As the year draws to a close, I usually dole out holiday wishes for those who are either directly or indirectly related to the commercial real estate industry in New York City.
However, in a year in which politics has been such a central theme, this year’s focus will take stock of how our elected officials have performed and what Santa should give them.
With few exceptions, news on the housing front has been overwhelmingly positive in recent months. In spite of weak employment trends, historically low mortgage rates and the plodding but inexorable rebalancing of supply and demand have combined to lift sales volumes, prices and perceptions of a housing recovery.
But a rising tide does not relegate housing to a lower rung on the policy ladder. As conditions improve, policymakers will be obliged to address the long-term role of government in promoting specific housing outcomes. Since the government embarked on the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac more than four years ago, the immediate goal of resuscitating the housing market has taken precedence over the larger question of how policy goals have supported—and undermined—the sustainability of the sector.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced Monday that it had completed the sell-off of its portfolio of mortgage-backed securities, purchased to buoy the housing market and access to mortgage credit during the depth of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.