Obama outlines new push for U.S. housing industry

Aug. 6, 2013 at 5:01 PM
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PHOENIX, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- The housing industry was ready for another push although with precautions to keep unqualified buyers out of the market, President Obama said Tuesday in Arizona.

Obama said home ownership was one of the cornerstones of a solid middle class and outlined a strategy to make it easier for people to purchase a place of their own but with more safeguards against real estate bubbles like the one that derailed the entire industry a few years ago.

"Above all, we have to turn the page on the bubble-and-bust mentality that created this mess, and build a housing system that's durable and fair and rewards responsibility for generations to come," Obama said in remarks at Desert Vista High School in the Phoenix suburb of Ahwatukee.

Obama said the industry had regained its footing since the recession, which he blamed to a large degree on overly ambitious speculation and lending practices as well as buyers who knowingly committed to more house than they could afford.

The president called his proposals a mix of new ideas and others that had died in Congress. They included the "winding down" of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a stronger presence of private capital in the mortgage market, and firming up the relatively simple basic 30-year mortgage to help inexperienced buyers with their decision-making.

"I believe that while our housing system must have a limited government role, private lending should be the backbone of the housing market, including community-based lenders who view their borrowers not as a number, but as a neighbor," Obama said.

Obama also urged more of an emphasis in building affordable rental housing as an option for folks without the resources or desire to buy a home. He also proposed an emphasis on renovating and replacing run-down housing in mature neighborhoods .

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