14 February 2011

Home Ownership

Two federal programs that support home ownership appear to be in question: the government backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the mortgage interest tax deduction. Both of these threaten to substantially increase the cost of home ownership. But lets look at the big picture: both of these favor home owners at the expense of those who rent. Also, these programs make bigger houses farther out from city centers and work more affordable. They enabled the almost doubling of house sizes in the past 60 years. They enabled two car families.

Perhaps we don't need to eliminate the program entirely. Houses that meet certain criteria of energy efficiency and proximity to services or mass transit could be eligible for low interest home loans backed by the government. Similarly, energy efficient upgrades could be eligible for no interest loans and 100% tax credits.

The elimination of the tax credits makes me fear that I will never be able to own again in New York. But that is personal self interest. The bigger picture is perhaps more positive.

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