By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
About half a dozen articles and editorials have come out in the last two days cautioning against the federal government imposing a national moratorium on foreclosures while banks review their processes. They’re summarized here for informational purposes only.
The Politics of Foreclosure, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 10, 2010. The foreclosure problem isn’t about whether some home owners had their homes wrongly foreclosed upon (there’s been no evidence of that to date) but to what extent banks were taking short cuts on foreclosure procedures in states requiring judicial foreclosures. Banks need to conduct their reviews and correct their processing mistakes, but talk in Congress about imposing a national foreclosure moratorium would unnecessarily disrupt the housing market at a time when it needs to find its bottom and move on.
SIFMA: U.S.-Wide Foreclosure Moratorium Would Be a ‘Catastrophe’, Dow Jones Newswires, Oct. 10, 2010. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) says cases of incorrect foreclosure processing must be identified and addressed on a case-by-case basis but imposing a national moratorium while banks sort things out could be “catastrophic” for the housing market and the economy.
Senior White House Official: Not Sure About a National Foreclosure Moratorium, Washington Post, Oct. 10, 2010. White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod says there are valid foreclosures that would get caught up in a national moratorium, throwing the housing market into turmoil. Meanwhile, congressional leaders are ramping up talk about imposing a national moratorium.
Obama Administration Does Not Support U.S. Moratorium on Foreclosures, Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2010. FHA Commissioner David Steven says it’s crucial to protect households from being foreclosed upon in error but the government must be careful not to overreach and apply a remedy that will make the problem of foreclosures worse, which is what a national moratorium could do.
Foreclosure Freeze Could Undermine Housing Market, Associated Press, Oct. 11, 2010. Widely watched housing economists Karl Case of Wellesey and Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics were starting to become relatively upbeat about the housing market before the foreclosure processing problems came to light. Now both of them are concerned that the problem, and the effort to fix it, could set back the recovery. “Anything that slows the foreclosure process is a bad thing,” says Case. Banks say the issue isn’t whether the mortgages should have been foreclosed upon but about the procedures they used, because most people who were foreclosed upon were behind on their payments.