Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Is It My Turn Yet?

NAR wants us all to beg congress for an extension to the first time home-buyer's tax credit. That sounds good to me, but I wanted to punch up the text a little bit. Here's my version of the letter.
Dear ________,
I am writing to express my strong support for Congress to extend the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit through 2010.

Throughout this financial crisis, there has been one consistent, clear, and very American policy: if you did something really stupid in the last decade, whether it involved making non-competitive cars that no one wants or designing financial instruments that would lose most of their value while paying hefty bonuses to bankers, congress will bail you out, and the tax payer will fund it. Should housing be any different?

Reports show that home sales to first-time homebuyers increased by 25% in 2009 and now account for 50% of all sales. In addition, the tax credit is reducing the inventory of foreclosures that are sitting on the market, helping our neighborhoods and communities recover. Like the big banks, us home buyers did some really, really dumb things over the last few years, and this government-provided bail-out is helping us "recover" from our mistakes by making future, similar mistakes cheaper.

While I believe the market has improved, I do not think it has fully corrected itself. In order for that to happen, we will have to reach similar levels of bad lending policies (NINJA anyone?) and delusional optimism that housing prices only go up. While this level of psychotic optimism has been hard to find in today's difficult economy, the best way to assure continued housing activity is to extend and expand the credit and to do that NOW. Nothing says "do whatever you want, we'll pay for your mistakes" quite like a government back-stop on bad investments.

We can't wait until late in the year to see what happens. It might turn out that houses aren't worth as much as we paid for them in 2006.
Now where's the bail-out for grumpy-coffee-drinking-work-at-home-computer-programmers-whose-pets-are-running-around-the-house-like-animals?

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