By Carlo Calma
With Election Day getting closer and closer, where do President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney stand on the state of the real estate industry?
At press time, only Romney features a section on housing policy on his campaign website. However, both candidates have not been very vocal about housing issues in their speeches or public appearances. Below is a brief rundown of each candidate’s position on housing-related issues to take into consideration before you cast your vote on Nov. 6.
MID – At a private fundraiser in April, Romney said he would eliminate or limit certain tax deductions to offset the cost of his proposed income tax cut, one being the mortgage interest tax deduction for second homes, according to a Wall Street Journal article.
HUD – At that same fundraiser, Romney also commented on the government departments and agencies he would consider consolidating or even eliminating, saying, “Things like Housing and Urban Development (HUD) … that might not be around later,” according to the Washington Post.
Loan Regulation – On his website, Romney criticizes the Obama administration’s “8,000 pages of new rules and regulations,” because such rules have made it more difficult for homeowners to apply for a loan. His proposal promises to improve the current lending market by placing “smarter regulations … that hold banks accountable and restart lending to creditworthy borrowers.”
Foreclosures – Though Romney said, “don’t try and stop the foreclosure process – let it run its course and hit the bottom,” during a meeting with the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s editorial board last October, his position has changed. In his housing plan published on his website, Romney vowed to “responsibly” sell the 200,000 vacant foreclosed homes owned by the government, and create alternatives to foreclosed properties that will, “minimize instability of communities hard hit by the housing crisis [and] preserve the credit of homeowners.”
MID – Contrary to Romney, Obama reaffirmed his support of the mortgage interest tax deduction in his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, saying, “I refuse to ask middle-class families to give up their deductions for owning a home … just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut.”
HUD – Quite the opposite of Romney’s stance, Loansafe.org is reporting that in Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget, the president proposed to “allocate $2.23 billion to homeless assistance programs at [HUD]; a 17 percent increase compared to the FY 2012.”
Refinancing – Reports surfaced in mid-August that the Obama administration will push for a wider refinance plan for underwater homeowners. The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act, drafted by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. Robert Mendez (D-NJ), would help roughly 11.4 million underwater homeowners by eliminating up-front fees completely on refinances and eliminate appraisal costs for all borrowers, amongst other features, according to Sen. Boxer’s website.
Principal Reduction – Edward DeMarco, the acting head for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, has consistently struck down requests that the form of loan forgiveness for underwater homeowners be passed to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Despite this, the Obama administration – particularly the Treasury Department – continues to insist DeMarco pursue the policy, because the use of principle reduction would provide much needed help to troubled homeowners.
It remains to be seen how each candidate’s position on housing-related issues will evolve, and whether they will have a better laid out foundation for their positions for the first presidential debate on Oct. 3.