Last July, I warned that policymakers in Washington, increasingly desperate for revenue, were beginning to look hungrily at the home mortgage interest deduction. Indeed, I specifically pointed out to readers that Representative Dave Camp, (R-Michigan), and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was holding hearings collecting testimony designed to undermine the case for the home mortgage interest deduction. Camp is making his move.
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Read more about The Tax Reform Act of 2014
Don’t look now, but the federal government seems to have developed a website that actually works! The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the federal watchdog agency created under the Dodd-Frank financial reforms of 2010, has created a site that aggregates mortgage data nationwide and collects it in a series of well-executed infographics.
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Read more about The New Mortgage Data Website
Hard as it seems to believe, struggling homeowners have had it easy for the last seven years in at least one way: The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act gave anyone who got foreclosed on or short-sold their home a substantial tax break. Prior to 2007, the IRS considered forgiven debt as ordinary income to the debtor. The benefit of tax forgiveness was considered to be substantially the same as a cash benefit, and therefore the debtor was charged income tax
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Read more about The Expired Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act
It may be a little bit tougher now for more marginal borrowers to qualify for home mortgages than it was just a few weeks ago. That’s because a series of new rules became effective on Jan. 10 that require lenders to take greater care that their borrowers can actually afford to pay back their qualified mortgages. In a nutshell, the new 800-page regulation defines the following requirements for qualified mortgages
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Read more about New Rules for Qualified Mortgages
A new rule, effective Jan. 18, makes the appraisal and loan underwriting process substantially more transparent for the average borrower. Specifically, an amendment to Regulation B, one of the regulatory provisions pursuant to the implementation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, forces lenders to disclose to borrowers, in writing, that they are entitled to a copy of “any and all appraisals and other written valuations developed in
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Read more about New Rules for Appraisals
It was tough for a while. In the four years following the 2008 near-collapse of the banking system under the strain of the mortgage crisis, bankers were so wary of getting stung again that it was tough to get a loan at all. Why would lenders lend? They could buy equities dirt cheap in 2009, for example, while returns available on long-term real estate loans were headed to the cellar.
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Read more about Private Mortgage Insurance
The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee met on December 17 and 18, and after long last is doing what central banks are supposed to do: take away the punchbowl just as the party gets going. After months of creating $85 billion every month out of thin air for more than a year, and using the cash to prop up the staggering mortgage market by buying GSE bonds in the biggest and
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Read more about The Federal Reserve’s Tapering
A prominent Senator, Max Baucus (D-Montana), has unveiled a draft proposal that would sharply reduce or eliminate a number of tax breaks currently enjoyed by real estate investors. Specifically, the draft proposal would eliminate Section 1031 “like-kind” exchanges. It would also lengthen the current depreciation schedule under MACRS from 39 years for commercial property and 27.5 years for residential property to 43 years for both.
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Read more about Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges
Believe it or not, the practice of filibustering has its roots in real estate and land management policy. During the reign of Julius Caesar as consul in the Roman Republic, the Roman Senate had a rule that all legislative business must be accomplished before sunset. This had the laudable effect of prohibiting legislators from passing measures “in the dead of night.” But it also created a window for those in a minority coalition to
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Read more about Filibustering and Housing Policy
For generations, the longstanding goal of homeownership as a key component of the American dream was propped up on … strategic ambiguity. When Congress chartered the twin government-sponsored enterprises of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to create a ready secondary market for mortgages to encourage bank lending, they didn’t specify any sort of government guaranty or backing should these enterprises fail.
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Read more about Government-Sponsored Enterprises