Friday Five: Obama’s Refi Proposal, Florida Primary Gives Needed Traction

The State of the Union address and the upcoming Florida GOP primary are bringing new and much-needed attention to housing issues.

President Barack Obama’s proposal for enhanced refinancing efforts sparked a new dialogue among members of Congress and the media after the State of the Union Tuesday. Issues like the size of down payments, principal write downs, and how to take advantage of low interest rates are suddenly gaining traction among lawmakers. Even the GOP candidates for president are having to face the housing crisis as they campaign in Florida, a state hard hit by foreclosures.

Associated Press: After Obama Speech, Three Arguments for Housing

President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union speech that he wanted to help struggling home owners refinance their mortgages. The Republicans who want his job say the government should get out of the way of the housing market. But some experts advocate something much bolder to provide relief to the 11 million home owners in the United States who owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth.

MSNBC Bottom Line: Home Buying Could Soon Beat Renting

Falling home prices have sent many would-be buyers to the sidelines. If all goes well, record low interest rates and rising rents may soon prompt some of them to take a second look at buying.

New York Times (Bucks): Big Down Payments Could Bar Creditworthy Borrowers From Market, Study Finds

Requiring a minimum down payment of 20%, or even 10%, on home loans would push many creditworthy borrowers into higher-cost loans or out of the mortgage market entirely, a new study says.

HouseLogic: Finally Some Talk on Home Ownership; Will Action Follow?

It was nice to finally hear a politician talking about solving our housing market woes — the bull’s-eye in terms of economic recovery. Aiming to strike a populist chord with voters, President Barack Obama asked Congress Tuesday night during the State of the Union to pass a mass refinancing effort that would help home owners take advantage of today’s lower mortgage rates.

USA Today: Florida Primary Turns Spotlight on Housing Bust’s Fallout

As the GOP presidential contest heads to Florida, the Jan. 31 primary looms as the first in the nation where declarations by Romney and former senator Rick Santorum that housing should be allowed to bottom out will be judged by voters in markets where the housing bust has been concentrated.