What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell us

Congress: Make the mortgage easier

Stacey Vanek Smith Feb 14, 2008
HTML EMBED:
COPY
A mortgage application iStockPhoto

Congress: Make the mortgage easier

Stacey Vanek Smith Feb 14, 2008
A mortgage application iStockPhoto
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Every day, it seems, there’s another solution to the housing crisis coming out of Washington. Today, Congress looks at a couple of mortgage bankruptcy bills. But do all these little pieces really add up to a full answer? Here’s Stacey Vanek-Smith.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: Uncle Sam wants you to be able to make your mortgage payment. In December, the Treasury Department called for lenders to freeze interest rates.

Earlier this week, the Bush Administration unveiled the Lifeline program to help people refinance loans. And now, Congress is looking at legislation that would change bankruptcy regulations to make it easier for people to hold onto their homes.

Chris Mayer: I think the gestures are well intentioned, but I think they’re not likely to do a lot to help the vast majority of homeowners.

Columbia Business School’s Chris Mayer says the government is focusing on keeping people in their homes, and that won’t help the people in the most trouble. He says in places like Las Vegas, home values are expected to drop by more than 20 percent, and it just doesn’t make sense for those people to pay down their loans.

But, he says, Congress can help:

Mayer: I think the government needs to try and find ways to create a sustainable mortgage market going forward.

Mayer says that will keep the credit market afloat and help people whose credit is ruined by foreclosure get loans in the future.

I’m Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.