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Time for mortgage lending to go back to the future

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POSTED September 23, 2011 12:59 a.m.

Back to the future - that is exactly what the government needs to do.

Chats with three long-time Manteca Realtors who never bought into “free money” loans generated the following points:

•There are people right now who want to - and have the income - to buy a home.

•Lending rules have tightened up to the point they are making it next to impossible for people who would have been qualified to buy 14 years ago before things went nuts with lending guidelines to do so today.

•Qualification rules for loans are changing on almost a weekly basis.

At the same time, agents report banks taking months - if responding at all - to all cash offers.

Even so, Manteca is on pace to close escrow on more than 1,100 existing homes this year. Unfortunately, a large chunk of those are investors.

The coming tide of forecloses moving forward in the system - roughly a 70 percent-plus jump in the last month in the Northern San Joaquin Valley - now that the processing rules have been cleaned up means a flood of available homes.

The more people with the wherewithal to handle monthly mortgage payments that can easily buy, the quicker the homes will be purchased. That means ultimately the quicker America will get moving again given housing is one of the big drags on the economy.

The federal rules in place on lenders today are in response to the anything-goes days that Uncle Sam encouraged - and in some cases demand - so that anyone regardless of qualifications could buy a home. They need to be dialed back to 1998.

If not, housing will be an albatross around this nation’s collective necks until at least 2015 - and probably beyond - as some economists are now predicting.

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