January 10, 2013
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Housing will boost economic growth in 2013, analysts say
Home sales and new construction are accelerating, setting the stage for the housing sector to contribute to higher U.S. growth in 2013, many analysts say. "Increased new residential construction activity will lead to employment gains, which should translate into higher consumption and modest GDP growth," said Robert Wetenhall, a homebuilding analyst with RBC Capital Markets.  Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.)/Bloomberg (1/6)
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10 banks agree to $8.5B foreclosure settlement
Ten large banks have agreed to an $8.5 billion settlement with regulators over allegations that they didn't use proper foreclosure processes. Under the agreement, 3.8 million borrowers who were foreclosed on in 2009 or 2010 will be paid a total of $3.3 billion. The settlement ends a review of foreclosure files that began in April 2011 -- a process that regulators said was taking too long and not delivering aid to consumers.  The Wall Street Journal (1/7)
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Policy Roundup
Consumer bureau announces rules for mortgage lending
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today outlined rules requiring banks to ensure that borrowers have income sufficient to repay their mortgage loans and restricting balloon payments and upfront fees and points. The so-called "qualified mortgage" rules are meant to prevent the lending practices that contributed to the financial crisis. They provide legal protection for lenders that follow the new lending standards and leave those that do not open to lawsuits.  The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (1/10), Bloomberg (1/10), The Washington Post (1/9)
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Lawmaker: CFPB needs to change rule on high-cost mortgages
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is asking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to adjust a Dodd-Frank Act rule that defines a high-cost mortgage as a first mortgage with interest rates of 6.5% on homes valued at less than $50,000. He says the rule will curb lending to those who can afford only manufactured housing.  Housing Wire (1/8)
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Location, Location, Location
How tax credits have spurred residential growth in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Low Income Housing Tax Credits have financed many of the residential construction projects in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., over the past five years. State officials say the city is one of the most successful markets for low-income housing in the U.S., as a result of developers' leveraging the credits. Some observers, however, say Grand Rapids developers are over-reliant on the tax credits and that the city needs more market-rate housing and new commercial developments.  MiBiz (Michigan) (1/6)
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Trends in Housing
Apartment rents increased again in Q4
Apartment prices in the U.S. are rising as plentiful numbers of renters drive down vacancy rates. An increase in average rent in the fourth quarter marked the 12th consecutive quarterly increase, according to real estate firm Reis. Such a trend generally drives renters to purchase homes, but tighter lending standards and renters' desire for mobility are among the factors keeping people from buying.  Reuters (1/8), The Wall Street Journal (1/7)
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Home equity rose in 2012
Americans' home equity jumped 20% in the first nine months of 2012, after five years of negative and stagnant trends, according to Federal Reserve data. A decline in the housing inventory has helped boost home prices in many U.S. markets, which in turn has led to the gains in home equity.  Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (1/6)
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Health and Housing
Elderly Americans face financial struggles
Many aging Americans are unprepared financially for retirement and are struggling with basic expenses such as shelter, food and medicine. Many have nowhere to turn for help. "We have 10,000 people turning 65 every day," said Zach Hudson, a police officer in Florida who helped start the Seniors Intervention Group. "And the fastest-growing segment of homeless are among the elderly. Can you imagine being 85 and homeless?"  Governing (1/2013)
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The Economy and Housing
Government spending influences housing choices, report finds
A report from Smart Growth America finds that the U.S. government spends $450 billion a year in housing-related tax credits, loan guarantees, grants and other programs. Those expenditures influence the housing choices that Americans make, the group says.  The Atlantic Cities (1/8)
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Housing Matters Spotlight
Boosting energy transparency to preserve affordable housing
Over the past decade, the nearly 40 million Americans living in multifamily buildings have seen their energy costs rise by 20%. A new report from Macarthur Foundation grantee Institute for Market Transformation analyzes energy transparency in the multifamily housing sector and finds that the nation's multifamily housing stock holds potential for major energy-efficiency gains, which would improve housing affordability by keeping renters' utility bills down. IMT states that greater transparency and tracking of energy use can drive these gains, and recommends that cities work with local utilities to ensure that building owners can access energy data and that energy-performance information be integrated into real estate listings.
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About How Housing Matters
The How Housing Matters research initiative seeks to explore whether, and if so how, having a decent, stable, affordable home leads to strong families and vibrant communities. Research is showing that stable, quality housing has value beyond the provision of shelter; it improves school performance, diminishes health problems for children and adults, and decreases psychological stress. By illuminating the ways in which housing matters and highlighting innovative practices in the field, we hope to encourage collaboration among leaders and policymakers in housing, education, health, and economic development to help families lead healthy, successful lives. How Housing Matters is an initiative of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Learn more about The MacArthur Foundation ->How Housing Matters | The MacArthur Foundation
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