Herman Cain might like this weeks’ $200k sale: it’s all about the master. 1519 Beaumont Street in The Cedars features a sauna off the master that I would love to try out right about now. It also has a unique master bedroom platform configuration that I just do not understand, but maybe that is because I am old. Is this “platform” supposed to add spice to your sex life? As in, drumroll, presenting the bed! Is is guaranteed to keep husbands from straying?  Or is it a great place to film, ah how can I say this discretely, “videos”? Maybe you add curtains around the bed, how dramatic! Me, I think I’d just trip after too many glasses of bubbly seeking a potty lickety-split. 

The 2871 square foot condo was built in 2000 boasts 12 and 14 foot tall ceilings, three fireplaces, a huge master with one of those fireplaces, that sauna off the master bath, two showers, spacious closets, ceiling fans, kitchen with stainless appliance including a Viking dishwasher, a wall of glass block in the breakfast area, a large library-study with walls of 12 foot high bookcases, two living areas, three bedrooms and three separate entrances. Perfect work/live environment in a fun, funky part of town east of I 30 near Old City Park. Super pretty during the holidays, but check this out: Owner will consider owner financing for a qualified buyer. Asking $239,500, listed with Ronald Maddran of Virginia Cook.

This Master just doesn't "do it" for me, you?

I LOVE this column from HousingWire. As I said earlier, I think “maybe bad boy” Herman Cain is the only Repub candidate who has said anything remotely intelligent about solving the nation’s housing crisis, which is a major constipator of our economy: housing is 5 or 6% of the GDP. Nationally foreclosures are on their way up, while U.S. home prices fell in nearly three-quarters of metropolitan areas third quarter. National median home prices dropped 4.7%. The housing market is very anemic: median prices for pre-owned sold July-to-September  declined when compared with last year in 111 out of 150 metro areas tracked by the National Association of Realtors.

I laud Cain because he acknowledges that Dodd-Frank is a nightmare. A nightmare that has only just begun. The other day, I had the pleasure of hearing my favorite real estate guru, Dr. James Gaines, speak to the Home Builder’s Association of Greater Dallas. It is so fun to be around a (dwindling) bunch of home builders —

“Hey Joe, how much are you paying for metal roofs now?”

“Oh about $350 a foot.”

“Wow, who do you use?”

I always feel like I am getting inside info and I am addicted to the smell of fresh lumber! Anyhoo, Dr. Gaines made his usual stab at spreading common sense: our economy is trying to recover, but cannot because of all the uncertainty. Texas is the only state in the union with job growth. Everyone has quit spending. It’s like we are at a giant standstill. Corporate America is siting on $3 trillion in cash but no one wants to move because no one knows what crazy thing the government might do next.

Like Dodd-Frank. 240 regulations yet to be written by an entity that doesn’t even have a leader because the Senate won’t appoint anybody, says Dr. Gaines. Will the government change the mortage deduction? There has been speculation they may wipe it out completely for second homes — there goes that market.

So Kerry Curry hit it on the nose: they are all pretty much clueless, expect, I think, Cain. I thought I would barf last debate when Michele Bachman got all touchy-feely and went “Super Mom” on us, sympathizing with the Las Vegas foreclosure folks. Last night she said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are destroying housing and “we need to put them back into bankruptcy and get them out of business.” Michele, they are already sort of bankrupt but they are also the only entity loaning money right now for many Americans. Do you want everyone to pay cash for homes like they did in 1915?

Then Newt Gingrich claimed that banks profit more from foreclosures than they do from short sales. This is something I have actually heard, and would love to know more about, the idea being banks repossess the home or property, then they re-sell it. But it’s still hard for me to understand how banks “profit” from millions of foreclosures or short sales.

Ron Paul is a physician and has his home on the market so should not be so clueless: “prices on mortgages are too high, and that’s being done to prop up the banks.” GMAB: interest rates are at their lowest in years, as Dr. Gaines pointed out Tuesday at HBA. He expects them to continue to be low at least through 2013.

Kerry liked  former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who felt the pain in better words than the other candidates:

“Let me just say, on the housing discussion here, lost in all of this debate is the fact that there are people tuning in tonight who are upside down in terms of the financing of their homes. They are feeling real pain. People who probably heard today that they lost a job. These issues are very real. They are complicated. For us to say that there is an easy solution to housing, that’s just not right, and that’s not fair.”

Yes, sounds sympathetic, but a solution? One? Two? The Obama administration has none, and neither do any of these candidates. Except, of course, for Cain, once he stops blabbing about his “9-9-9”. He points out that government policy, which got us into to this mess in the first place, sure isn’t getting us out.

P.S: How deft is Rick Perry? While he had that brain fart about which government agency he would eliminate, why didn’t he jump in to talk about what Texas has done to remain one of the few housing bright spots in the nation? Surely it’s our economy, employment stats, lack of regulations, but for one: the Texas legislature passed the RIGHT sort of regulastion when it limited home owners to borrowing 80% loan to value on their homes with HELOCs.

Herman Cain is growing as my favorite Republican candidate (only when it comes to real estate, unfortunately we do not agree on several social issues) because of the smart remarks he has made in all the Republican debates about repairing our housing mess. Too bad he’s either (a) a bad boy, one of those men who thinks with his “second brain” or (b) being unfairly targeted by a few women. Maybe he’s just a smart-ass? When I was in TV News here in Dallas, the (overweight) weatherman once told me point blank that my butt was cute when I first got to Dallas from NYC, but was now getting too big i.e. I needed to exercise more. Is that sexual harrassment? 

Here’s another smart observation from Bloomberg: we can fix the housing drag on the U.S. economy — and it is a real drag — by letting the market do it’s job. Bring on the vultures! I have long wondered why banks didn’t just write down principal balances on underwater loans. According to Bloomberg/Business Week, there are 11 million underwater mortgage loans in this country and that number will likely swell. But if we just reduced the mortgage balances on all those underwater homes, well guess what: the homeowners wouldn’t be so underwater. This might ultimately stimulate the economy with some spending:

“If the market were working properly, millions of homeowners would have received debt relief a long time ago. That’s because it’s in the interest of creditors, who can gain by averting foreclosure. Consider a delinquent $100,000 loan on a house that is now worth $60,000. After taking possession of the house and selling it, a lender typically might recover less than $35,000, according to recovery rates calculated by Amherst Securities Group LP, an investment firm based in Austin, Texas.

By contrast, a 50 percent writedown of the principal balance could make the loan affordable and give the borrower some equity in the home. In that case, the lender has a performing asset worth $50,000 — a $15,000 difference”

This is not happening, says Bloomberg, because of the way banks are structured, and the way mortgages are packaged and sold off to investors. This administration has taken “extend and pretend” to “delay and pray”. Let the vultures come in and buy off assets cheaply — find a way for the loan servivcers, who are holding a lot of the troubled loans, to dispose of them. In the cycle of nature, vultures may not be the prettiest birds but they play a significant role: they clean the streets and right now, our streets are filthy. Here are four proposals Bloombery offered up to hear from a presidential candidate, smart mouth or not:

1. Encourage Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to build on a pilot program under which the Federal Housing Administration has auctioned almost $500 million in delinquent mortgages. Remember the RTC? It worked!

2. Give legal cover to servicers who sell loans, provided the sale price exceeds the expected recovery value, from investors who might feel shortchanged.

3. Allow servicers to sell loans that have been packaged into securities, even though trusts that hold the loans prohibit this.

4. Encourage the mortgage trusts to let servicers charge a small incentivizing sales commission.