Housing Numbers Homeowners Mixed Signals

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WASHINGTON - New numbers released Tuesday show home construction is on the rise, yet applications for building permits continue to decline.

This comes as the White House unveils a new housing program and the Senate debates the future of the $8,000 tax credit program for first-time buyers.

The report also revealed nearly one million homes nationwide were in foreclosure over the summer.

That was Leslee Ramos' biggest fear.

"Right now I'm so far behind that I'm just afraid that the bank is going to foreclose on my property," she said.

Ramos bought a three bedroom townhome three years ago for $255,000. Now, it's only worth $121,000, and she has lost her job.

This week, the White House announced a plan to boost the housing market for low to moderate income first-time home buyers.

State and local housing agencies would be able to issue new mortgages with credit from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae backed by the federal government.

"This plan will really help the states provide affordable housing to first-time homebuyers," explained Susan Dewey of the National Council of State Housing Agencies. "Our role is to not only make sure that people are getting into homes, but make sure that they stay in the homes."

The U.S. housing market has been struggling to recover, even with the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers set to expire at the end of November.

A Senate panel is considering extending the credit. Many real estate agents and home builders say that would help the market.

Some in Congress even hope to expand it, but there has been no decision yet from the administration.

Some are skeptical, saying people who have used the tax credit would have bought homes even without it.

The administration says it will have a recommendation in the coming weeks.

Struggling homeowners just hope one of these programs will be the right fit.

"In the past I've tried thousands of things that they've said," Ramos said. "New programs that they're going to help the homebuyers and nothing has worked out."

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.