The president of the United States, Barack Obama, walks outside the White House in Washington. Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS
The US real estate market is experiencing a situation similar to that of Spain. Their real estate bubble burst and families now pay huge mortgages, because they owe the bank more than their homes are worth . And as in Spain the evictions have increased in geometric progression.
Because of that vertiginous decrease in the price of housing in recent years, more than 10 million owners (one in four) now owe the bank more money than the value of the house they bought in their day. It has been recognized by the president of the United States, Barack Obama.
He did so by presenting a plan to revitalize the real estate market that will allow millions of homeowners to refinance their mortgages and take advantage of historically low interest rates.
Many families have had to resort to the help of public programs to avoid losing their home, but until now these initiatives have been unable to cope with the magnitude of the problem. The plan presented seeks to benefit, according to the White House, 3.5 of the 10 million owners who owe more than their home is worth.
It also proposes greater leniency with the owners who are unemployed. Those “responsible” owners who are up to date in the payment of their mortgages can refinance them with loans at lower interest rates and guaranteed by the federal government, which will mean an average annual saving of about $ 3,000.
In addition to the refinancing of mortgages, Obama’s new plan includes more protection to prevent “inappropriate” evictions, the sale of properties seized by government agencies for private investors to place later on rent, and greater leniency with owners who are unemployed.
“Banks and lenders must be responsible for putting an end to the practices that helped cause the crisis,” Obama said today, urging Congress to approve this plan, whose estimated cost is between 5,000 and 10,000 million . Dollars.
The second Obama plan that tries
The president proposes that the financing comes from the creation of a tax on the big banks and financial institutions, which complicates the plan being approved by Congress , where the Republican opposition controls the House of Representatives.
A similar plan in 2009 barely managed to restructure 900,000 mortgages The new initiative aims to be a complement to the Affordable Housing Modification Program (HAMP), which has just been extended until 2013, one more year than planned, to broaden the base of the participants .
Launched in 2009, the HAMP aimed to change the financial conditions of almost 4 million mortgages and avoid further evictions, but the government has acknowledged that it has barely helped to restructure 900,000 so far .
A help, but in exchange for what
Mercedes Salas, an economist and advisor to the program of over-indebtedness to families of the World Bank of Women, believes that low-interest refinancing is good news: “It’s fabulous but you have to see in exchange for what low interest rates and letters will be given. small: If it is in exchange for more guarantees, extending deadlines … “.
The banks in Europe are injected with money they are not asked for, so it seems unthinkable that I can spend here
As to whether these measures would be possible in Spain, Salas is quite incredulous: “Banks in Europe are injected with money they are not asked for, so it seems unthinkable that they request taxes from large financial institutions in order to lower interest rates. to the mortgaged “. Hence, the economist also sees with difficulty that Obama can receive the support of Congress to approve this initiative.
Salas also believes that if, in the event that Spain lowers the interest on the mortgaged, the real problem could persist, since the interests are not the disadvantage for the over-indebted families, but the high price at which they acquired their homes: ” In Spain there is no problem of interest, the problem is the quantity itself, “he concludes.