By Peter Ricci
Mitt Romney doubled down on his earlier promises and commitments for the U.S. housing market late last week, releasing a white paper that contained more information about some of the policy initiatives floated on his campaign website.
Romney, as well as President Obama, has fielded considerable criticism in recent weeks for lacking any specific housing policy in his campaign for the presidency, and it would appear the Republican nominee is attempting to quell some of those criticisms.
Romney Housing Policy – The Anti-Obama
As Romney made clear in his initial proposals, his housing policies can be aptly described as the antithesis of President Obama, and he further developed those ideas in the white paper, which spends its first half critiquing the President’s own housing policies. Once that concludes, though, here are the main points the white paper covers:
- GSE Reform – Romney reaffirms his commitment to reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, equating the two firms with the infamous “Too Big to Fail” policy and promising “a long-term, sustainable solution for the future of housing finance reform in our country.”
- Vacant Homes – Romney also returns to the topic of the government’s REO holdings, stating that he’ll sell the government’s 200,000 or so vacant properties to private investors, who will then rent the properties.
- Foreclosure Alternatives – Also on the distressed property front, Romney states he’ll offer more alternatives to foreclosure for struggling homeowners, such as short sales, deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure and shared appreciation.
- Financial Regulations – And finally, Romney says he’ll make “sensible” financial regulations a part of his housing policy, and will usher in a new era of normal lending standards that “will allow banks to approve loans to families with good credit rather than rejecting their mortgage applications.”
Romney Housing Policy – The Anti-Obama?
Interestingly, Romney’s housing policy does not seem very different from Obama’s. As Business Week has argued, Romney’s plan for vacant homes sounds quite similar to what the FHFA is currently working towards, and the Obama Treasury Department is currently pursuing plans to revamp the GSE system. But what are your thoughts on Romney’s housing policy?