Uncle Sam-Ruining Or Running The Housing Market?

Uncle Sam Owns More Homes Than Private Banks

Good news, housing prices only fell 3.8% – some thought prices would be even worse. I guess in our new reality, that’s good news.

CNCBC reports: –

Sales of existing homes fell 3.8 percent in May, not as deep a drop as some had forecast, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.81 million units.

“Spiking gasoline prices along with widespread severe weather hurt house shopping in April, leading to soft figures for actual closings in May,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $166,500 in May, down 4.6 percent from May 2010.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast declined 2.5 percent, in the Midwest dropped 6.4 percent and were down 5.1 percent in the South. Sales, however, were unchanged in the West, where distressed sales are a far higher percentage of the market, and where investors are out in force. Read here: House prices going down

It doesn’t mean houses are any more affordable: – According to the Center for Housing Policy, the research affiliate of the National Housing Conference, housing affordability has significantly decreased for working renters and owners in recent years.

That’s the conclusion of a report by the organization, “Housing Landscape 2011,” which was released this week. According to the report, 10.5 million working–not unemployed–households nationwide experienced a “severe housing cost burden” in 2009, meaning that they spent more than half of their income on housing costs. That’s an increase of nearly 600,000 households in such straits from 2008, despite a drop of 1.1 million in the overall number of working households. Read here: Houses still not affordable

From USA Today: The nation’s teetering economy has Uncle Sam (Editor’s note – that’s our tax money) playing a growing role in neighborhoods across the country — as a homeowner.

The combination of a deep recession and a foundering housing market has left the government with more than 50,000 houses on its hands — enough homes to fill a city the size of Riverside, Calif., or Miami. Now federal records show it’s struggling to unload the houses and facing billions of dollars in losses. Read here: The government is losing big

Reuters reports: The U.S. government is already up to its neck in housing. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, all wards of Uncle Sam, now have a combined 290,000 foreclosed homes they need to unload. That doesn’t even count the million-plus that could end up on their books.

The government effectively owns more foreclosed homes than private-sector banks, thrifts and credit unions combined. That’s even after spending trillions of dollars trying to shore up the housing market since the dawn of the financial crisis. Data released earlier this week showed home prices plumbing new post-crunch lows, suggesting the housing hole could still get deeper.

The government’s role as a distressed seller raises more problems than it does, say, for private banks. Policymakers have broad social responsibilities and face political pressures to avoid making things worse for homeowners. Yet sales out of foreclosure tend to weigh on the residential market since they’re priced to sell quickly…Read here: The Government (us) own a lot of houses