Housing patterns and values have changed over the decades, adapting to workforce trends, infrastructure investments and cultural norms. The latest changes include a rethinking of renting versus owning and an emphasis on walkable communities, and future evolution is likely but difficult to predict, writes Robert Shiller, economics professor at Yale University. "The outlook is so ambiguous that there is no single answer to the question of housing's potential as a long-term investment," he writes.
The Housing Partnership Equity Trust, a real estate investment trust owned by nonprofit groups and focused on preserving affordable housing, has closed on its first property acquisition. The REIT plans to purchase apartments nationwide, focusing on areas where rising real estate values have led landlords to cater to middle-class or wealthy renters. So far, the REIT has raised more than $100 million, and it has received funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Representatives of the securities industry are in California and Nevada this week in an effort to quash plans to use eminent domain authority to seize mortgages. Industry experts are raising several concerns about the plans, which call for taking loans out of private-label securities trusts and reselling them to the Federal Housing Administration or other agencies so they can be refinanced.
A group of tenants is suing the New York City Housing Authority over the slow pace of repairs, citing leaks, mold and holes in walls that allow roaches to crawl through. Separately, the Natural Resources Defense Council says it is preparing a lawsuit on behalf of tenants with asthma, citing rampant mold problems and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
President Barack Obama has nominated Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt supports reducing struggling homeowners' principal balances and decreasing the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the housing finance market.