Two NY Times columnists offer food for thought

Ron Lieber (New York Times photo by Earl Wilson)

Saturday’s New York Times contained two rather provocative columns about housing, one of which surprised me by suggesting that buying now would not be a bad idea for some consumers.

If you haven’t been following my blog, you would expect me to unabashedly trumpet Joe Lieber’s stance in his piece, “In Defense of Home Ownership.” In fact, I do largely agree with him, but I have reservations that he doesn’t express. Continue reading

Maybe tax benefits of homeownership should end

Abolishing the mortgage-interest deduction would replenish the nation's coffers. (Flickr photo by hto2008)

If anything I have posted so far hasn’t made me a pariah among my professional peers, this piece may well do that.

A column I read in the New York Times on Saturday got me thinking, again, about the question of U.S. government policy of supporting home ownership (which has fallen a couple of points to around 67 percent since the housing bust) by allow a tax deduction for mortgage interest.

In his provocative article, Joe Nocera quotes several economists and questions the policy.  Why does the policy represent a cow so sacred that it cannot be slaughtered, not even touched?

That cow, of course, is that that home ownership fulfills the American dream. To my mind, heretical as it may be for a real estate broker to ask, hasn’t the time come to send that old cow to pasture? Continue reading