figures separate those two effects. (Provisions that reduce payroll tax receipts generally reduce future Social Security benefits as well; that effect is not analyzed in this report.)
Source: University of Warwick
From press release:
Government policies that boost the amount of home ownership in a country are likely to inflict severe damage on the labour market, new research from the University of Warwick suggests.
Professor Andrew Oswald from the University of Warwick and Professor David (“Danny”) Blanchflower from Dartmouth College examine a century of unemployment and home-ownership data for the states of the USA from 1900 to 2010. Combining those numbers with modern data on millions of randomly sampled Americans, the researchers show there is a powerful link between the housing market and the later health of the economy.
Rises in home-ownership in a US state are followed by substantial increases in the unemployment rate in the state, a fall in the mobility of its workers, a rise in commuting times, and a drop in the rate of new business formation. The authors are careful to check, and they replicate, their findings for different periods of US history. The release of their work coincides with a new European study, done independently, which draws the same conclusions. That research, by Jani-Petri Laamanen at the University of Tampere, follows the effects of housing market deregulation across the regions of Finland.
Professor Oswald said: “We have been collecting data for decades now and it is appropriate to go public on the results. We find that a high rate of home-ownership slowly decimates the labour market. The USA makes a valuable ‘laboratory’ in which to study this issue, because the different states have a language, currency, and culture in common.”
The Warwick research is agnostic about some of the underlying mechanisms, but the authors believe that high home ownership in an area leads to people staying put and commuting further and further to jobs, thereby creating cost and congestion for firms and other workers; to NIMBY (not in my back yard) activities where home owners block new businesses; and to an ossification of the mobility and dynamism of an economy. The authors’ argument is not that an owner is disproportionately likely to lose his or her job.
The authors believe their ideas apply equally well to Europe. Countries like Spain and Greece famously have high home-ownership (80%+) and high unemployment (20%+), while nations like Switzerland, Germany and Austria are notably low on both.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
CAPITAL PURCHASE PROGRAM
Status of the Program and Financial Health of Remaining Participants
GAO-13-458, May 7, 2013
GAO-13-427, May 7, 2013
Additional Actions Needed to Decrease Delays and Lower Costs of Major Medical-Facility Projects
GAO-13-556T, May 7, 2013
The Geographic Distribution of the Mortgage Interest Deduction
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
The mortgage interest deduction is one of the largest tax expenditures in the U.S. tax code but the rate at which it is claimed and the average amount deducted vary widely across and within states.
With changes to tax expenditures under consideration, data showing the current distribution of the mortgage interest deduction are key to understanding how federal tax decisions would affect the states.
Policymakers continue to debate how to reduce the federal budget deficit and how to simplify the federal tax code. One point on which there seems to be emerging agreement is that reducing or eliminating tax expenditures could contribute to one or both efforts.
The mortgage interest deduction allows tax filers who own a home and itemize their deductions to subtract interest paid on mortgage debt from their gross income. In tax year 2011, filers deducted about $360 billion in mortgage interest, resulting in roughly $72 billion in forgone federal income tax revenue. Only two federal tax expenditures were larger that year. In years past this deduction has often ranked second behind the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance.
Using detailed ZIP code-level data for the first time — along with state-level data — this report shows that mortgage interest deduction claims vary widely not just across states but across areas within the same state:
- The percentage of tax filers deducting mortgage interest ranged from nearly 37 percent in Maryland to 15 percent in West Virginia and North Dakota.
- The average mortgage interest deduction for all tax filers (not just those taking the deduction) varied from a high of $4,580 per tax filer in Maryland to a low of $1,192 per filer in North Dakota.
- The variation across metropolitan areas within states is even greater. In Texas, for example, the state’s highest claim rate — in the Austin area — was 4 times larger than the lowest rate, in the Odessa area. The Austin area’s average deduction per filer was over 6 times the average in the Odessa area.
Home Prices Rise in February 2013 According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (Word)
Source: Standard & Poor’s
Data through February 2013, released today by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller 1 Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed average home prices increased 8.6% and 9.3% for the 10- and 20-City Composites in the 12 months ending in February 2013. The 10- and 20-City Composites rose 0.4% and 0.3% from January to February.
