The War on Homeownership has begun - ObamaTime Magazine weighs in.

Real Estate Agent with 1st Action Real Estate

The administration's war on home ownership has begun. The first salvo's were lobbed months ago as rumors leaked out that 'high level discussion' were being held about the value of housing. It escalated a couple weeks ago with the White House Conference on Housing, where the predominant message was the failure of housing and the inequity of benefits for the wealthy.

Yesterday it took another leap with the ObamaTime Magazine cover devoted to "Rethinking Home Ownership". The magazine didn't even make a paean to fairness with it's cover subtitle - 'Why owning a home may no longer make economic sense'. Inside the article itself laid out the case under the headline "The Case Against Homeownership" going on to state that the 'American Dream may well be a fantasy'. The first line of the article read - "Home ownership has let us down..." and went downhill from there.

The article, by a Barbara kiviat, drones on for 5 pages providing a combination of research, history and non-sequitur. It gives a historical perspective of Presidential views on the benefits of homeownership (minus our current leader) then states 'Our leaders, with our encouragement, went too far. The dark side of home ownership is now all too apparent." Whoops - that's just the first of numerous non-sequitur's where the author makes a series of generally negative statements and then fails to provide a nexus to housing. She points to a failure of leadership but lays the blame on housing. What?

A paragraph later she does it again pointing out that 'easy lending, stimulated by the cult of homeownership may have triggered the financial crisis.' The cult of homeownership? And while she references 'easy lending', again the blame lies squarely on housing - not greedy, rapacious lenders nor the hack politicians that fostered mis-directed programs like the Community Reinvestment Act - folks like Barney Frank and Maxine Waters, who are nowhere mentioned in this article. 

In fact while she is able to blame homeowners for a variety of societal ills including lack of mobility, inflexibility, being security conscious, wanting a safe place to raise families, freezing low income rentals out of upper end neighborhoods and the like, she does not once mention the administration policies that brought us to our current position. In addition to this glaring omission of government culpability, she completely glosses over the complicity of Wall Street, not even mentioned in the article, nor the rampant fraud and fiscal impropriety that exacerbated the problem.

No, in her simplistic, administration-centric view, all these ills were not the cause of the housing crisis but rather were caused by housing itself - as if housing were a malevolent entity that, rather than being the American Dream, was hell-bent on destroying the American Dream. Of course she raises the flag of inequity raise by Mark Zandi at the housing conference a couple weeks back that government subsidies like the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains benefits are primarily enjoyed by the wealthy while poor and middle class homeowners have to be content with just a safe and secure place to raise their families. 

She also spends a few pages discussing the merits of renting rather than  owning, pointing out cities with a supposed advantage engendered by having higher percentages of their citizens as renters - San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles are outstanding on her list because they are high rental/high output cities. Likewise the Swiss are held up as icons because they have the highest income as a percent of their GDP yet only 34.6% of their population are homeowners. On the same circular chart that supposedly has some relevance, the Spanish have the lowest per capita income yet have an 89.1% home ownership rate. The US lies somewhere in the middle of that chart between Japan and Australia. I'm sure the chart makes sense to someone for some reason depending on your agenda. Notably absent from the list are other socialist countries. Apparently the author sees no use in tipping her hand quite that far by noting that the ultimate in rental-centric societies are also the lowest per capita income generators. Noooo, that equation don't work. 

Well, I cease to be amazed at the slant or tenor of any article contained in most of today's media, especially in ObamaTime. I mean the same issue carries a glowing article on how the $787 Billion stimulus package has been such a success (?) and how it is 'quietly changing the way America works, moves and innovates. They apparently don't see the irony in that headline as more Americans are out of work, moving out of their homes and that innovation has been outsourced off-shore. 

Just be aware, the battle against housing has begun. I'm not sure of the goal, but if the battle is waged as successfully as the war for healthcare reform, financial reform, corporate bail-out's and takeovers, you can expect significant changes. They are waging this media battle for the hearts and minds of the lowest common denominator - another aspect of their class warfare. The have's against the have-not's. This time it seeks to pit homeowners against non-homeowners and further divide upper level homeowners against lower level homeowners. It is insidious in nature and has proven a successful strategy of this administration. 

Make no mistake - Homeownership is under attack and if you don't take a stand, most of you will be out of business within the decade and the ownership of individual private proerty will become a hazy memory. 

Of course that's just my opinion - I could be wrong. Hope I am. 



