Week in Review: Things We Liked from the Week That Was

As the Category 4 Hurricane Earl steers toward the east coast, the real estate world was in a tailspin of its own after two short phrases spurred a lot of speculation: “Not off the table” and “Too soon to say.” The rumor mill started churning last Sunday when HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan uttered them during a morning news show regarding revival of the popular home tax credit. Some speculated a renewal would benefit buyers purchasing foreclosed properties or short sales, but be unfair to those who bought in the non-tax-credit period. Alas, the rumors were put to rest, at least for now. Isn’t it a little early in the season for a snowball? —effect, that is.

On an initiative that’s actually based entirely on fact, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan announced this week the start of The First Look program which will give state and local governments the right to buy foreclosed properties at a one percent discount before they go on the market. The aim is to get the homes rehabilitated, rented, resold or demolished and bring “much-needed speed” to the sale of these homes. Here’s hoping this initiative significantly decreases the number of homes under water, since new research shows foreclosures can affect more than the wallet.

For a dose of good news, data released by the Mortgage Bankers Association found that the number of U.S. households that missed consecutive mortgage payments or were in foreclosure fell more in the second quarter than any other since the mortgage crisis began four years ago. We hope this trend continues!

The company that brought us the ability to view our homes from space, Google, is helping to find new homes for others by creating an $86-million Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) fund. The fund will subsidize the construction and operation of 480 affordable rental units in seven communities in the West and Midwest. What a great use of charitable resources!

If your clients are still a bit mystified as to how financial reform may affect them personally, this report in U.S. News & World Report is a great guide for conversation.

Although many summer revelers sadly bid farewell to the season over the holiday weekend, I subscribe to the official astronomical end-date of September 22 (don’t we all deserve a few more weeks of summer?). Happy Labor Day!

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