Markets & Economy

Follow the mortgage money: Why 2014 should be a good year for housing

Look for Fannie and Freddie's new regulator to push for looser underwriting, down payment requirements

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Disclaimer upfront: I live and work in America’s most dysfunctional political and bureaucratic environment -- inside the Beltway, Washington, D.C. So I have to admit that my ability to make predictions is handicapped by the inherent unpredictability of the key actors here. Outcomes are often determined by deeply partisan politicians who sometimes, but rarely, decide to come together to solve tough problems, and federal regulators who see laws like Dodd-Frank as providing mere starting suggestions for the rules they ultimately write according to their own whims. Remember the original qualified residential mortgage (QRM) regulation, which as proposed would have required that lenders retain a share of the risk in mortgages made to borrowers putting less than 20 percent down? Invented out of whole cloth by bureaucrats who regulate banks. That said, here are a few fearless forecasts for 2014 and beyond. For really big housing issues like comprehensive tax reform and replacemen...