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KNAU and Arizona News

Local Realtors Welcome Loosening of Federal Mortgage Standards

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President Obama will speak this morning in Phoenix. One topic he’s expected to cover is the federal government’s easing of some mortgage restrictions in order to boost the nation’s housing market. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, northern Arizona has seen a healthy increase in recent years in home buying.

Average home prices in Flagstaff have been on a steady rise since the market’s recent low point 2012. And the median price of a home in the city has increased by about 25 percent since.

But that still falls short of the local housing market’s peak in 2007. Brad Ryan, president of the Northern Arizona Association of Realtors, says that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“We need to remember how over-exuberant the market was from ‘04 until ‘07. And that rapid appreciation that we saw in home prices – the result of that made the recession more painful for so many homeowners that were caught up in that situation,” Ryan says.

Ryan says Flagstaff and northern Arizona suffered about a 30 percent drop in home prices during the Great Recession. But the area fared far better than Phoenix, which saw more than a 50 percent decline. That city has also seen a recent uptick in the housing market.

Ryan welcomes President Obama’s easing of federal lending rules. But he thinks it’s important to maintain a balance to avoid the potential catastrophe of another housing bubble.

“We don’t want standards that are so loose that anybody that has a pulse can get a loan. We know where that led us,” Ryan says.

According to Ryan, some federal lending programs have made first-time home buying more accessible by lessening minimum down payments. 

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