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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reiss on Landlords of Last Resort

David J. Reiss (Brooklyn) has posted Landlords of Last Resort: Should the Government Subsidize the Mortgages of Privately-Owned, Small Multifamily Buildings? on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

The absence of stable financing options has long caused difficulties for owners of small multifamily buildings. Despite the ongoing maturation of a secondary mortgage market for small multifamily mortgages, this housing stock continues to shrink due to abandonment, demolition, foreclosure and other causes. As these buildings house many low-income households, some have suggested subsidizing the financing costs for the owners of these buildings. Any proposal to subsidize these landlords to meet affordable housing goals, however, should be predicated on determinations that (i) it is an efficient means to provide housing to the neediest tenants and (ii) the multifamily mortgage market is subject to failures that make such government intervention appropriate.

This article first describes what little is known about small multifamily properties and their owners. It then describes the lending environment for real estate entrepreneurs over the last hundred years. Finally, it evaluates the role the government should play in the small multifamily mortgage sector. The article concludes that subsidizing owners of small apartment building is an inefficient and unwarranted affordable housing policy and that more direct subsidies to low-income households, such as housing vouchers, are preferable.

Ben Barros

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