Tag Archives: real estate market

Responding to Today: How to Avoid – and Fix – Costly Mistakes

Hot market or not, the agent you have representing you truly makes all of the difference in how your transaction will play out. The latest installment in our Responding To Today series addresses how to fix, or better yet avoid, mistakes that can have a serious impact on your checkbook!

Real Estate in 2021: How to Avoid – and Fix – Costly Mistakes

For those buying or selling a home in today’s ultra-competitive real estate market, time is not a luxury afforded to most. Decisions are made quickly, with many buyers in particular left to worry that they’re setting themselves up to make a costly mistake. And while homeowners seemingly have the upper hand in this universally hot sellers’ market, the myriad of factors that play a role in a frenzied sales and negotiation scenario leaves much room for error. 

So what’s a buyer or seller to do in this unprecedented market? We sat down with two leaders in the industry-Christy Budnick, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Allan Dalton, SVP of Research and Development for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices-to hear their recommendations for avoiding, or fixing, many common and current real estate missteps. 

Q: A recent Wall Street Journal article chronicles the regrets and mistakes of recent buyers who rushed into a purchase-but in this market, many buyers feel that’s the only option. How can would-be buyers feel confident that they’re buying the right house at the right price? 

Christy Budnick: Ifs normal for buyers to feel this type of stress in such a strong sellers’ market. But I would encourage them to look at the big picture and the benefits of a real estate purchase in the long term. With interest rates at historic lows, if a buyer plans on staying in a home for 10 years, the average appreciation of that home, plus the tax advantages of home ownership, will typically make the higher-than-normal sales price more than worth it. 

Allan Dalton: In a highly competitive, multioffer environment, you want to be able to buy on the best terms, but you don”! want to lose it. So as you’re figuring out what your top offer number will be, ask yourself this question: “Am I willing to deprive myself or my family of this lifestyle because of $100 a week, $50 a day, $50 a week?” I never want to be cavalier with money, but the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve never bought a home I wouldn’t have paid more for. If you’re investing in your lifestyle and you break the numbers down in that manner, it’s much easier to answer that question and understand if you actually feel like you’d be paying too much. 

Aside from the money side of things, don’t use a competitive market as an excuse not to do your due diligence. I would never buy a home without going back five or six times, parking in front of the home in the morning and also in the evening to see what traffic is like. Make sure you walk around the neighborhood and talk to the neighbors, especially the next-door neighbors if possible. If you’re buying from out of town, have your realtor do that work for you. I once bought a home from across the country and had my realtor take videos at 5:00 in the morning, 6:00 in the morning, 7:00 in the morning. That drove the realtor crazy, but the safety of my family is worth it to me. Before you make that offer, ensure there·s nothing that you could know that you don’t know-about the town, the schools, the home, the neighborhood, values, zoning restrictions. Because these are the things that end up making people think they made a mistake in buying a home. 

Q: Many sellers have been waiting to list their homes, potentially hoping to capture the apex of the market. What steps can these sellers take to avoid missing the right moment to list? 

Christy Budnick: This is such a debatable topic. The critical consideration in this decision is the relationship between supply and demand, and what can we anticipate about what might happen to supply and demand? Right now, supply and demand is completely in the favor of sellers. But what might happen to the frothy market as economic conditions change? By every indication, the strength of the economy and !he anticipation of inflation probably means that interest rates will continue to go up. Well, as rates continue to go up, fewer and fewer buyers will have the ability to afford the homes that they want to buy. As fewer buyers are in the marketplace, the relationship between supply and demand starts to level out, which will result in a cooling of home price appreciation. The summer is also a traditional time of the year where homes come on the market for sale. So you·ve got this combination of fewer buyers in the market moving forward and more homes for sale as we move forward. Those two things will most likely and I think undoubtedly create a cooling of home price appreciation. 

Allan Dalton: When the market is moving and changing so fast, it’s more valuable than ever to have a real estate agent-particularly if you are a seller in a competitive bidding war scenario. Let me give you an analogy: If you were a great football player and about to become a free agent, would you do that without the help of an agent? Of course not! When you have an asset that has great appeal and great demand, that’s when a realtor has the greatest value in maximizing that demand. It’s always better to rely on somebody who can navigate and manage and negotiate on your behalf-and create even more demand. 

