Tuesday, March 09, 2010
From a story by Diana Olick at CNBC late yesterday on the possibility of the federal government getting behind a large-scale program to reduce principal balances on underwater mortgages comes a keen observation from housing consultant Howard Glaser.
Home prices have fallen so far in the hardest hit areas, the areas where the bulk of the troubled loans are, that banks would have to write down principal 30 to 50 percent to put borrowers back in the green. Accounting rules require that banks write down the value of those loans on their books, and experts tell me that if banks really accounted for all the losses in the home loan market, they'd all be insolvent.Mr. Glaser does a good job with that summation and one important tidbit that dovetails nicely with the tax credits, loan modifications, assisted short-sales, and possible principal reduction is the fact that the U.S. government, via wards of the state Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, basically own the entire mortgage market.
That's why the Obama Administration has created this kind of shell game in the first place.
I stole that shell game idea from housing consultant Howard Glaser: "We're spending tens of billions of dollars on a tax credit to get people to purchase homes, we're spending federal money to keep them in their homes through the modification program, and now we're going to pay them to move out of their homes. This is not a sustainable system for the housing market. It's a shell game. Bernie Madoff could have created this system," Glaser told me today.