Re-Blogged 5 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Lenn Harley 08/31/2010 07:58 AM
  2. Karen Kruschka 08/31/2010 08:31 AM
  3. Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers 08/31/2010 09:17 AM
  4. Fran Gatti 08/31/2010 11:08 AM
  5. Jim Hale 08/31/2010 01:07 PM
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Brian Morgenweck
Power Realty Group, LLC Bergen County, NJ - Hackensack, NJ
Broker/Owner, GRI, CRS, ABR, SRS

I'm always amazed by the tender folks who seem to think that these issues & politics are mutually exclusive entities. WAKE UP is right, Gene.

Pretty soon, we'll be expected to be the meal as well as the ones who prepare it.

"Oh, I'm so sick of this type of post"... "It shouldn't be allowed on a platform like this"

What whine goes with lemming???

Aug 31, 2010 01:22 PM #45
Bruce Brockmeier
Internet Marketing Consultant to REALTORS® - Yorba Linda, CA
Coached By Crouch

The first line of the article read - "Home ownership has let us down..."

I disagree right from the start.  Home ownership has been very good for me.

I need to read the article.  I'm curious.  Does Barbara Kiviat own a home?

Aug 31, 2010 01:53 PM #46
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

Scott - if you had actually read the post and comments you would know that I am not blaming the administration for the current crisis. I am, however, blaming this adminstration for the leftward spin of the issue and using this crisis to attack housing as a root cause. That is what is absurd - or obsurd if you prefer. Pure and simple they are spending our future away and housng is a big fat target of opportunity to bring in a few billion a year - and they''re trying to sell the idea that it'll soak the rich more than the average homeowner. In the end, our business suffers, our clients suffer and the economy will continue to suffer. 

What whine goes with lemming - I love that.

Aug 31, 2010 02:32 PM #47
Gordon W. Miller
Green Mountain Real Estate - Burlington, VT

My momma told me never mud wrestle with a pig, as you both get dirty and the pig loves it.

Aug 31, 2010 02:34 PM #48
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Ownership is not in the best interest of those that wish to redistribute. 

Also, are you familar with the Trump Effect?  Basically, when investing and Trump are showing up on all of the magazines, the markets are getting ready to dive.  I think that the public negative outcry about housing might be a signal of the bottom... of course, the administration can make it slide more by screwing up the economy more...

Aug 31, 2010 02:51 PM #49
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Active rain - where are you?  I thought patent political clap-trap was not going on the feature page anymore???   This nonsense does nothing to portray AR as a professional site.  Why don't we just call it the far-right arm of the tea baggers and leave it at that.

Aug 31, 2010 03:08 PM #50
Kate Elim
Dockside Realty - Spotsylvania, VA
Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a

I was wondering the same thing.  What makes this worthy of a feature?  It is simply jumping to wrong conclusions.  One minute it is supposedly not blaming this administration and the next minute it blatantly is.


Aug 31, 2010 03:26 PM #51
Broker Nick
South Florida Real Estate & Development, Inc. - Pembroke Pines, FL
Broker Nick Relocation Broker Service

Congratulations this post is now featured in the Silent Majority Group of Active Rain.

Aug 31, 2010 03:32 PM #52
Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

Gene- We must remember that the FDR administration was jealous and stated so about Russia being able to do the "grand experiment" against the evil rich and have the government own everything. This is not far fetched thinking because when they could not get Congress to go along with their think tank- they turned to education- the great brainwashing tool of this century. You now have kids in college who don't know anything about the Iron Curtain, who think that Stalin was misunderstood, who think that Mao was a hero and who think that it is cool to wear Che tshirts and underwear as if they are ready to invite Castro to the dinner table. Do you know who stands up to these AMERICAN kids? The AMAZING immigrants that escaped the USSR and Mao's death camps. THey are the protectors of the constitution now and they cry out in class, " you know not what you ask for". Not a day goes by where I don't have a conversation with a Cuban American or a Venezuelan American about how they ran away from the very thing people here are now asking for. 

As far as homeownership goes, call me another conspiracy theorist, just make sure you let me confront you when it happens- I wonder what it is then called? 

You see, the US government is now the largest land owner and Fannie Mae is now the largest landlord.

As Realtors® you promise to uphold and defend private property rights yet so many agents just have their heads in the sand. LIke Lenn says, tenants are easier to control. Maybe some of these agents who don't agree with your take on this, should talk to Jon and ask him about tenement living in Russia! Katerina

Aug 31, 2010 03:43 PM #53
Robert Levenson

     The Time Magazine Article, which I did not read, is certainly correct at least in part by saying that 'easy lending, stimulated by the cult of homeownership may have triggered the financial crisis.'   This Blog author wrote that the Time Article's author "does not once mention the administration policies that brought us to our current position. You want her to blame Obama's stimulus package, but that was a response to one of the many problems President Obama inherited from the previous administration.  Driving around town is sometimes more of a hassle over the past months because there is quite a bit of road construction going on.  Although I have not read studies about the efficacy of the stimulus package, pretty much every time I see those orange cones and the construction guys working on the roads, I think that the stimulus package is probably helping to keep those guys working -- hopefully long enough for our other sectors of the country to kick in.

