Friday Five: Housing in Spotlight This Week at Washington Monument

Can one man help solve the foreclosure crisis? Plus, a home ownership rally in D.C., and Obama urges Congress to find refinancing options for more Americans.

In this week’s news roundup, we take a closer look at the factors that are hurting housing and the rally that challenges Capitol Hill to do no harm to the struggling real estate market. With the deadline for the national flood insurance program reauthorization looming, two Senators debate a solution. Meanwhile, President Obama continues pressure on Congress to increase refinancing options for all Americans. This and more in this week’s Friday Five.

Bloomberg Business Week: Fed’s Duke Says Regulatory Uncertainty Hurting Housing

In Washington recently, Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke noted that job gains, mortgage rates close to all-time lows, falling inventories of unsold homes, and cheaper properties are underpinning residential real estate, which has struggled to recover as the availability and terms of mortgage loans has remained tight six years after home prices began their decline. Also restraining the recovery in housing by helping to choke off credit: the unresolved status of government-sponsored mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

REALTORS® Take Case for Home Ownership to Capitol Hill

At the Rally to Protect the American Dream, REALTORS® from around the country joined Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to demonstrate their commitment to preserving access to home ownership and robust real estate investment. REALTORS® are asking Congress for better access to affordable financing, reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and to preserve the mortgage interest deduction.

The Hill: Reid, Coburn Suggest Agreement on Moving Flood Insurance Extension Bill Forward

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asked for unanimous consent on S. 2344, which extends the current National Flood Insurance Program through the end of 2012. But Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) objected, saying if an extension does happen, there needs to be reforms to the program. Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives is set to vote on H.R. 5740, the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act, which extends the program through June. The House bill includes a number of reforms. The Senate extension doesn’t call for reforms to the program. Obama Presses Congress to Ease Way for Millions of Home Owners to Refinance

“The pool of folks who can refinance right now, when their homes are underwater, is still too small,” President Obama said recently in Reno. To expand refi opportunities, Congress has to move, he said. Three bills have been introduced in Congress that would make refinancing available to more home owners.

Huffington Post:
America’s Top Housing Official Must Aid Struggling Home Owners

If one man can be described as absolutely key to solving the ongoing foreclosure crisis — thus not only helping millions of struggling home owners, but also stabilizing the neighborhoods where they live — it’s Edward DeMarco, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The biggest chunk of troubled loans are backed by government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are overseen by DeMarco’s FHFA. Thus far, DeMarco has refused to involve Fannie and Freddie in reducing principal for underwater home owners, which some say would prevent more people from spiraling into foreclosure.