Q: Some homeowners are waiting to list because they’re worried they’ll pay too much for their next home. Do you think this is a mistake or a good strategy? 

Christy Budnick: I just feel like now, 2021, is really the time to consider a sale and purchase, especially because of where I see interest rates going. Consider this: A buyer might be paying 

$30,000, $40,000 or even $50,000 more for a house today than they potentially could by waiting until next year. But wait. what are they getting for the home that they’re selling? Assuming the home you are selling is less expensive than the one you are buying, are you going to get $15,000. $20,000 or $25,000 more today than you might next year? So now I’m paying $50,000 more for the home I’m buying, but I’m earning $25,000 more for the home I’m selling, so my net differential is $25,000 negative to me. What”s the monthly payment differential? 

And if that seller takes a short-term hit to their equity-let’s say they buy at $50,000 right at the top of the market and it corrects-well, if they’re buying a home that they’re going to be in for eight, 10, 13 years, what does that appreciation annually need to look like, even if there’s a short-term blip in the value for the first one, two or three years that they own? It is so critical for people to think about these scenarios of value, payment and equity in a holistic way to make the right decision. Using a real estate professional with extensive knowledge of the local market is critical here in understanding the entire equation and its impact on your finances in the long term. 


Prepare for a Real Estate Rush This Spring

Everywhere you turn you hear real estate agents talking about the “Spring Market”, the “real estate rush”, the “Spring buyer frenzy”.  While a much larger number of people do tend to move between March and June, the hype really is just that… hype.  The 2017 Spring Real Estate Market, however, appears to be the real deal.  RISMedia tends to agree.


Homebuyers this spring will meet out-of-this-world prices and unsparing competition—a real estate rush.

According to Clear Capital’s recently released Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report, the national median days on market is 43 days, down from an 85-day stretch seen in January 2012. Days on market in Denver, Colo., Lincoln, Neb., and Raleigh, N.C., are coming in under two weeks, while days on market in Fresno, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., and Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., are finishing in under three weeks.

“Along with an increase in temperatures, the spring season also brings out the buyers and an increase in demand to the housing market, which most often translates to faster price growth and a decrease in marketing times,” says Alex Villacorta, vice president of Research and Analytics at Clear Capital. “But what’s great news for homeowners—particularly those looking to get out of negative equity or sell outright—is unfortunately bad news for prospective buyers. This springtime uptick in demand is likely to put buyers in a major time pinch in areas where marketing time is already lightning fast.”

Home price growth in the first quarter of 2017 was 0.9 percent, according to the report, with quarterly growth across regions between 0.8 percent and 1 percent. Prices grew 1.8 percent quarterly in San Antonio, Texas, making it the fastest growing metropolitan market, while quarterly prices in San Jose, Calif., remained at a standstill, posting no growth.

“This situation, coupled with the already precarious affordability situation for buyers, can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts for the market as a whole, one where buyers rush to purchase homes at or above asking price in fear of waiting too long and losing out—pushing prices up and pulling marketing times even lower,” Villacorta says. “Buyers will need to remain vigilant this spring and constantly keep their eyes peeled for new supply entering the market, and, most importantly, be wary of rushing to purchase at sky-high prices.”

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Peering into the Future of Housing: Predictions for 2017


WalletHub recently announced its 10 financial predictions for 2017, forecasting several economic to-bes in the coming year. Many have implications for housing, including:

Two Rate Hikes

WalletHub is seeing double in 2017, pegging the Federal Reserve to raise the key rate twice—a quarter point each—to bring the target rate to 1.00-1.25 percent. Interest rates, including for mortgages, will follow suit. (Case in point: credit card interest rates went up 24 basis points in the beginning of 2016, after the Fed raised the key rate 25 basis points in December 2015.)

…but Higher Home Sales

WalletHub forecasts existing-home sales to hit 6 million next year, fueled by—wait for it—rising rates.

