President Obama’s weekly address is all about the “healing” housing market seven years after the bubble burst and how to further improve the finances of Americans and the mortgage-financing system.
As he has done for more than a year, Obama touted his proposal to expand refinancing opportunities for homeowners deeply “underwater” on their mortgage debt.
The President’s plan would essentially expand the popular HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) for borrowers whose loans are not held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the government-subsidized companies. HARP is only offered for eligible borrowers with Fannie- and Freddie-held home loans.
“As I said before, more than two million Americans have already refinanced at today’s low rates, but we can do a lot better than that,” Obama said. “I’ve called on Congress to give every responsible homeowner the chance to refinance, and with it, the opportunity to save $3,000 a year. That’s like a $3,000 tax cut.”
Obama also said his nominee to oversee Fannie and Freddie was the right choice at the right time.
Earlier this month, the President nominated House Financial Services Committee member Mel Watt, D-North Carolina, to replace Edward DeMarco as the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator of Fannie and Freddie, which own or back about 60 percent of U.S. mortgages.
“Mel’s represented the people of North Carolina in Congress for 20 years, and in that time, he helped lead efforts to put in place rules of the road that protect consumers from dishonest mortgage lenders, and give responsible Americans the chance to own their own home,” Obama said.
Here’s the text of President Obama’s address:
Our top priority as a nation is reigniting the true engine of our economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class. And few things define what it is to be middle class in America more than owning your own cornerstone of the American Dream: a home.
Today, seven years after the real estate bubble burst, triggering the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and costing millions of responsible Americans their jobs and their homes, our housing market is healing. Sales are up. Foreclosures are down. Construction is expanding. And thanks to rising home prices over the past year, 1.7 million more families have been able to come up for air, because they’re no longer underwater on their mortgages.
From the day I took office, I’ve made it a priority to help responsible homeowners and prevent the kind of recklessness that helped cause this crisis in the first place.
My housing plan has already helped more than two million people refinance their mortgages, and they’re saving an average of $3000 per year.
My new consumer watchdog agency is moving forward on protections like a simpler, shorter mortgage form that will help to keep hard-working families from getting ripped off.
But we’ve got more work to do. We’ve got more responsible homeowners to help – folks who have never missed a mortgage payment, but aren’t allowed to refinance; working families who have done everything right, but still owe more on their homes than they’re worth.
Last week, I nominated a man named Mel Watt to take on these challenges as the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Mel’s represented the people of North Carolina in Congress for 20 years, and in that time, he helped lead efforts to put in place rules of the road that protect consumers from dishonest mortgage lenders, and give responsible Americans the chance to own their own home. He’s the right person for the job, and that’s why Congress should do its job, and confirm him without delay.
And they shouldn’t stop there. As I said before, more than two million Americans have already refinanced at today’s low rates, but we can do a lot better than that. I’ve called on Congress to give every responsible homeowner the chance to refinance, and with it, the opportunity to save $3,000 a year. That’s like a $3,000 tax cut. And if you’re one of the millions of Americans who could take advantage of that, you should ask your representative in Congress why they won’t act on it.
Our economy and our housing market are poised for progress – but we could do so much more if we work together. More good jobs. Greater security for middle-class families. A sense that your hard work is rewarded. That’s what I’m fighting for – and that’s what I’m going to keep fighting for as long as I hold this office.