REFinBlog

Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

July 30, 2015

Airbnb in NYC

By David Reiss

Airbnb latte

New York Communities for Change/Real Affordability for All have issued a housing report, Airbnb in NYC. This is an advocacy piece that raises important questions about how Airbnb is changing the nature of housing markets in a hot destinations. The report states that

A new independent analysis of Airbnb’s website by www.InsideAirbnb.com shows that nearly 16,000 or just under 60% of Airbnb listings are entire homes or apartments for rent (in violation of state law and/or NYC zoning laws), and that they are available for rent an average of 247 days a year. To put that in perspective, those 16,000 Airbnb listings that are not available for everyday New Yorkers would be the equivalent of a loss of approximately one full year of Mayor de Blasio’s ten-year plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units, negating nearly all of the affordable apartments the administration has financed in the past year.

Despite Airbnb’s claims that the nearly 90 percent of their listings are from regular New Yorkers renting out spare rooms to make extra cash, the InsideAirbnb.com data show that nearly one-third of Airbnb listings come from hosts with multiple units, such as commercial landlords. (3)

While Airbnb has criticized the methodology of this report, it does appear to undercut Airbnb’s characterization of its hosts.

Opponents of the sharing economy will find a lot in this report that confirms their concerns. For instance, in the top 20 Airbnb zip codes in NYC, “housing units are rented on Airbnb for rates equivalent to more than 300% of the neighborhood’s average rent.” (5)

But supporters of the sharing economy will also find much to confirm their own views: “In 20 different zip codes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, entire/home/apartment Airbnb listings comprise at least 10% of total rentals.” (5) Supporters will say that the people have spoken with their pocketbooks — the sharing economy is here to stay, notwithstanding what the law says.

The sharing economy continues to shake up the old economy. The fact that so many Airbnb listings in NYC appear to violate the law means that the controversy over its appropriate role will probably come to a head sooner rather than later. The outcome of that controversy will then spill over and permeate the hottest residential neighborhoods in the hottest cities in the U.S.

July 30, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

Thursday’s Advocacy & Think-Tank Round-Up

By Serenna McCloud

  • Enterprise Community Partner’s and other affordable housing advocates have launched #CapsHurtCommunities, a campaign to raise spending caps imposed and restore critical funding. They are urging organizations and concerned citizens to reach out to Congress while the members on recess – asking them to support tax extenders legislation and fully fund affordable housing. The Summer Advocacy Tool Kit contains a variety ideas for creating awareness around the issue.
  • The Make Room Campaign’s mission is to raise awareness around the rent affordability crisis currently being played out in homes across the U.S. The Campaign has a novel approach – celebrity concerts, held on the 1st, (when the rent is due) in rent burdened living rooms.  In July, Grammy Award winning Artist Timothy Bloom held a concert in the Paterson NJ (See, NJ Factsheet) home of the five member Montgomery family, which spends more than half its income on rent and despite holding three jobs, is behind on bills and cannot afford a vehicle. Last Month’s concert was in the Los Angeles, CA (See, CA Factsheet) home of the Duartes where Carly Rae Jepson performed her hit song, “Call Me Maybe.”
  • National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index took a dip in June, after five months of increases. on the other hand, when compared to June of 2014, it reflects an 8.2% increase.

July 30, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

July 29, 2015

First-Time Homebuyers, You’re Okay

By David Reiss

Couple Looking at Home

Saty Patrabansh of the Office of Policy Analysis and Research at the Federal Housing Finance Agency has posted a working paper, The Marginal Effect of First-Time Homebuyer Status on Mortgage Default and Prepayment.

While this is a dry read, it yields a pretty important insight for first-time homebuyers: you’re okay, just the way you are! The abstract reads,

This paper examines the loan performance of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac first-time homebuyer mortgages originated from 1996 to 2012. First-time homebuyer mortgages generally perform worse than repeat homebuyer mortgages. But first-time homebuyers are younger and have lower credit scores, home equity, and income than repeat homebuyers, and therefore are comparatively less likely to withstand financial stress or take advantage of financial innovations available in the market. The distributional make-up of first-time homebuyers is different than that of repeat homebuyers in terms of many borrower, loan, and property characteristics that can be determined at the time of loan origination. Once these distributional differences are accounted for in an econometric model, there is virtually no difference between the average first-time and repeat homebuyers in their probabilities of mortgage default. Hence, the difference between the first-time and repeat homebuyer mortgage defaults can be attributed to the difference in the distributional make-up of the two groups and not to the premise that first-time homebuyers are an inherently riskier group. However, there appears to be an inherent difference in the prepayment probabilities of first-time and repeat homebuyers holding borrower, loan, and property characteristics constant. First-time homebuyers are less likely to prepay their mortgages compared to repeat homebuyers even after accounting for the distributional make-up of the two groups using information known at the time of loan origination.

So, just to be clear, being a first-time homebuyer is not inherently risky. Rather, the risks arising from transactions involving first-time homebuyers are the same as those involving repeat homebuyers:  loan characteristics, property characteristics and other borrower characteristics.

