As the housing market and the overall economy crawl languidly toward an elusive recovery many believe will still take years to achieve, President ""Barack Obama"":http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama suggests the key to progress is a broad housing refinance plan.[IMAGE]
""[T]he housing market is beginning to tick back up but it's still not at all where it needs to be,"" the president said during a ""press conference"":http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/08/20/remarks-president-white-house-press-corps Monday.
Obama endorses a bill that would allow underwater homeowners to refinance at current interest rates, which continue to wallow near historic lows.[COLUMN_BREAK]
""We're going to be pushing Congress to see if they can pass a refinancing bill that puts $3,000 into the pockets of the average family who hasn't yet refinanced their mortgage,"" Obama stated Monday.
About 11.4 million homes are currently underwater, according to recent data from ""CoreLogic."":http://www.corelogic.com/
""A mass refinancing program would work like a potent tax cut,"" according to a recent op-ed column by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, published in the ""_New York Times._"":http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/opinion/the-one-housing-solution-left-mass-mortgage-refinancing.html
Stiglitz and Zandi suggest allowing underwater homeowners to refinance would prevent some foreclosures, which in turn would permit lenders to focus on making new loans, so that ultimately ""communities plagued by mass foreclosures might see relief from blight.""
A few senators have ""proposed bills"":http://www.themreport.com/articles/obama-administration-pushes-for-new-refinance-expansions-2012-05-11 recently to allow more homeowners to refinance their mortgages.
Meanwhile, the government's revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has helped more than 422,000 homeowners refinance in the first half of this year. In total, 1.4 million loans have been refinanced through the program since its introduction in 2009.