Chuckling that his current digs, The White House, is a rental, President Obama made the case on Wednesday for programs that encourage home refinancing by saying that he and Michelle would probably benefit from refinancing for their home in Chicago.
"Not to get too personal but for our home in Chicago, we would benefit from refinancing," he said. "No doubt that someone like Michelle and I who bought our house years ago if we went to the market, we'd save money."
The president and first lady Michelle Obama have an interest rate of 5.625 percent on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage on their home in an upscale Chicago neighborhood. When they bought their home in early 2005, the rate was below the average for such loans in Chicago, but is higher than the current rates of about 4 percent.
"When you're president, you have to be a little careful about these transactions, so we haven't refinanced," he added.
Obama chatted about the housing market in a live online discussion hosted by Zillow, an online real estate data base Wednesday afternoon.Taking questions submitted by social media from ordinary Americans around the country, he further articulated ideas first made in a housing speech he gave the previous day in Phoenix.
Acknowledging that not every homeowner has been able to bounce back from the housing bust of the 2008 recession, Obama advocated for keeping interest rates low and pushing for programs that would allow people to refinance their homes.
Questions on interest rates, refinancing and rental affordability were posed by Americans using the hashtag #AskObamaHousing.
How do you plan to make mortgages available to low-income, credit challenged borrowers in the absence of F&F #AskObamaHousing
— Terrance (@publiusterrance) August 7, 2013
#askobamahousing confiscatory tax rates for incomes <$40k are part of the problem. Why not remove that burden from the lower class?
— Scot Henk (@revord10) August 7, 2013
— Brian Bolan (@bbolan1) August 7, 2013
Affordable housing policies are often urban focused. What programs would ensure affordability in rural & underserved areas?#AskObamaHousing
— Athens County RPC (@AthensCountyRPC) August 7, 2013
A live online chat is certainly not foreign to this White House, which has intentionally diversified the way it reaches out to Americans, often trying to bypass mainstream media outlets and communicate more directly with Obama's constituents. Just yesterday, the White House posted its first Instagram video soliciting questions for today's discussion. And last night he talked about his housing reforms and other economic proposals on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.