     You further write:  "In addition to this glaring omission of government culpability, she completely glosses over the complicity of Wall Street, not even mentioned in the article, nor the rampant fraud and fiscal impropriety that exacerbated the problem."

     When Ms. Kiviat writes that "easy lending" helped trigger the financial crisis, she IS referring to the fraud.  When you write that she does not "mention the administration policies that brought us to our current position" you want her to blame President Obama, but it was not President Obama's policies that brought us to our current position.  He inherited this mess from eight irresponsible and misguided years of George W. Bush.  The Time Magazine author was obviously working to focus on a different point and you, who obviously came to the table with an agenda, are upset that she did not make YOUR point, which is that you believe Obama is evil. 

     In part, we are in this crisis because financial engineering (mostly ARMs with low introductory rates coupled with low downpayments and less stringent underwriting standards) allowed less creditworthy borrowers to become homeowners.  The lenders and Wall Street made money while adding credit enhancement to the securitized loans and praying that the arrangements would last long enough to allow good old appreciation to bail us/them out.  It did not work out for many individuals and financial institutions. 

     I would venture that the arguments you attribute to Barbara Kiviat, the conspiracy you divine in her writing appears nowhere but in your delusions.  I am pretty new around here, but this certainly does not seem like the kind of off-point misguided unsubstantiated rant that Active Rain should be featuring if the goal is cogent well-reasoned substantive articles designed to be helpful to our community and our clients.

     You finish by writing that "homeownership is under attack" and that it is going to drive us out of business.  I say that by focussing on working with real estate investors who may buy multiple properties each year rather than owner occupants who may buy once every five to seven years, your income can increase rather than decrease. 

Aug 31, 2010 04:22 PM #54
Bruce Brockmeier
Internet Marketing Consultant to REALTORS® - Yorba Linda, CA
Coached By Crouch

The Time Magazine Article, which I did not read, is certainly correct at least in part by saying that 'easy lending, stimulated by the cult of homeownership may have triggered the financial crisis.'  

Good evening Robert,

You made quite a splash in the Rain.  :)

Two quick questions.  Are you an attorney?  Do you believe there is a "cult" of homeownership?

Aug 31, 2010 04:44 PM #55
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Gene, This clearly presents yet more challenges for real estate professionals to overcome. Regarding rethinking home ownership – does this mean we also need to re-think the billions of tax dollars spent on bailing out lenders … and stimulus?

Aug 31, 2010 05:14 PM #56
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Nations with large numbers of renters, and only a few landlords, are called Feudal States.  The commoners are called Serfs or Peasants.  

That is the goal of Obama and his fellow Elitists - to turn American into a Marxist / Feudal Society.

Thanks for cutting through the PC-BS and telling it like it is, Gene.

November may be America's last chance.

Aug 31, 2010 05:50 PM #57
Ron Parise - Cape Coral, FL

I stopped reading Time and Newsweek and the other weekly news magazines as well as the Wall street Journal, and Washington Post when I started getting my news from the internet and the cable news stations. By the time TIME is published (at the end of a week) its nothing but old news. I suspect thats why they are moving to more provocative pieces, ie to win readers like me back

I haven't read the article, but I agree with the the title of the piece. It is time to rethink homeownership, especially if home ownership does not make economic sense. and clearly it dosen't for everybody While owning a home may make sense for some; borrowing to own a home often dosent. The question Im trying to answer for myself and my clients , is 'does the end (home ownership) justify the means (debt)"

just to add fuel to the fire, I also believe that the tax deduction for mortgage interest should come to an end. If it does that would make home ownership even less attractive.

By the to you come to identify Time with Obama? 

Aug 31, 2010 06:22 PM #58
Myrtle Beach Real Estate

Just consider the course, not just the magazines but this totally incompetent moron these fools elected as president. I can't even make myself capitalize President with him, Nancy and Harry attached.

It doesn't take a rocket scintist to know that when the real estate market does well the economy does well. Obama hasn't done anything to boost the real estate market except give away more free housing and grub to the ones who help put us in this down economy to start with.

If we used his theory in the real estate business, I would have to give every other transaction to some agent who doesn't even deserve to hold a license.