“If interest rates rise slowly, we may see a nice bump in home sales and mortgage availability as buyers see low interest rates slowly fading and banks have higher rates to buffer against risk,” Dr. Robert Eyler, director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis at Sonoma State University, told WalletHub.

WalletHub’s estimate is more optimistic than the 5.52 million offered by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

More Time for the CFPB

WalletHub senses the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court this fall, won’t get the boot, even with the “You’re fired” administration taking office.

“[The CFPB’s] good work will be undercut by some politicians, even further than it already has been,” Jeffrey Frankel, professor at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, told WalletHub. “I hope and guess that it will not be abolished outright.”

…and for Credit Scores to Improve

WalletHub has a sunny outlook for credit scores, anticipating the average score to rise to 675 from 668 next year. The reason? Millions of homeowners will see foreclosures and short sales—black marks from the crash—drop off their credit reports, helping their case for a new mortgage.

Source: WalletHub
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty on Major Growth Trajectory

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty on Growth Trajectory Mid-Year Report 40.2% Unit Growth & 39.7% Volume Growth

2015 Year to Date vs. 2014 – Exceeding Industry Growth

RESTON, Va., Sept. 16, 2015 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty Mid-Atlantic has established a strong growth pattern for 2015 with 40.2% growth in homes sold, 39.7% in sales volume growth and 16% in new agent growth since it joined the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services network in December of 2014. In the greater D.C. and Baltimore markets the firm has grown by 175 real estate agents in the past 12 months.

Graph based from January through July data. Source: Data based on multiple listings from the following five systems: Mid-Atlantic Regional Information Systems, Central Virginia Regional MLS, Trend MLS, Sussex County MLS and Flex MLS.

Graph based from January through July data. Source: Data based on multiple listings from the following five systems: Mid-Atlantic Regional Information Systems, Central Virginia Regional MLS, Trend MLS, Sussex County MLS and Flex MLS.

According to Kevin Wiles, president of PenFed Realty Mid-Atlantic, the gains are due to increased opportunities to serve the Maryland, Virginia and Washington D. C. markets more effectively through its alignment with the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services name. “Our well respected brand reflects the company core values of trust, integrity, stability and longevity. These values are very important to all of our agents, because they know we are here for the long-term,” Wiles explained.

“The combination of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand and PenFed Realty,
which is backed by the venerable PenFed Credit Union (PenFed), creates a compelling value proposition for those selling and buying homes,” added Wiles. Along with being a wholly owned subsidiary of PenFed, a financial institution with $18 billion in assets, and having strong brand awareness, Wiles points to game changing innovative marketing solutions for its tremendous growth. “We have a Real Estate Rewards program that offers our home buyers up to $10,000 in closing cost savings. Our clients love this truly unique program,” he said.

“Moving forward we will constantly innovate, improve and invest across all areas of the company to help our agents succeed and attract new clients.”

About Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty is a full-service real estate company with annual sales volume of $2.8 billion with 1,700 sales agents and 50+ offices providing complete real estate services nationwide. PenFed Realty is a wholly owned subsidiary of PenFed Credit Union (PenFed). PenFed is a financial institution with $18 billion in assets and more than 1.3 million members. PenFed Realty is also a member of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brokerage network, operated by HSF Affiliates LLC. Visit PenFedRealty.com. Equal Opportunity Employer: m/f/v/d.

DC Metro housing supply growth continues

Hot off the presses from RBIntel…

Sales down [MRIS-wide] from July 2013; Listing Activity up


The Washington, DC Metro Area continues to have lower levels of buyer activity than in 2013.  Closed sales have now decreased from their prior year during every month in 2014, and decreased 8.4 percent from last July.  New pending contracts have had year-over-year decreases for eight consecutive months.  In July, new pending contracts fell 4.8 percent, with decreases in each property segment.   Despite the lower buyer activity relative to 2013, closed sales and new pending contracts continue to be higher than in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  The median sales price increased modestly from last year, rising 0.7 percent.  This increase was driven by townhomes and condo properties, with condos reaching their highest July-level since 2007, and townhomes reaching their highest level on record, with data starting in 1997.

