Thursday, May 8, 2008

More stuff Congress could do to help housing crisis

Every politician these days is turning over every stone looking for ways to pander to the voters who are looking for help keeping the houses they can't afford. I have a few more things Congress could do to actually help the problem, if they were so inclined. I predict the likelihood of seeing any of these potentially productive changes to be nill.

- Legislate away meaningless auctions
The current trend is to "auction" properties with a hidden reserve value, which is rarely met because it's above the market price, much less the presumed discounted auction result value. Congress could easily forbid such auctions, requiring that all public real estate auctions start at the reserve price, and require property holders who put properties up for auction accept the high bid as the purchase price, always. That would pretty much end all the bogus auctions.

- Require listed sales price to factor in kickbacks
The trend when the market is going down is to mask how low properties sold for by inflating the recorded sales prices, and giving kickbacks to the buyers. A simple law making it fraudulent to not record the accurate net sales prices (liability to realtors and title companies who record sales) would fix that right up, I'd imagine.

- Require sales at listed prices
If you list a property at a price, you should agree to sell at that price or above (as opposed to rejecting qualified offers at the listed price). Again, a simple law would suffice to nip this fraudulent practice in the bud.

It is a good time for vigilance in oversight, as sellers will try to do many questionable things in the coming months/years. This is your opportunity, Congress, to step up and do something right for a change. I expect you'll squander it as usual.

No comments:

Post a Comment