David Dayen makes some very good observations about the ongoing debate of what’s happening in the housing market, noting that we should not just be having a conversation about housing prices, but the market and its impacts on whole.
But ultimately, all of these are issues about housing prices. They are not issues about the housing market as a whole, and its relative health. Should we be OK with the fact that institutional investors like hedge funds are becoming absentee slumlords all over the country? Should we be OK that banks are holding these properties for years, waiting for the moment to dump them on the market, leading to blight in communities, disrepair, lowered home values for the neighbors, and a mark-to-myth accounting, where the bank never has to take the actual loss on the loan? Should we be OK that large states and regions are subjected to these practices, and as a result will see their economies recover far more slowly than the rest of the country? Should we be OK with low housing starts and diminished construction jobs? Should we be OK with current policy, letting housing hit bottom and clear, with years of suffering going unaided?
We shouldn’t just focus on prices in this housing recovery debate, in other words. We should look at what kind of housing market we have in the aftermath, and whether it works for the country.