For the first time since the Carter administration, homeownership in the United States is set to decline over a president's tenure. When President Bush took office in 2001, homeownership stood at 67.6 percent. It rose as the mortgage bubble inflated but is projected to fall to 67 percent by early 2009, which would come to 700,000 fewer homeowners than when Mr. Bush started. The decline, calculated by Moody's Economy.com, is inexorable unless the government launches a heroic effort to help hundreds of thousands of defaulting borrowers stay in their homes.Does anyone still think the middle class is not an endangered species? This is the most destructive administration in our history.
The foreclosure crisis is rooted in reckless and shamefully underregulated mortgage lending. Many homeowners, mainly subprime borrowers with low incomes and poor credit, are now stuck in adjustable-rate loans that have become unaffordable as monthly payments have spiked upward. Their predicament is not entirely of their own making, and even if it were they would need to be bailed out because mass foreclosures would wreak unacceptable damage on the economic and social life of the nation.
The relief efforts so far have been too little, too late. In August, the White House established a program to allow an additional 80,000 borrowers to refinance their loans through the Federal Housing Administration, on top of 160,000 who were already eligible. That's not enough. Foreclosure filings soared to nearly 244,000 in August alone.
Federal regulators and Treasury officials are urging mortgage lenders and mortgage servicers to do their utmost to modify loan terms for at-risk borrowers, but saying "please" hasn't worked. To be effective, modifications must reduce a loan's interest rate or balance or extend its term, or some combination of the three. Gretchen Morgenson reported recently in The Times that a survey of 16 top subprime servicers by Moody's Investors Service found that in the first half of the year, modifications were made to an average of only 1 percent of loans on which monthly payments had increased.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Home Ownership Declines Under Bush
This is what you call a successful Presidency.