Saturday, February 6, 2010

Built on Jenga Blocks, Home Prices Look Shaky

The Homebuyers’ Tax Credit, in many ways, has done exactly what it was suppose to do – stimulate the economy. Notice I didn’t say increase home ownership. The tax credit was never really about buyers. It was about keeping home values stable so the housing sector would not have another wave of foreclosures that would cause a further deterioration of the economy.

The administration realized early on that the number one cause of foreclosures was an increase in ‘negative equity’. Negative equity occurs when the value of a home is less than the mortgage balances on that home. Other terms for this situation are being ‘underwater’ or ‘upside down’ on your mortgage.

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Fed Flip-Flops on House Flips

Finally, some good news from the FHA. Effective February 1st, the FHA is waiving their requirement of the “90 day holding period” before home sellers (predominantly real estate investors and speculators) can resell a piece of real estate to a buyer who uses FHA Insured financing. Given the recent increase of the UFMIP, coming reduction of seller’s concessions, and lower credit scores requiring larger down payments, it is refreshing to see the FHA enacting something that will actually help move inventory and improve neighborhoods.

There are multiple reasons why this is a good idea:

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