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Candidates Face Contests in States With Steep Home Values: Report

Ahead of the primary in South Carolina Saturday, Republican presidential hopefuls will compete for the chance for a face off with President Barack Obama ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a contest remarkably lacking in housing proposals for one that will take place in 15 battleground states with slipshod home values.

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The ""Progressive Policy Institute"":http://progressivepolicy.org/ (PPI) issued a ""policy brief"":http://progressivepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/1.2012-Gold_Kim_Underwater-Home-Values-in-2012-Battleground-States.pdf Friday that said home values have fallen by 16 percent since October 2008, and that ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô despite a correspondingly steep drop in household wealth ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô few voters should expect candidates from either party to address housing finance reform in the election.

Which states suffered loss in their home values more than others? Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others.

Even while candidates would likely trumpet their job and economic plans, the report said, more needed to address a hole in household wealth left over from the financial crisis.

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PPI analysts Jason Gold and Anne Kim cited a ""Federal Reserve"":http://www.federalreserve.gov/ survey that found declines in household wealth from 2007 to 2009, with shortfalls in home equity primarily responsible for shortfalls in wealth.

The two found that homes still comprised 47.6 percent of total non-financial assets for Americans in 2009, with 12 million of these currently carrying underwater mortgages and owing more on their homes than their homes are worth.

Gold and Kim said that a loss of equity in many homes prevents underwater mortgagees from refinancing their homes, even in an environment in which recent modifications to the Home Affordable Refinance Program offer many Americans attractive opportunities for lower interest rates.

""A 1% lower interest rate on a $200,000 mortgage can men $168 less in interest rates per month ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô money that could be spent in the broader economy on other things,"" the two wrote.

And how should national candidates seeking the Oval Office address homeowners' concerns in a tough political climate?

Gold and Kim offered up several recommendations, calling on policymakers to ""resist the temptation to succumb to an election-year ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôeasy fix.'""

They dispelled any illusion that any ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£big questions on the table for housing can├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ót be resolved in an election year├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô namely, federal conservatorship for ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/.

The analysts also said that presidential candidates should avoid placing ""too much of the burden for fixing housing on either ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôbig banks' on the one hand or ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôirresponsible homeowners' on the other.""

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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