All 20 cities covered by the indices posted year-over-year increases for at least two consecutive months. In 16 of the 20 cities annual growth rates rose from the last month; Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix saw slight annual deceleration ranging from -0.1 to -0.4 percentage points. Phoenix continued to stand out with an impressive year-over-year return of +23.0% while Atlanta and Dallas had the highest annual growth rates in the history of these indices since 1992 and 2001, respectively.
SIGTARP: Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Quarterly Report to Congress (4/24/13)
SIGTARP: Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Quarterly Report to Congress (PDF)
Source: Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program
In this report, we discuss “too big to fail” and HAMP. Too big to fail caused the TARP bailout and continues to be a threat because of the interconnections of the largest firms. To prevent a future crisis and bailout, regulators should use a tool in Dodd-Frank called “living wills” to roadmap interconnections that pose a grave threat to our financial system and break them off now, rather than waiting until a company’s deathbed. Additionally, SIGTARP is concerned that homeowners are redefaulting on HAMP permanent mortgage modifications at an alarming rate: 46.1% and 39.1% of HAMP modifications from Q3 and Q4 2009 redefaulted, 28.9% to 37.6% from 2010 redefaulted. SIGTARP recommended that Treasury research and analyze the causes of redefaults, develop an early warning system to try and prevent redefaults, and better help homeowners who have redefaulted.
New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Office of National Drug Control Policy: Office Could Better Identify Opportunities to Increase Program Coordination. GAO-13-333, March 26.
2. Air Force Electronic Systems Center: Reorganization Resulted in Workforce Reassignments at Hanscom Air Force Base, but Other Possible Effects Are Not Yet Known. GAO-13-366, April 25.
3. Explosive Ordnance Disposal: DOD Needs Better Resource Planning and Joint Guidance to Manage the Capability. GAO-13-385, April 25.
4. Internal Revenue Service: 2013 Tax Filing Season Performance to Date and Budget Data. GAO-13-541R, April 15.
1. Federal Real Property: Excess and Underutilized Property Is an Ongoing Challenge, by David Wise, director, physical infrastructure, before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, House committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-573T, April 25.
Source: National Association of Realtors
Realtor.com® recently released data regarding the top countries (outside the U.S.) where consumers are the most engaged on Realtor.com® & Realtor.com® International. The data highlights the markets within the U.S. that are most popular amongst these global consumers throughout March 2013.
• Canada: Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Detroit, Naples
• U.K.: Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami, Houston, Las Vegas
• Germany: San Antonio, Los Angeles, Cape Coral, Miami, Las Vegas
• Australia: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, Detroit,
• Japan: San Diego, Alpharetta, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Antonio
• Mexico: San Diego, El Paso, Laredo, San Antonio, Las Vegas
• India: Los Angeles, Orlando, Chicago, Dallas, Houston
• Brazil: Orlando, Miami, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach
• China: Detroit, Los Angeles, Irvine, Las Vegas, Orlando
• France: Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Miami Beach, San Diego
• Russian Federation: Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, New York, Detroit
• South Korea: Las Vegas, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Columbus
• Italy: Miami, Los Angeles, Miami Beach, New York, San Diego
• Netherlands: Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Houston, Las Vegas
• Switzerland: Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Raleigh
• Spain: Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, San Diego
• Ireland: Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Chicago, Miami
• Sweden: Los Angeles, Detroit, Parkland (FL), Miami, Fort Lauderdale
• Belgium: Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, Naperville (IL), Orlando
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Federal Courthouses: Recommended Construction Projects Should Be Evaluated under New Capital- Planning Process. GAO-13-263, April 11.
3. Veterans Health Care: VHA Has Taken Steps to Address Deficiencies in Its Logistics Program, but Significant Concerns Remain. GAO-13-336, April 17.
4. Information Technology: Consistently Applying Best Practices Could Help IRS Improve the Reliability of Reported Cost and Schedule Information. GAO-13-401, April 17.
1. U.S. Postal Service: Urgent Action Needed to Achieve Financial Sustainability, by Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-562T, April 17.
2. Federal Courthouses: Most Recommended New Construction Projects Do Not Qualify Under Improved Capital-Planning Process, by Mark L. Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure issues, before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-13-523T, April 17.
3. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Program Has Improved in Some Areas, but Affordability Challenges and Other Risks Remain, by Michael J. Sullivan, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, House Committee on Armed Services. GAO-13-500T, April 17.
4. Foreclosure Review: Lessons Learned Could Enhance Continuing Reviews and Activities under Amended Consent Orders, by Lawrance L. Evans, Jr., director, financial markets and community investment, before the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. GAO-13-550T, April 17.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Student loans have soared in popularity over the past decade, with the aggregate student loan balance, as measured in the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel, reaching $966 billion at the end of 2012. Student debt now exceeds aggregate auto loan, credit card, and home-equity debt balances—making student loans the second largest debt of U.S. households, following mortgages. Student loans provide critical access to schooling, given the challenge presented by increasing costs of higher education and rising returns to a degree. Nevertheless, some have questioned how taking on extensive debt early in life has affected young workers’ post-schooling economic activity.
To address this issue, we examine trends in homeownership, auto debt, and total borrowing at standard ages of entry into the housing and vehicle markets for U.S. workers.
As seen in the chart below, the share of twenty-five-year-olds with student debt has increased from just 25 percent in 2003 to 43 percent in 2012. Further, the average student loan balance among those twenty-five-year-olds with student debt grew by 91 percent over the period, from $10,649 in 2003 to $20,326 in 2012. Student loan delinquencies have also been growing…
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Foreclosure Review: Lessons Learned Could Enhance Continuing Reviews and Activities under Amended Consent Orders. GAO-13-277, March 26.
2. Political Intelligence: Financial Market Value of Government Information Hinges on Materiality and Timing. GAO-13-389, April 4.
3. Information Sharing: Agencies Could Better Coordinate to Reduce Overlap in Field-Based Activities. GAO-13-471, April 4.
The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation (PDF)
Source: National Association of Realtors, American Public Transportation Association, Center for Neighborhood Technology
Fueled by demographic change and concerns over quality of life, there has been a growing interest in communities with active transportation modes. The recession added another dimension to these discussions by emphasizing the economic impli cations of transportation choices. Housing and transportation, the two economic sectors mostly closely tied to the built environment, were both severely impacted by the economic downturn. There has been a growing effort among planners, real estate professionals, and economists to identify not only the economic benefits of alternative transportation modes in and of themselves, but also the impact that they have on housing prices and value retention. The real estate mantra of “location, location, location” is more important than ever. Moving beyond the traditional arguments that good schools and neighborhood amenities impact housing prices, emerging research has indicated that urban form and transportation options have played a key role in the ability of residential properties to maintain their value since the onset of the recession.
tudies have shown that consumers are willing to pay more for housing located in areas that exemplify new urbanist principles or are “traditional neighborhood developments.” These neighborhoods are walkable, higher density, and have a mix of uses as well as access to jobs and amenities such as transit.
This analysis investigates how well residential properties located in proximity to fixed-guideway transit have maintained their value as compared to residential properties without transit access between 2006 and 2011 in five regions: Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, and San Francisco. The selection of these places for the study regions provides not only a geographic distribution, but also an illustrative sample of the types of fixed-guideway transit systems in the US. Minneapolis-St. Paul and Phoenix have newer light rail systems, while Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco are mature systems dominated by heavy and commuter rail. Additionally, Boston is also home to one of the earlier BRT lines.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Energy Efficiency: Better Coordination among Federal Programs Needed to Allocate Testing Resources. GAO-13-135, March 28.
2. Wind Energy: Additional Actions Could Help Ensure Effective Use of Federal Financial Support. GAO-13-136, March 11.
4. National Science Foundation: Steps Taken to Improve Contracting Practices, but Opportunities Exist to Do More. GAO-13-292, March 28.
5. Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs. GAO-13-294SP, March 28.
6. Export-Import Bank: Recent Growth Underscores Need for Continued Improvements in Risk Management. GAO-13-303, March 28.
7. Major Automated Information Systems: Selected Defense Programs Need to Implement Key Acquisition Practices. GAO-13-311, March 28.
9. Manufactured Homes: State-Based Replacement Programs May Provide Benefits, but Energy Savings Do Not Fully Offset Costs. GAO-13-373, March 28.