More housing help to be unveiled at news conference
March 6th, 2012
09:30 AM ET

More housing help to be unveiled at news conference

WASHINGTON (CNN) –With the U.S. housing market still struggling to recover, President Obama is hoping to provide some relief for those in the military, veterans and homeowners with government insured loans.

The announcement, expected to come at the president’s 1:15pm news conference Tuesday in the White House briefing room, aims to reduce fees for borrowers with FHA loans who are trying to refinance at lower rates, saving about $1000 a year.

In addition, the president is expected to announce an agreement with lenders that will compensate those in the military and veterans who have been “wrongfully” charged higher interest rates and “wrongfully” foreclosed upon, according to information provided by a White House official.

“This is part of the president’s overall strategy to support responsible homeowners and the housing recovery,” the statement said.

Topics: Housing • Military • Military Families
Analysts disagree over benefits of new mortgage rules
President Obama speaks in front of the Bonilla family's house on October 24 in Las Vegas, Nevada to announce a housing initiative to help homeowners with federally guaranteed mortgages refinance their homes. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
October 25th, 2011
03:21 PM ET

Analysts disagree over benefits of new mortgage rules

A day after President Obama announced adjustments to the rules governing his 2009 Home Affordable Refinance Program the independent analyses are now trickling in. CNN Money has a good write-up here, and this seems to be the crux of how they see the prevailing opinion:

The program is being touted as a way to help stabilize the housing market and stimulate the economy. But without addressing distressed homeowners and helping to clear the foreclosure glut, the effects will likely be limited, experts said.

"I would call it much to do about nothing," said John Burns, head of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. "It will help in such a small way, it's almost meaningless."

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, disagrees. He predicted that under the old rules a total of 1.25 million homeowners would refinance their mortgages under HARP before the original end date in June 2012. The new rules will spur an additional 1.6 million homeowners to refinance before the end of 2013 when the program is now set to wind down, Zandi predicts.

That means that by his calculations, 2.85 million homeowners will participate in the HARP program, far short of the 4 to 5 million originally predicted by the administration. But Zandi doesn’t believe that this means HARP should be viewed as a failure.

“The program will ultimately provide a meaningful boost to the broader economy as financially stressed households will benefit from much lower mortgage payments,” Zandi wrote in an email to CNN. “It will also provide a bit of help to the housing market by forestalling some mortgage defaults.”

But there seems to be some disagreement among experts over exactly how “meaningful” that economic boost will be, and precisely how much help the new program will provide to the housing market.

CNN Money does well at summarizing the two sides of the argument:

The effort really is an economic stimulus program, experts said. By reducing homeowners' monthly payments, it will allow them to spend money on other things and spur demand. FULL POST

Topics: Housing • President Obama