Inventory continues to rise and active listings reached their highest level of any month since November 2011.  However, the number of homes for sale remains low, at just 43.2 percent of its peak-level.  New listings continue to rise, and have now increased from the prior year for five consecutive months.

Click here to view PDF version of this report


Seventh consecutive month of year-over-year declines; decreases in all property segments.  In July, there were 4,539 closed sales in the Washington DC Metro Area.  This is 8.4 percent, or 414, fewer sales than this time last year and marks the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year declines.  But closed sales remained higher than the July-levels in 2010 through 2012.  All property segments had fewer closed sales than July 2013.  Sales for single-family detached homes decreased 13.2 percent, or by 330 sales, from last year and had the sharpest decline of all property segments.  Sales for townhomes decreased 5.3 percent, or by 66 sales, while those for condo properties decreased 1.6 percent, or by 19 sales.  As compared to last month, the number of sales decreased 9.3 percent, which is a milder decrease the 10-year average June to July change of -10.5 percent.


Modest increase in prices led by townhomes and condo properties.  At $428,000, the median sales price for the region increased 0.7 percent, or by $3,000, from last July.  This is the highest July-level for the region since 2007.  The median sales price for single-family detached homes fell 1.2 percent, or by $6,750, to $535,000 and was the only property segment to have a lower median sales price than last year.  At $418,000, the median sales price for townhomes increased by $19,000, or 4.8 percent, from last July.  The median sales price for condo properties increased 3.4 percent, or by $10,000, from July 2013 to $300,000.

Of the jurisdictions, the city of Alexandria had the highest growth in in median sale price, rising 9.3 percent.  The median sales price in Prince George’s County rose by nearly as much and increased 8.8 percent.  Three jurisdictions in the area had declines in median sales price from this time last year: the city of Fairfax (-9.2 percent), Montgomery County (-1.5 percent) and Fairfax County (-1.1 percent).


Decreases in all property segments; eighth consecutive year-over-year decline.  The number of new contracts declined from last July, falling by 4.8 percent, or by 240 contracts, to 4,773 contracts.  This is the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year decreases.  But the number of contracts is above its July-levels in 2006 through 2012.  All property segments had fewer contracts than last July.  New contracts for townhomes fell the most, and decreased 7.6 percent, or by 100 contracts.  New contracts for condos declined 7.3 percent, or by 99 contracts, from last July, while those for single-family detached homes decreased 1.9 percent, or by 44 contracts.  New contracts decreased 7.4 percent from last month, which is a milder decline than the ten-year average June to July change of -8.5 percent.


Highest number of active listings since November 2011; increases in new listings in all property segments. Active listings in the Washington, DC Metro Area increased 33.5 percent, or by 2,808 listings, from last July to 11,119 listings.  Active listings have now increased from the prior year for ten months in a row and have reached their highest level of any month in nearly three years.  Despite these gains, active listings are 56.8 percent lower than their 2007 peak.  Of the property segments, active listings for townhomes had the largest increase from last year, rising 45.3 percent.  Active listings for condo properties rose 37.7 percent.  There were 6,431 active listings for single-family detached homes, 28.3 percent more than this time last year.

For the fifth consecutive month, new listings were above their year-ago level.  There were 6,282 new listings in July, an increase of 8.1 percent, or 470 listings, from July 2013.  New listings for townhomes had the highest growth of the property segments and rose 9.3 percent, or by 137 listings from last year.  New listings of single-family detached homes rose 8.9 percent, or by 253 listings, from this time last year, and those for condo properties increased 5.2 percent or by 77 listings. Homes continue to sell quickly and the median days-on-market is 17.  While this is five days higher than last year, it is lower than the 10-year July-level average of 29 days.

Look for prices to rise more slowly in 2014 and home building to push ahead of the housing market’s recovery.

This was a great article in USA Today…worth reposting!

The housing recovery hit high gear in 2013 with bigger than expected price gains and solid home sales. This year isn’t likely to be as exciting. Rising mortgage interest rates will price out some potential buyers. Instead of double-digit price gains, look for single-digit ones, economists say, while existing home sales remain at last year’s level.

