Is the impending election affecting the housing market?
In fact, I believe it is — it’s been a little quiet out there. No matter which candidate you’re leaning towards we all can agree the economy and housing market needs to be addressed. How do they envision housing as a part of our economic recovery and growth in the future? Many of us own homes or dream of owning in the future. Many owners are under water or have already lost their home to foreclosure. I get many calls from desperate home owners that just don’t know what to do or where to turn for help.
As I watch the presidential debates I’m disappointed there hasn’t been more time dedicated to discussing housing market issues. The word "foreclosure" has been uttered only once during 180 minutes of combined discussion between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, as well as Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. (So far that is. I’m writing this Monday and there is the final debate tonight.)
So why haven't the candidates debated the topic? Both candidates have struggled to find a clear answer on this complicated issue and housing policy tends to be less exciting than, for instance, Iran's obsession with getting nukes or the many other International challenges taking place. These issues concern me very much, but I am also interested in topics that hit closer to home. The housing market affects people of all political persuasions, income brackets and ages all over this country.
I received a call just yesterday from a nurse that works at one of our local hospitals. She told me she needs to sell her town home but she’s underwater. She said, “This is not what I planned for. I bought my home seven years ago and got an interest-only loan. I pay my bills. I pay my taxes, but I just have to let it go.” Luckily I’ll be able to short sale her property and her credit won’t be completely destroyed. She’ll feel a great sense of relief to not have to pay that huge mortgage that doesn’t even apply towards the principle. However, it will be hard for her to secure a rental. Rental prices are increasing astronomically in this area and there is a lot of competition to even find one in your price range. The short sale will not destroy her credit, but will definitely bring her score down. I inquired where she will move and she told me luckily her parents live in the area so she will move back home. She is an independent 30-year-old, but sometimes we need to make hard choices.
I hear these types of stories every week here in Northern Virginia, and we have a strong housing market in comparison to many other areas of the United States.
So what’s the plan? People are waiting to hear. People are waiting to buy or sell homes until they have an understanding of where the housing market is headed. Yes, it’s true — the housing market is improving in the DC metropolitan area. I believe it will continue to improve yearly, but I would still like a clear understanding of what the presidential candidates plan to do. I’m sure my client the nurse is curious too.