July 29, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

Wednesday’s Academic Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

July 29, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

July 28, 2015

Optimizing Mortgage Availability

By David Reiss

"Barack Obama speaks to press in Diplomatic Reception Room 2-25-09" by Pete Souza - http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/09/02/25/Overhaul/. Licensed via ttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Barack_Obama_speaks_to_press_in_Diplomatic_Reception_Room_2-25-09.jpg#/media/File:Barack_Obama_speaks_to_press_in_Diplomatic_Reception_Room_2-25-09.jpg

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report, Mortgage Reforms: Actions Needed to Help Assess Effects of New Regulations. The GAO did this study to predict the effects of the Qualified Mortgage (QM) and Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) regulations. The GAO found

Federal agency officials, market participants, and observers estimated that the qualified mortgage (QM) and qualified residential mortgage (QRM) regulations would have limited initial effects because most loans originated in recent years largely conformed with QM criteria.

  • The QM regulations, which address lenders’ responsibilities to determine a borrower’s ability to repay a loan, set forth standards that include prohibitions on risky loan features (such as interest-only or balloon payments) and limits on points and fees. Lenders that originate QM loans receive certain liability protections.
  • Securities collateralized exclusively by residential mortgages that are “qualified residential mortgages” are exempt from risk-retention requirements. The QRM regulations align the QRM definition with QM; thus, securities collateralized solely by QM loans are not subject to risk-retention requirements.

The analyses GAO reviewed estimated limited effects on the availability of mortgages for most borrowers and that any cost increases (for borrowers, lenders, and investors) would mostly stem from litigation and compliance issues. According to agency officials and observers, the QRM regulations were unlikely to have a significant initial effect on the availability or securitization of mortgages in the current market, largely because the majority of loans originated were expected to be QM loans. However, questions remain about the size and viability of the secondary market for non-QRM-backed securities.

This last bit — questions about the non-QRM-backed market — is very important.

Some consumer advocates believe that there should not be any non-QRM mortgages. I disagree. There should be some sort of market for mortgages that do not comply with the strict (and, in the main, beneficial) QRM limitations.

Some homeowners will not be eligible for a plain vanilla QM/QRM mortgage but could still handle a mortgage responsibly. The mortgage markets would not be healthy without some kind of non-QRM-backed securities market for those consumers.

So far, that non-QRM market has been very small, smaller than expected. Regulators should continue to study the effects of the new mortgage regulations to ensure that they incentivize making the socially optimal amount of non-QRM mortgage credit available to homeowners.

July 28, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

Tuesday’s Regulatory & Legislative Update

By Serenna McCloud

  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) released a final notice, The Small Buildings Risk Sharing Initiative invites private sector lenders to partner with the FHA to provide long term fixed rate capital to small building owners with mortgages of $3 – 5 million. Lending under this initiative will be limited to properties which are willing to meet affordability requirements.  The FHA will guarantee 50% of the mortgages.  The FHA is also pursing a change to Section 542(b) of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992  to allow SBRSI lenders to access capital through Ginnie Mae and to authorize securitization of the loans. In the mean time lenders can access low interest long term capital through the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank.
  • The Mayor of Seattle has released an Action Plan to address the affordability crisis in that city, where 15-20% of the population is severely rent burdened and minorities are disproportionately impacted. The Mayor’s goal is to create 50,000 units over the next 10 years.
  • The U.S. Department of the Treasury has proposed a rule which, “provides for the enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964…to that end no person in the United States shall on the grounds of race, color, or national origin be denied participation in, be denied benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance from the Department of the Treasury.”  The rule, open for comment until September 11, provides guidance to recipients and provisions for “consistent and appropriate enforcement.” The proposed ruled covers 12 programs including the Community Developments Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI).

July 28, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

July 27, 2015

Desvinculado y Desigual = Separate and Unequal

By David Reiss

"Plessy marker" by Skywriter - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plessy_marker.jpg#/media/File:Plessy_marker.jpg

Justin Steil, Jorge De la Roca and Ingrid Gould Ellen, researchers affiliated to the NYU Furman Center, have published Desvinculado y Desigual [Separate and Unequal]: Is Segregation Harmful to Latinos? The authors find that their research on this topic “suggests that segregation may have as negative effects for Latinos as it does for African Americans and that persistent Latino-white segregation is of serious concern as the nation’s metropolitan areas continue to become more diverse.” (74)

More specifically, their research finds that

segregation continues to be associated with significant reductions in educational attainment and labor market success for African Americans, and that the associations between segregation and outcomes for Latinos are at least as large as those for African Americans. For native-born African American and Latino young adults between the ages of 20 and 30, increases in metropolitan-area segregation are associated with significant reductions in the likelihood of high school and college graduation, with lower earnings and employment rates, and with an increase in single motherhood.

These findings are somewhat unanticipated given the long history of intense black-white segregation and the systematic disinvestment in black neighborhoods through much of the last century, when compared to the historically more moderate levels of Latino-white segregation. These findings raise the question of which mechanisms may be at play to generate these differences.

One crucial mechanism seems to be the levels of neighborhood human capital to which whites, Latinos, and African Americans are exposed; they are consistent with the negative associations for both blacks and Latinos and with the differences in the magnitude of the association between them. The white-Latino gap in neighborhood exposure to human capital increases dramatically as levels of segregation increase.

The significance of neighborhood levels of human capital is consistent with existing research on the effects of segregation for African Americans and for immigrants. (73, citations omitted)

This is an understudied and important topic, so it is great that the authors have begun to explore it. They identify a number of research questions that others can take up. Let’s hope some do.

July 27, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments