January 4, 2015

YOU KNOW POVERTY IS OVER...:

New home loan helps lower-income borrowers build equity quickly (E. SCOTT RECKARD, 1/04/15, LA Times)

Grace and Armando Ong were among millions of Americans who lost their homes during the housing crisis.

Today, the Azusa couple are in the vanguard of borrowers taking advantage of a new loan that helps lower-income borrowers build equity fast -- and protects them against any future crash in values.

All with no down payment, no closing costs and no mortgage insurance. The Ongs' real estate agent, Jill Medley, called it "the best loan in the history of real estate."

The key feature of the so-called wealth-building home loan is a sharply reduced interest rate on a 15-year term. Instead of requiring a down payment, banks allow borrowers to use their money to pay interest upfront, often called "buying down" the rate.

For their $400,000 house, the Ongs used what would have been a 4% down payment -- $16,000 -- to instead buy down their rate to 0.5%. In little more than three years of monthly payments, the couple will have more than 20% equity in the home, assuming the property value stays the same.

That more than doubles the equity they would build with the same amount down on a 30-year Federal Housing Administration loan at the going rate of 3.25%. [...]

The loan was unveiled in September by Edward J. Pinto and UCLA researcher Stephen D. Oliner, resident fellows at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute. A key liberal housing advocate, Bruce Marks of the Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, or NACA, joined with them to promote the loan.

...when lower-income houses are $400k.



MORE:
Solved, Why Poor States Are Red and Rich States Are Blue (Tim Worstall, 1/03/15, Forbes)

If we measure by consumption patterns then it's the blue states that are poor, the red states that are rich:

Blue states, like California, New York and Illinois, whose economies turn on finance, trade and knowledge, are generally richer than red states. But red states, like Texas, Georgia and Utah, have done a better job over all of offering a higher standard of living relative to housing costs. That basic economic fact not only helps explain why the nation's electoral map got so much redder in the November midterm elections, but also why America's prosperity is in jeopardy.

Red state economies based on energy extraction, agriculture and suburban sprawl may have lower wages, higher poverty rates and lower levels of education on average than those of blue states -- but their residents also benefit from much lower costs of living. For a middle-class person , the American dream of a big house with a backyard and a couple of cars is much more achievable in low-tax Arizona than in deep-blue Massachusetts. As Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia TRLA -2.3%, recently noted, housing costs almost twice as much in deep-blue markets ($227 per square foot) than in red markets ($119).

That particular piece then goes on to chunter away about how appalling it is that people aren't willing to vote for more blue state type of policies and how this will be the end of America. However, the really interesting part of it is that part quoted above. For it speaks to something that economists just keep trying to point out to people. Yes, sure, income inequality might be important in a way, wealth inequality should have a place in our thoughts. But what really matters to people about how life is lived is consumption. Levels of consumption and also consumption inequality. That last is important in a political sense currently because consumption inequality just hasn't widened out as much as income and wealth inequality have. And levels of consumption: well, that's really what income or wealth is, the ability to purchase consumption. And if you're in a place where prices are lower, leading to greater consumption (whether of food, or square feet of housing, or leisure, or whatever), well, then you're richer, aren't you?

And thus is our conundrum solved. The red states aren't in fact poorer than the blue states. They're richer: that's why they vote more conservative and more right wing.

Posted by at January 4, 2015 11:37 AM
  

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