In this era of ubiquitous bailouts, the public discussion seems to overlook the nine out of 10 of homeowners who are paying their mortgages on time. While the proposals put forth by the Obama administration throw enormous sums of good taxpayer money at those who have engaged in irresponsible or even fraudulent behavior, unfairly left out in the cold are the vast majority of Americans who have behaved responsibly. As House Republicans roll out our alternative housing plan today, we do not make that same mistake.
We believe our plan is the most effective way to stimulate home-buying and arrest the free fall in home values that has erased roughly $20 trillion in housing wealth since the market peaked in mid-2007. What distinguishes our program is the emphasis on fairness.
Unlike the administration’s plan, we do not offer help to borrowers who inaccurately represented their income or assets on their original mortgage. Likewise, there is no assistance for lenders who followed improper lending standards and made loans to people who could not afford them.
Instead, the GOP plan gives incentives to all responsible Americans who want to buy a new home or refinance at a lower rate. This includes homeowners who find themselves temporarily unemployed; “neighborhood investors” who would purchase and rent out homes in areas with a high number of foreclosures; growing families who want to trade up to a larger home; empty-nesters seeking to downsize; and families who wish to relocate to a new area.
Republicans are determined to break the deflationary habit of prospective homebuyers and private capital merely waiting on the sidelines for things to get worse. The scaled-down $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers in the recent stimulus bill doesn’t go far enough to tip the balance in favor of buying.
To spur home purchases across the board, we propose:
• A $15,000 home-buyers tax credit for all purchases of primary residences provided that the buyer pays 5 percent down. Boosted by historically low mortgage rates, this tax credit provides the right incentives to get all kinds of capable homebuyers back into the game – not just first-timers. The credit covers purchases made before July 1, 2010.
We also believe we can put a dent in the housing inventory glut by encouraging neighborhood investors. Current law provides incentives only for the purchase of owner-occupied homes. To encourage neighborhood investors to buy and rent out these homes rather than leaving them empty eyesores that further drag down home values in the area, House Republicans propose: