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Obama’s mortgage lottery
Who wins and loses in the $275 million mortgage rescue?
P

resident Obama rolled out his mortgage rescue plan Wednesday, said Michael McAuliff in the New York Daily News, and “it ain’t gonna be easy” to qualify. To become one of the lucky 9 million struggling homeowners to have their mortgage refinanced at a lower rate, you need to reside in the at-risk house, be current on your payments, and have a loan held or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

That’s great for those 9 million homeowners, said Joshua Zumbrun and Maurna Desmond in Forbes.com, but “what about the other 103 million” U.S. households “footing the bill”? Jumbo-mortgage holders, speculators, and people who took out “liar loans” are out of luck, but so are the 37 million households that rent—they “can’t be too happy about subsidizing belly-up borrowers,” or about paying to stop home prices from falling to “affordable levels.”

We seem to be nearing the historical stabilization point for home prices already, said Irwin Kellner in MarketWatch, with today’s median selling price at 2.9 times median household incomes. And Obama’s plan should help homebuyers, not just struggling homeowners, by lowering interest rates even further, “making conventional mortgage loans more available” for people waiting to jump in the market.

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