December 6, 2012
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Report: Housing market strength is fueling the recovery
Housing has surpassed business investment and exports to become the "leading source of strength" in the economic recovery, according to a UCLA report. That marks a change from the past three years, when housing was a lagging component of the economy.  Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (12/5)
U.S. housing market defies predicted foreclosure glut
Two years ago, many experts warned that the housing market would suffer a prolonged downturn as a result of the government's investigation into banks' foreclosure practices. They predicted an eventual flood of houses for sale once the investigation ended and banks began foreclosing again. Months after a settlement was finalized, however, the housing market is strengthening, reports show.  Bloomberg Businessweek (11/29)
Trends in Housing
Cities work to keep young professionals as they become parents
Young professionals have been a major force behind the renaissance of many urban areas in the U.S. As many in the millennial generation begin to have children, however, some are questioning whether cities still offer the amenities they need. Cities that don't improve their schools, transit systems and parks and provide family-oriented housing risk losing residents to the suburbs, experts say.  USA Today (12/3)
Home sales involve fewer first-time buyers
First-time buyers represented about 35% of home sales in October, according to the latest monthly Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey. That's the lowest percentage since the survey began in September 2009. Reasons for the decline include rising prices, financing challenges and fewer opportunities to buy distressed properties.  Bloomberg Businessweek (11/28)
Reports, policies tout benefits of walkable neighborhoods
The economic and social benefits of walkable neighborhoods are the subject of two recent reports, one focusing on Philadelphia-area home prices and one on demand for real estate in Washington, D.C. Another recent win for advocates of walkable neighborhoods is a new set of incentives in Massachusetts encouraging more compact development, writes Governing editor Tod Newcombe. (12/3)
Policy Roundup
Fannie, Freddie reform likely to be a top issue for House committee
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a conservative from Texas, and Rep. Maxine Waters, a California liberal, both feel strongly about Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's roles in mortgage lending. So reform is expected to be a priority when the two House Financial Services Committee leaders begin work next year.  Reuters (11/29)
Quarter of taxpayers claim mortgage-interest deduction
Placing limits on the U.S. mortgage-interest deduction, an idea raised in the debate over how to cut the budget deficit, would have consequences for relatively few homeowners, according to government data. The Internal Revenue Service said 25% of people filing tax returns claim it.  USA Today (12/5)
FHA will sell more delinquent home loans in 2013
The Federal Housing Administration plans to continue its strategy of selling delinquent home loans to investors in the coming year. The sales are meant to help stabilize FHA finances and open the door to more aggressive modifications than the federal agency could offer, officials say. This fall, the FHA sold more than 9,400 delinquent home loans to investors and nonprofits, and it plans to sell 40,000 more in 2013.  The Wall Street Journal/Developments blog (12/3)
Location, Location, Location
Tiny-house movement takes root in D.C. neighborhood
In northeast Washington, D.C., a group called Boneyard Studios is building tiny homes -- 150 to 200 square feet -- in an urban alleyway to demonstrate what it hopes will become a trend in affordable housing. The idea is to connect compact, low-cost homes to urban neighborhoods. "We want to inspire thinking about this as a possibility in the District," said Brian Levy, one of the group's founding members.  The Washington Post (11/27)
Other News
About My Generation
Retirees seek to hedge on health care costs by remodeling homes
Some seniors who want to avoid the average $3,200 monthly cost of an assisted-living facility are investing money now to make their homes more accommodating. Changes include installing grab bars in bathrooms, adding nonslip floors, and making electrical outlets and light switches more wheelchair accessible. "We avoided nursing homes for our parents, and we want it to be the same for our kids," said Richard Hayman, who is spending $110,000 to transform his Maryland home.  Bloomberg Businessweek (11/29)
Education and Housing
Commentary: Study finds housing aid doesn't improve school access
Families receiving federal housing assistance tend to live near low-performing elementary schools, even though they can choose where they live, finds a study by the Poverty and Race Research Action Council. Families in less racially segregated areas are more likely to live near good schools, the study found. "Given that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development spends $18 billion a year on housing choice vouchers, policymakers, as well as all Americans, should be concerned about these findings," writes Philip Tegeler, the council's executive director.  The Huffington Post (12/4)
Opportunity and Housing
Editorial: Congress should support housing programs
At a time when more Americans need help with housing costs, Congress has been reducing funding for federal housing programs. Lawmakers and the Obama administration need to help these programs and consider new initiatives to aid those who are struggling with unaffordable housing costs, The New York Times writes in an editorial. "These families skimp on food and medical care to make the rent and tend to move often, making it difficult for their children to be successful at school," the editorial says. "They are also more prone to homelessness, which is traumatic for them and extremely costly for the municipalities that run shelters."  The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (12/4)
Learn more about The MacArthur Foundation ->How Housing Matters | The MacArthur Foundation
About How Housing Matters
The How Housing Matters research initiative seeks to demonstrate 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.
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