Americans have lost $7 trillion in home equity in the past five years, and nearly 12 million homeowners are currently underwater.
The Progressive Policy Institute says these issues deserve just as much attention in the upcoming presidential election as the issue of unemployment, and in a January report, the institute offers a few suggestions to improve the housing market Ã¢â‚¬" and ultimately, the economy at large.
The first of the institute's three suggestions is one it says has already been supported by Sen. Robert Menendez
(D-New Jersey) and Richard Smith, president and CEO of Realogy.
Shared appreciation mortgages, the Institute says, ""are not only 'fair' but could actually work.""
In a shared appreciation mortgage, a homeowner receives a lower balance on his or her mortgage loan but promises to share any future appreciation when he or she eventually sells the home.
The institute's second suggestion is for congress to create a ""HomeK"" account to help potential first-time homebuyers save for a down payment.
Under the proposal, individuals could designate up to 50 percent of their existing 401(k) contributions up to $50,000 toward a down payment on a home.
Lastly, the institute urges congress and the administration to end ""regulatory uncertainty over whether a 20% down payment is required for a mortgage to be a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœqualified residential mortgage' under the Dodd-Frank Act.""
""[T]his requirement would unnecessarily stifle demand for housing and burden prospective buyers,"" states the Progressive Policy Institute.