Sound boring? “You want boring in the housing market,” says Svenja Gudell, Zillow director of economic research.

Here’s what’s ahead for:

• Home prices. They were the highlight of the 2013 housing market, up 12.5% in October year over year, CoreLogic says. Prices are now 20% off their 2006 peaks after falling more than 30%, shows the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index.

Economist John Burns looks for a 6% gain in 2014. Many others see smaller increases ahead. Zillow forecasts just a 3% rise.

Prices will likely rise more slowly as more homes come on the market, fewer investors bid for homes and higher ownership costs — including interest rates and home prices — take a bite out of housing affordability, housing experts say.

Still, U.S. housing remains 4% undervalued when compared with other economic fundamentals, such as consumer incomes and the cost to rent, says Jed Kolko, Trulia economist. At their 2006 peak, home prices were 39% overvalued based on the same metrics, Kolko says.

•Existing home sales. They’ve started to slow. In November, they were down year over year for the first time in 29 months, National Association of Realtor data show.

The dip was driven by higher interest rates and a tight supply of homes for sale. It doesn’t mean the housing recovery has come off the rails, because home prices and housing starts continue to improve, says Capital Economics economist Paul Ashworth.

Existing home sales, which came in at a 4.9 million seasonally adjusted pace in November, are expected to be about 10% higher in 2013 than 2012 and stay about the same at 5.1 million in 2014, NAR forecasts. That’s roughly back to 2007 levels but below the inflated levels preceding the housing crash.

New-home sales, which make up a smaller part of the market, have more room to grow. They hit an annual pace of 464,000 in November, up almost 17% from a year ago but still below the 700,000-a-year pace generally considered healthy.

The new year will be different for home buyers, though.

Look for fewer bidding wars and a less frantic market, says Glenn Kelman, CEO of brokerage Redfin. Its data show bidding wars recently falling to one of two offers handled by Redfin agents, down from three of four at the peak in March.

Homes are taking longer to sell, and more sellers are also reducing prices to win sales, Kelman says. At the same time, the supply of existing homes for sale edged up to 5.1 months from 4.9 months in October, NAR says. That’s still below the six-month supply that Realtors generally consider to be a balanced market for buyers and sellers.

Supply should get closer to that level in 2014, Kelman says.

Donaee and Jeff Reeve hope he’s right. The couple sold their Seattle-area home in just 10 days amid a hot June market. They’ve been renting as they search for a new home with a few acres. Meanwhile, prices have risen. The lack of suitable homes for sale is “discouraging,” says Donaee Reeve, 36, a dental hygienist.

• Housing construction. This part of the housing recovery has been a laggard.

November’s data showed an improvement, with housing starts topping 1 million on an annual basis, the Commerce Department says. That was up almost 30% from a year earlier, but it’s still far below the norm. Starts averaged 1.5 million a year before the mid-2000s housing boom.

Construction won’t return to normal this year, but it will strengthen enough to be the main driver of the housing recovery as home price gains shrink, says investment manager Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

It sees housing starts increasing 20% a year for the next several years as household formation picks up with the strengthening economy.

More home construction means more jobs for construction workers, plumbers, civil engineers and others in the building trades, as well as related industries such as furniture manufacturing, it says.

Construction alone will add 300,000 to 500,000 jobs a year to the nation’s job base for the next three years, GSAM predicts. That’s up from about 100,000 in 2013.

“The construction revival is primarily a matter of when, not if,” says Tom Teles, GSAM head of securitized and government investments.

• Mortgage rates. Sarah and Andrew Katz know home prices are going up, and mortgage interest rates, too. But they’re still convinced it’s a good time to buy a first home. They’ve set their sights on spring.

“We’re banking on interest rates staying under 5%, but they are what they are,” says Sarah, 29, who works in public relations in Manhattan.

The couple better not wait too long, economists warn.

Average rates for a fixed 30-year mortgage will rise to 5.5% by the end of 2014, says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. Rates have already risen about 1 percentage point in the past year as the economy has strengthened. They’ll be pushed up further as the Federal Reserve winds down its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program.

Each percentage point increase in mortgage rates makes homes about 10% more expensive in terms of higher housing payments.

