President Barack Obama yesterday put some details with a series of proposed housing "big-idea" initiatives he hopes will domino into a stronger, more sustainable economic recovery.
Obama's January Surprise—a three-pronged program that would 1) run at big-bank chicanery that contributed to the housing meltdown of the past decade; 2) funnel new funding support into supercharging refinances among home borrowers who'd been previously shut out of low, low interest rates; and 3) bring yield-hungry private investment money into taking government-owned REO off the market in cash flow–producing single-family rental housing—had a February punch line.
Whether or not any of this happens—and some of it will—the president's play will be considered his best politicking regardless of the outcome of the respective policies.
TheWall Street Journal's Nick Timiraos and Laura Meckler parsed the respective initiatives, with a special focus on the proposal that would expand the number of qualified borrowers who'd be able to refinance their home loans at a lower interest rate and put more money in their pockets on a monthly basis. This program would be underwritten via fees banks would pay.
In light of the fact that our Congress is gridlocked, and is so with impunity, the merits or deficiencies of the president's program initiatives are meaningless. The real issue is what being for them or against them exposes in terms of vote-getting in the coming months.
Taken as one, Obama's tactics have economic, academic, business, Main Street, and gadfly adherents as well as detractors, but they add up to a cohesive plan that syncs with the chief executive's aim to cast himself as a populist pugilist who'll go to the mat on principles for which he's a master at evoking a well of support.
The hoopla and drama around the moves tells us that it's a challenge for us—voters, business operators, and taxpayers—to tell the difference between policy and politics, and it's probably time to simply acknowledge that any modicum of trust that there is a difference has eroded.
What begins to be critical among leaders and leadership in the multifamily community of developers, owners, builders, investors, managers, and other partners is not to get caught up in the noise and distraction of political saber-rattling and rhetoric.
Your singular focus right now, as it has been all along, is on a value chain, and the value chain's beginning and ending is a member, resident, or client of one of your apartment communities.
I'm freshly a refugee of a business community whose No. 1 Cardinal Sin during the past decade was believing that market growth and profitability and future demand visibility substituted adequately for operational excellence, customer care, and figuring out how to do more, better, faster.
I say hello to all of you and leave you today with the simple thought that externalities are conditions we build our organizations to work through, whether they're favorable or adverse.