Aug 31, 2010 11:51 PM #59
Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

This is a post that gets to be featured because the essence of Gene's post is about PRIVATE OWNERSHIP RIGHTS which is a HUGE part of REAL ESTATE. HIs post is NOT partisan. What the political featured posts not being featured are ones where they are partisan and about candidates not about issues. 


Lola wrote a very good featured post about your duty as REALTORS® if you are REALTORS® and the NAR PREAMBLE . Maybe you should read it sometimes. I wrote a featured post about how you can not NOR should NOT separate real estate from politics because the very essence of the word real estate is political. 

But you know, that is the new communication method these days, when you don't like what someone says- you shut them up instead of allow them to speak. This is becoming ALL too common in our country right now. 

Don't shoot the messenger because the comment stream turned it into one side bashing the other side. 

IF you READ Gene's article- you will see that NO WHERE did he say this was the President's fault. NO WHERE. So Gregory started the bashing when he brought up red vs blue in his comment to Gene which had nothing to do with Gene's post. 

How do you even practice real estate as a business and NOT care about Private property rights? 


Sep 01, 2010 01:59 AM #60
Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

Many people in America that are generational American- which is why I am all for changing our immigration laws- which they won't ever do- the generational Americans- generally speaking- went to Public Schools where they got fed the lies, humanism, me, me, me, free lunches, everyone gets a trophy and socialism for so many years that now they are ready to wait in bread lines for hours just to get a free loaf of bread and then go home to vegetate on their couch being entertained by more propaganda. 

So what does that produce? Serfs. And who wants serfs? The elite- and believe me this is NOT just an Obama thing- this has been in the making for over 100 years. IT does not take a year to breed liberty out of people. It takes a century. Now the people are ready for a king. They want monarchy. They are ready to worship a man or a woman. This has been repeated throughout history. 

Study Russian history, study the Russian revolution. So sad that the truth of it all has been taken out of the schools. This is near and dear to me. Talk to me any time about serfdom- my family lost all their land- we were evil landowners in Latvia. We were evil rich people. Talk to me about how the breeding of anti land ownership starts. 

Study Rome and the Fall of Rome- study their politics- study what did the Senators of Rome do to keep the masses entertained while they did their corruption to the point where Rome falls. 

Sep 01, 2010 02:13 AM #61
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

I can always count on N & K for reasoned and insightful comments - just as I can count on others for the obverse.

Ron - As a 30+ year subscriber to TIME Mag, I have come to call it ObamaTIME over the past couple years as their level of objective journalism has fallen by the wayside and more often than not they are in the bag for whatever claptrap this administration spins out. As an inveterate reader, it is one of several sources I peruse to gather a broad coalition of viewpoints. Some of the commenters here should try it. There are some that come without Kool-aid. 

Once again, I will point out, for those of you like Roberty who neither read the article nor apparently my post, but felt compelled to discourse at some length anyway, I do not blame this adminstration for the housiing meltdown. But as Rahm Emanuel has stated more than once - never waste a good crisis - and that's exactly what I'm criticizing this administration for. While the housing market, how it is funded and the level of government support may indeed require some re-evaluation, I simply don't trust this administration to make the right call.

They question the 'payback' they're getting from housing and judging it not enough.What that translates to is they see it as a missed tax opportunity that would plug a small part of the massive fiscal hole they digging. Their current spin is the classic class warfare angle seeking to pit the have's against the have-nots - and even the people with regular homes against the people with bigger homes. That's wrong.

We need the government out of our business today so our market can work as intended. Instead they are entrenching themselves deeper and deeper, extending the problems through misguided and ineffectual programs. And if you don't understand how closely real estate and politics are intertwined I can't help you. As the button I carry from the California Association of Realtors states - get into politics or get out of the business.

Sep 01, 2010 05:53 AM #62
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

N & K - so many good and heartfelt points. My concern is that this nation, founded as a Republic, has become a Democracy and is heading toward a more totalitarian form of government. After all, even a democracy can only survive until 51% of the voters decide they can bleed the other 49% dry for their own benefit. That is happening today in California where voters in ever greater numbers continue to elect the representatives that feed their do nothing lifestyle. It's why we have 11% of the country's population yet 32% of it's welfare cases. And if you don't think that makes a difference in how government operates, or that it can't happen here, just re-read what N & K, or Mirela say from personal experience.

Sep 01, 2010 06:01 AM #63
Geoff ONeill
John L. Scott Medford - Medford, OR

I was not aware that anyone actually read TIME anymore.  Think I saw one in a waiting room a few years ago.

Sep 02, 2010 03:45 AM #64
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