Another factor could weigh on borrowers. Starting in January, lenders must make home loans that meet new federal qualified mortgage standards or face greater liability from borrower lawsuits, should the loans go sour.

At least 5% of mortgages extended in 2013 wouldn’t meet the new standard, Yun says. More than that will likely face additional scrutiny from lenders as they implement all parts of the new rule, says Brian Koss, executive vice president of lender Mortgage Network.

He says the higher rates and tighter rules will likely drive some home buyers out of the market or into lower-priced homes than they could have afforded last year.

“People have gotten spoiled,” Koss says. Higher rates and home prices will test the strength of the housing recovery in 2014, he says.

Originally posted by, Julie Schmit, USA TODAY

Fairfax County Home Sales Surpass $1 Billion in June

Prices IncreaseHold on to your boot straps, it looks like the real estate market in Northern Virginia/Washington, DC is on the rise again!  At least inside the beltway in Fairfax County, Arlington County, Alexandria City, and Falls Church.

The Sun Gazette reports that in Fairfax County alone, Home Sales Surpass $1 Billion Across County in June . Sales for the month totaled 1,838, an increase of 18.8 percent from the 1,547 transactions reported in June 2012.  The average sales price was also up 7 percent.

Is this a good thing or too much of a good thing?

The Fiscal Cliff and the Real Estate Market

I came across this article about what could happen to the housing market if we fall off the fiscal cliff…(Huffington Post 12/19/12)  While I cannot say I agree with everything this article says, it does make for an interesting read.

Everyone agas portrayed by CBCNews.comrees the economy will falter if we go off the fiscal cliff, but how will the tax increases and spending cuts it will trigger impact the housing market?

  1. Reduced housing demand and construction: Most experts predict the combination of tax increases and spending cuts will push the economy back into recession. This means both new construction and demand for existing housing will wane, quickly reversing the six-month old housing recovery.
  2. Dramatic reduction in short sales: Failure to reach a budget deal could mean the elimination of the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007, which allows borrowers to avoid paying taxes on the amount of forgiven debt. If eliminated, homeowners who complete a short sale would have to pay income tax on the amount of debt relief. This would deter banks from approving short sales and could weaken home price gains and slow the housing recovery.
  3. Less capital flows to real estate: If lawmakers don’t act, the capital gains tax will increase from its current 15% to 20% at the start of the year. This increased tax would affect profits made from property sales, a possible deterrent to investing in real estate. The sale of primary residences is exempt from this–up to $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for a married couple filing jointly.
  4. Increase in mortgage insurance costs: On January 1, this mortgage insurance tax deduction is set to expire, which will slightly raise costs for those who put less than 20% down and are required to purchase mortgage insurance.

Even if Congress and the President can make a deal on how to reduce spending and raise revenue before the end of the year, it doesn’t mean the real estate market is off the hot seat. Much will come down to the specifics of the agreement, and the challenge for lawmakers will be finding a way to reduce the federal deficit without stunting the housing and economic recovery.

The primary concern most homeowners have is how lawmakers will deal with current tax deductions for interest on home mortgages. Once considered untouchable, elected officials appear to be considering reducing it or eliminating it. Getting rid of it entirely would provide the federal government with an additional $100 billion in revenue a year, which is still a fraction of the 2012 deficit of $1.1 trillion. By comparison, the president’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthiest two percent of Americans would raise about $160 billion per year for the next decade.

A home owner with a $100,000 mortgage would receive about $520 in tax savings the first year and $15 in the final year of a 30-year mortgage with interest at 3.5%. For someone with a $1 million mortgage, the savings would be around $9,714 the first year and $282 in the final year. For an estimate of how much you’d save, check out the handy calculator at Yahoo Homes.

The mortgage deduction unquestionably supports the housing market by making home ownership significantly cheaper, especially in the first few years of a mortgage. However, critics argue the bulk of the money saved is by wealthier homeowners and little of it ends up in the pockets of the middle class. Consider it a microcosm for all the disagreements in Congress right now, which is exactly why no one is quite sure how an agreement will be reached or what the future holds for the housing recovery.