Zillow Chief Hosts HUD Secretary following SOTU

In the first of several planned 'fireside chats' Zillow will host this year, Chief Economist Stan Humphries sat down with HUD Secretary Julian Castro last Wednesday morning. The pair discussed points from the State of the Union address that pertain to home ownership and the ongoing efforts to curtail the stress of buying/owning that reached epic proportions not ten years ago.

During the annual speech, POTUS Barack Obama noted that looking ahead the federal government intends to level the playing field, making the 'American Dream' attainable to folks across the social spectrum. "Things like child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage-- these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families," he said Tuesday night.

Julian Castro, who has held the office of Secretary for the US Department of Housing & Urban Development since July, clarified the collective mission, saying: "The President's focus on ensuring folks have the opportunity to own a home and be middle class is right down the line of what we're focused on at HUD."

An interesting idea that kept coming up during the Zillow/HUD summit was Castro's iteration that owning a home is "the primary source of wealth for many." Evidently it is a misconception among (young or first-time) buyers that you must first be wealthy to purchase a home. "Buying a home is about building equity and wealth that you'll have with you for the long haul, so I encourage folks to be smart about student debt and understand that investing in a home will ultimately create wealth," he said.

HousingWire senior financial reporter Trey Garrison covered the event. His January 22 article notes that Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac account for 90% of home loans and there is a push to expand that. Garrison points out that despite the desire the Obama Administration and HUD have to attract private capital to the mortgage market, discussed in last year's SOTU, initiatives to achieve this are lacking.

Zillow has other real estate authorities on deck for the "Housing Roadmap" series, including Mark Calabria of the Cato Insititute and former FHA commissioner Carol Galante. Humphries described the program in a company release; "Today, though, the trends and issues affecting Americans can't be summed up by rising or falling prices; they're much more complex and localized. So we're hitting the road, and digging deep into these issues in the neighborhoods where they're playing out. I can't wait for these discussions, and to report our findings back to policymakers, because the national housing conversation is, in the end, a local one."

Team Gale founder Jack Gale weighed in on how some of the issues discussed by Zillow Chief Stan Humphries and HUD Secretary Julian Castro will impact the real estate market here in coastal Carolina.

Gale believes 2015 will be a great year for buying and selling, an upward trend that is most welcome in the realty community after so many hard years and burst bubbles. "I believe the local housing market will continue at a similar pace to the growth we experienced in 2014. I think there will be a softening in the Jacksonville housing market, due to the winding down in the military. The impact could be reduced if the Republican Congress and Senate increase our presence overseas because of... threats in the Middle East and elsewhere."

Gale has been in real estate for fifteen years, and notes that the stated goals and objectives outlined by Obama in the SOTU are "all words we have heard before without substance," so there may not be any real benefits to the housing market on the horizon. "If the government truly wants to help housing, it needs to provide a better process for people who owe more than their property is worth." Additionally, Gale feels that a finite protocol for banks and servicers need be established to prevent loss of data. "The government should define the process for... how long the process should take to short sale a property, what information is required, establish parameters for electronic systems to enter the mortgagee's data," he says. "Many times mortgagee's information is lost due to a staffing change or just misplaced files. These situations cause delays, which in turn cause buyers to walk away from a purchase because they can't wait any longer."



Posted in Market Reports, Team Gale, Wilmington NC Real Estate on Jan 27, 2015