All Stimulus All The Time

Published: February 6, 2009

“We need to fix housing first” according to Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of the fabled Obama stimulus program. I suggest everybody pay attention to Sen McConnell – he knows whereof he speaks.

Watching the gyrations going on around the various stimuli/bail-out bills has been nothing short of breathtaking of late. It’s little wonder the average American is totally bumfuddled. I suspect most of the people voting on the bill are equally in the dark. Even at our recent state association meetings you really needed a scorecard to sort out the players.

Let’s see, our Senator Boxer, who has been a frequent target of Republicans, Realtors and damn near any thinking human being is suddenly a ‘good guy’ because she has stepped up to fill Hillary’s sensible medium heel shoes in sponsoring the Community Choice In Lending Act, otherwise known as “get Banks the Hell Out of Real Estate Act’. She has apparently become quite a friend to housing and as such has now gone off-limits and become one of the ‘good guys’.

Barney Frank, whose pronouncements on the health of Fannie & Freddie have been the butt of YouTube humor for months is also shown a friendlier side to housing – certainly a much more sympathetic countenance than former Chairman Oxley, who in spite of being a Republican with a Realtor wife was a constant thorn in the side.

Our Federal liaisons and NAR reps are tripping over themselves trying to figure out who’s who and who’s on our side at any given time on any given bill.

The stimulus bill itself, widely gaining disfavor, it still highly favored to pass in spite of the copious layering of lard slathered on it’s infrastructure. So rather than fight against the passage of this bill which will mortgage our future, and our children s future to the 3rd generation at least, everybody is lining up to make sure they get their share of the pie. Makes sense.

So if we’re going to make the best of a bad situation, we better all make our voices heard for Real Estate. Some of NAR’s 4 Point Plan appears to be making progress and that’s good. The GOP is said to be coalescing around the NAR/BIA plan to incent banks to lower mortgage interest rates to 4% – 4.5%. I kn ow NAR was actually pushing to get that to 3% for 1 year and 4% for a 2nd year, but if we can get a 4% mortgage and incent banks to actually loan the money, that’s a good thing.

Then there’s the plan to extend a $15,000 tax credit for homebuyers through the end of the year. The current $7,500 tax credit is faltering because it’s just for 1st time buyers and it must be paid back. This $15,000 credit would apply to all home buyers and would not needs to be paid back. This beats the BIA proposal which was for $10,000 but only for new home buyers and even trumps the NAR plan which was only $10,000 for every home buyer.

We also won a small and hardly noticed victory last week on GSE reform. We were finally able to get the upper loan limits increased just as the market was collapsing around our ears. But the increases were tied to a percentage of the median house price. Our concern was that now that housing prices have declined so precipitously in most major markets, the GSE limits would start ratcheting down as well. Last week they decided to keep the limits where they are for the time being – sparing us from once again fighting that battle when the market comes roaring back again.

And it will. You know it will. It actually probably would rebound faster if we could just keep the government from interfering continually. But regardless, it will be back. But in the meanwhile, Realtors would be damn fools to walk away from the smorgasboard of gratuitous pork. After all, housing precipitated the current slump, housing will lead the way back out. If we’re not at this table, we will be on the menu.

As I finish writing this I hear we may have reached a compromise on the stimulus package. Let’s see if Republicans sold their soul for a bail-out or if Demivcrats actually managed to forego some of their addiction to pork-fat. Film at 11 no doubt.

Last modified: February 6, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Originally published: February 6, 2009 at 4:32 pm
Printed: September 30, 2020