News & Moves: January 1, 2009

A new housing industry coalition petitions Congress for a bailout; links to housing news you should know; housing's latest moves

January 14, 2009

New Home Building Industry Coalition Asks for Bailout

Watching one industry after another cue up for federal bailouts finally triggered a response from America's largest home builders, and from the NAHB, which in November pulled together “Fix Housing First,“ a coalition of more than 600 housing industry-related companies and organizations, to lobby for government help. The first week of January, 150 members will attempt to persuade more than 90 members of Congress directly on Capitol Hill.

“It started with conversations among the largest builders, members of NAHB's High Production Home Builders Council,” says Ken Gear, Pulte Homes' vice president of government affairs, now the acting executive director of the Fix Housing First. “We discussed how Congress is bailing out banks and other industries, but not addressing the real problem. What needs to get fixed, before anything else will get better, is housing.”

Gear says high production council members discovered that similar conversations were taking place among NAHB officers. “The issues are the same for builders of every size,” he says, “so NAHB took the lead in organizing the coalition, and the largest builders are taking a very active role in promoting and raising funds, and selling the idea to manufacturers and all the related industries that depend on housing.”

The coalition is asking Congress for enhancements to the $7,500 home buyer tax credit enacted last summer (which they say has not worked at all) and subsidies to provide below-market, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to spur home purchases. The coalition cites a similar plan that it says worked in 1975, when Congress passed a short-term $2,000 tax credit along with subsidized mortgage rates.

“Our proposal calls for tax credits averaging about $15,000,” Gear says, “but it's different in various areas, according to what average housing costs are. It's based on the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac loan limits, and ranges from $10,000 to $22,000.” Fix Housing First also wants a 2.99 percent rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages originated in the first six months of 2009, then 3.99 percent for the rest of the year.

Fix Housing First already faces opposition from some economists, who say building more houses would be a mistake, with the huge inventory of unsold homes still on the market. The debate seems to hinge on how much further home prices have to drop to align with historical norms.

— Bill Lurz 


FDIC Under Attack from Builders

— Wall Street Journal

Home builders nationwide rebuff FDIC's demands to pay back loans early and offering fewer loans. 

Jack Hoffman, 84, Took Chicago Building Success Nationwide

— HousingZone

The creator of Chicago's first condo high-rise also built homes for veterans across the U.S.

Green Homes for $225,000

— Wall Street Journal

Green Builders is targeting the middle class with $225,000 homes.

Ownership Changes Among Home Builders?

— CNN Money

Beazer Homes is facing ownership changes under the Internal Revenue Service Section 382 as a result of posting fourth quarter losses. 

Top 10 Markets to Watch

— Forbes

Forbes lists the Top 10 places where home prices are likely to rise.

Home Builder Restructures $8.8 Million Debt

— MarketWatch

Comstock Homebuilding Cos. entered into loan modification agreements with Bank of America. 

Is the Next Crisis in FHA Loans?


The nation could suffer a fresh wave of defaults and foreclosures in the next year. 

Home Builder Faces Foreclosure Lawsuit

— Suburban Chicago News

First Midwest Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the Illinois-based home builder Pasquinelli Etal. 

Building Permits Fall 80 percent in One City

— Visalia Times-Delta

Read why building permits for Visalia, Calif., have been in a freefall for three years. 

Drop in Foreclosures for Maryland

— Baltimore Sun

Maryland has seen a drop of 16 percent in foreclosures, but officials in the state say its temporary. 

Great Housing Market: Northern Alabama?

— The Huntsville Times

Home Builder Mark Harris of Mark Harris Homes sees a great housing market in northern Alabama. 

And the Top-Rated Private Equity Fund Administration Goes to ...

— MarketWatch

J.P. Morgan received best-in-class recognition across 43 service categories. 

A New Home Builder in a Bad Market

— The Arizona Republic

A home builder in Scottsdale, Ariz., is starting a new home building company in the midst of its debt. 

Investor Says No to Mortgage Modifications

— Business Week

A private investor filed a lawsuit alleging Countrywide's proposed mortgage modifications are illegal.

Fannie Mae Appoints CFO

Herbert M. Allison, president and CEO for Fannie Mae, appointed David M. Johnson to executive vice president and chief financial officer. Previously, Johnson worked for Hartfold Financial Services Group, where he was EVP and chief financial officer. 

Ryland Homes Promotion

Nicole Dempster

Ryland Homes announced Nicole Dempster was promoted to marketing coordinator for the Charlotte division in Charlotte, N.C. Dempster has been with the company for five years and held various positions in sales.


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