House Bill H.R. 1526 – Good Intent, Bad Idea

Bill Posey (R-Fla.) has introduced H.R. 1526 in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Under the proposed law, early distribution penalties would be waived on qualified retirement plans IF the funds are used to buy a house that has been in foreclosure for one year or more AND the purchaser holds the property for 2 or more years.

Posey’s concept seems to be that this would promote homeownership and stabilize neighborhoods, rather than having an investor swoop in, buy the property, and quickly “flip” the home for a profit.

I certainly love the out-of-the box thinking, but I don’t think he’s thought this all the way through.

Has Posey actually been around homeowners?  How ’bout conventional lenders?

In the world of consumer retail real estate, I have found 2 things to be true:

1. Retail homeowners are ridiculously picky in this market.  How many quality properties does he think remain listed for more than a year?  Perhaps he’s in a State where that’s true, but that’s certainly not the case in my home State.  Usually, properties that are in good, move-in condition sell within months as long as they’re priced correctly.  Only the investor grade or bottom-end properties sit for more than a year. Why? Nobody wants them because they’re junk, over-priced, or mired in endless short sale red-tape.

2. Conventional lenders hate junk properties.  Think about it –  it’s tough enough to get financing on a good property.  How is a retail homeowner going to get a loan on a property lying around for a year because it needs moderate to extensive rehabbing (which are the ones that sit around for a long time).  We all know that conventional lenders won’t lend on properties that need anything more than paint and carpet – so who’s going to lend on these properties?  Hard money lenders?  Oh, that’s right – our same government has over-regulated us out of the consumer real estate marketplace.

One other point of contention with Posey – so what if investors are “swooping in” and making a quick profit?  They’re taking the risk – they deserve the profit.  It’s called c-a-p-i-t-a-l-i-s-m.  Posey, like so many morons in Congress, fail to understand or appreciate that we investors, not them, are the engine to the housing recovery.  We put properties back to productive use and increase job creation and tax income.  We are vital to the system but, instead, are always portrayed as the villains.

Did Posy bother to read that over 35% of real estate transactions last year were cash or investor transactions?  There’s a reason for that.  Homeowners aren’t interested in grunt work.  They’re letting the investors do the hard work (short sale negotiation or rehab), then buying them when they’re in good shape and priced correctly.

I have a better solution:  Simply let anyone buy a property from his or her retirement account, regardless of the nature of the property.  Investors already do this from self-directed retirement accounts.  They buy properties from within their IRA’s and make profit tax-free or tax-deferred.  If investors can do this, why not open it up to homeowners?  Consumers would be super-excited to be able to buy their home and enjoy the appreciation tax free.  And better yet, the home would be immune from creditors because it sits in an IRA.  Now that’s a bill worth passing!

What do you all think?

Til’ next time, Jeff

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