The media has been asking for it for some time now, and the American public has been wondering if the candidates are listening. Well, Mitt Romney fired the first salvo in the discussion of how to deal with the national housing crisis Tuesday while the Democrats were busy opening their national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The problem is, as the Huffington Post pointed out that same evening, there are a lot of holes in Romney’s statement titled “Housing: Fulfillment of the American Dream” and a lack of details in how he expects to accomplish any of what it lays out. In other words, the plan is really nothing more than election year rhetoric blaming the other guy (in this case the incumbent, President Barack Obama) for the economic ills of the world as it exists today.
In it, Romney blames Obama for everything from falling home prices, to 8.5 homeowners receiving foreclosure notices, along with 11 million homeowners being upside down (underwater) on the amount they own on their mortgages. That figure roughly aligns to data compiled by RealtyTrac, which shows that since the housing crisis began in 2007 through July 2012, the 8.5 million homeowners started the foreclosure process — with 3 million of those foreclosure starts coming in 2007 and 2008, before Obama took office. Roughly half of those homeowners that have started the foreclosure process — 4.4 million — have made it all the way through the foreclosure process and lost their homes to the lenders as bank repossessions (REOs).
Being an election year, the rhetoric and lack of clarity and real solutions comes as no surprise. The bulk of the policy statement addresses what it calls “Obama’s Failure.” This, of course, is playing the game by the party’s playbook, conveniently leaving out any mention of how the administration of former president George W. Bush aided and abetted the housing crisis in the first place. (Kind of like how the Republicans conveniently forgot to invite W to the party in Tampa last week.)
But former president Bill Clinton left no doubt Wednesday night in his speech to nominate Obama for a second term in office when he told the assembly, “"No president — not me, not any of my predecessors — could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years."
Romney’s agenda portends to resolve the housing crisis by selling off the 200,000 vacant homes currently held by government agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which many politicians have said they would like to dismantle altogether.
Romney also wants to “facilitate foreclosure alternatives” but he doesn’t say how they would differ from the alternatives Obama has tried. He also wants to use “smart regulation” of banks which is probably another way of saying loosen up on the complex regulations recently put in place since the banks don’t seem to be able to police their own industry (i.e. the savings and loan bailout that started in 1989 and the subprime lending practices that gave us the first wave of foreclosures this go-around starting in 2007).
Well, one candidate has said his piece. Housing advocates and homeowners still facing foreclosure are awaiting a statement from the Obama camp. Maybe with distressed homeowners protesting outside the doors of the Democratic convention President Obama will issue a statement of his own addressing how he plans to turn around the housing crisis. Hopefully one at least that offers more solutions and less blame on the other party.
Search pre-foreclosure short sales, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank-owned homes nationwide on RealtyTrac.
Here’s some other articles from the RealtyTrac newsroom:
5 Foreclosure Swing States
Lose Your Home, Lease it Back from the Bank
Top Football Towns for Foreclosure Deals