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Archive for the ‘housing and real estate’ Category

Nonbank Specialty Servicers: What’s the Big Deal?

August 31, 2014 Comments off

Nonbank Specialty Servicers: What’s the Big Deal?
Source: Urban Institute

Following the crisis, nonbank specialty servicers rapidly expanded their portfolios of distressed loans. This has contributed to a significant market change: in 2011, the 10 largest mortgage servicers were all banks; by 2013, only five of the top 10 were banks, and the other five were nonbank servicers. The rapid growth and lack of a federal regulator have contributed to significant, heated regulatory scrutiny. This commentary discusses major concerns raised about the largest nonbank servicers, focusing on the three fastest-growing large nonbank servicers. We explore the regulatory and market framework driving their striking growth, then address the major charges against them, in an effort to elevate the debate and inform sound policy.

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New From the GAO

August 25, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Education of Homeless Students: Improved Program Oversight Needed. GAO-14-465, July 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-465
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665184.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/665378

2. Federal Real Property: GSA Should Better Target Its Use of Swap-Construct Exchanges. GAO-14-586, July 24.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-586
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665027.pdf

3. Regulatory Impact Analysis: Development of Social Cost of Carbon Estimates. GAO-14-663, July 24.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-663
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665015.pdf

VA Loans Outperform FHA Loans. Why? And What Can We Learn?

August 22, 2014 Comments off

VA Loans Outperform FHA Loans. Why? And What Can We Learn?
Source: Urban Institute

Veterans Administration (VA) loans have consistently performed better than Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. In this commentary, we take a closer look at both programs to identify why VA loans perform better. We conclude that the residual income test may be a critical differentiating factor and suggest that regulators evaluate whether the test might be a good supplement to FHA’s current assessment of a borrower’s ability to pay.

City Replanning

August 21, 2014 Comments off

City Replanning
Source: Social Science Research Network

In this paper we provide a new defense for one of the most criticized ideas in land use law, that city plans should constitute settled deals about the proper uses of land that should be sticky against subsequent zoning amendments. In the middle of the last century, several prominent scholars argued that courts should find zoning amendments that were contrary to city plans ultra vires. But this idea was largely rejected by courts and scholars alike, with leading figures like Carol Rose, Robert Nelson and Bill Fischel arguing that parcel-specific zoning amendments provide space for the give-and-take of democracy and lead to the efficient amount of development by encouraging negotiations between developers and residents over externalities from new building projects. Their case against plans and in favor of deals suggested that zoning authorities act either as arbiters in land use disputes or as agents for existing residents to encourage negotiated solutions.

We argue, by contrast, that the dismissal of plans was shortsighted and has helped contribute to the excessive strictness of zoning in our richest and most productive cities and regions, which has driven up housing prices excessively and produced outcomes that are economically inefficient and distributively unattractive. In contrast with both planning’s critics and supporters, we argue that plans and comprehensive remappings are best understood as deals. Plans and remappings facilitate trades between city councilmembers who understand the need for new development but refuse to have their neighborhoods be dumping grounds for all new construction. Further, by setting forth what can be constructed as of right, plans reduce the information costs borne by purchasers of land and developers, broadening the market for new construction. We argue that land use law should embrace a version of plans as a procedural tool that packages together policies and sets of zoning changes in a number of neighborhoods simultaneously through procedures that make such packages difficult to unwind.

We conclude by arguing that modern property law scholarship has failed to recognize that real property law is now substantially a public law subject and should be studied using the tools of public law. Leading scholars, most notably Tom Merrill and Henry Smith, have developed sophisticated tools for analyzing the ways in which the common law of property is designed to reduce information costs, which we employ here. But the field has ignored the fact that the common law of property is far less important than it once was as a method for regulating real property ownership and use. Legislatures and administrative agencies at a variety of levels determine most of the rules governing how real property is used and purchased. In order to understand how today’s property law increases or reduces the information costs facing owners, users, potential purchasers and third-parties to property, the field must make an “institutional turn,” studying the likely effects on policy of different institutional arrangements and procedures.

Estimating Bicycling and Walking for Planning and Project Development: A Guidebook

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Estimating Bicycling and Walking for Planning and Project Development: A Guidebook
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 770: Estimating Bicycling and Walking for Planning and Project Development: A Guidebook contains methods and tools for practitioners to estimate bicycling and walking demand as part of regional-, corridor-, or project-level analyses.

The products of the research include a guidebook for practitioners on a range of methods for estimating bicycling and walking activity and a CD-ROM containing a GIS Walk Accessibility Model, spreadsheets, and the contractor’s final report, which documents the research and tools that operationalize the methods described in the guidebook.

Interactive Map: Where Can Renters Afford to Own?

August 19, 2014 Comments off

Interactive Map: Where Can Renters Afford to Own?
Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

Homebuyer affordability remains near an all-time high, so where are all the first-time homebuyers? According to indexes that incorporate gross measures of house prices, interest rates, and household incomes, affordability remains at unprecedented levels. The National Association of Realtors® index, for instance, shows that the median-income household can afford to buy a home in all but 7 percent of the largest metros. Given that affordability looks good on paper, the lack of first-time homebuyers in all metros has been surprising. In 2013, first-time homebuyers made up 38 percent of home purchases, below the historical average of 40 percent, dating back to 1981. The most recent American Housing Survey shows that 3.3 million households were first-time buyers in 2009-2011, a 22 percent drop from the 2001 survey, which covered 1999-2001. This decline in first-time buyers comes in spite of real mortgage payments for the median home that remain below $800 (levels unprecedented before the recession) and a 7 percentage point decline in the mortgage payment-to-income ratio since 2001.

Historically, the majority of first-time buyers are households aged 25-34. Looking at renters in this age group, most would find the monthly costs of homeownership affordable in many metros across the country. Indeed, in 42 of the 85 metros studied, more than half of renters can afford the monthly costs of homeownership. Nearly 30 percent of the 25-34 year old renters in our sample lived in these affordable metros. Only in six metros, concentrated almost exclusively in California, are renter incomes so low compared to house prices that less than 30 percent of renters aged 25-34 can afford the costs of owning.

So why, given that so many metros are affordable to potential 25-34 year old first-time buyers, has the first-time buyer share remained low? Many demographic and economic forces are constraining the transition to homeownership for renters in their 20s and 30s.

Dependent Children Usually Resident in England and Wales with a Parental Second Address, 2011

August 15, 2014 Comments off

Dependent Children Usually Resident in England and Wales with a Parental Second Address, 2011
Source: Office for National Statistics

Dependent children who shared their time between two different parental addresses were analysed for the usually resident population in England and Wales using 2011 Census data. Analysis includes the age and sex profiles of these children in 2011, as well as their geographical distribution and location of their usual residence and parental second address.

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