Iowa is Prime Real Estate for 2012 GOP Hopefuls

Newt Gingrich made upwards of $1.8 million in consulting fees from Freddie Mac, one of the two largest U.S. buyers of home mortgages. SOURCE: Getty Images

Update #2: In a re-count, Rick Santorum wins Iowa Caucus by 34 votes.

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Update: Romney wins Iowa Caucus by 8 votes

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Original post:

For Republicans, the 2012 road to the White House begins today with the Iowa Caucus. For Newt Gingrich, whose presidential aspirations gained momentum at the end of 2011, the chance of becoming the GOP nominee were quickly torpedoed on revelations that Gingrich was paid $1.8 million as a consultant to Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, better known as Freddie Mac.

With his fall, Gingrich has watched as libertarian Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum have become the conservative and anti-establishment choice in Iowa against Mitt Romney.

In a country still recovering from the impact of an economic collapse hinged in large part on securities-backed housing bubble, Gingrich’s fleeting jump to the head of the GOP pack was short-circuited when he failed to defend against attack ads that underscored his willingness to accept the status quo of questionable practices.

Gingrich has been lambasted for his role with Freddie Mac by everyone from his fellow GOP primary opponents, who unleashed upwards of $6 million in attack ads against Gingrich in Iowa, to the Wall Street Journal, which editorialized against Gingrich’s anti-conservative transgressions.

“The real history lesson here may be what the Freddie episode reveals about Mr. Gingrich’s political philosophy. To wit, he has a soft spot for big government when he can use it for his own political ends. He also supported the individual mandate in health care in the 1990s, and we recall when he lobbied us to endorse the prescription drug benefit with only token Medicare reform in 2003,” the WSJ said.

With Gingrich looking beyond Iowa and New Hampshire to South Carolina for his political salvation, that left Santorum, Paul and Romney as the leading candidates heading into the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus, according to last-minute polling.

Santorum’s surge could lead him to a victory in the Hawkeye State, though there is much speculation about what the Republican Party will do if no candidate arrives at the national convention in Tampa, FL. with enough delegate support to win the nomination.

That’s what makes today’s primary season kickoff in Iowa such big news. The fight among Republicans for the right to take on President Barack Obama could drag on for eight months, but that doesn’t take any shine off the litmus test Iowa voters are eager to deliver for the 2012 presidential election season.

For housing economists and real state professionals, the question put forth is: “Which GOP candidate has the tools to help stimulate the housing market?” Despite the housing morass, many conservatives have acknowledged that less government manipulation of the markets, including housing, is the best path back to solid ground.

Iowa Home Value Data

  • Change from Peak: 48% (Peak, Jan. 2009)
  • Foreclosure Re-sales: 8.1%. The percentage of home sales in a given month in Iowa where the home was foreclosed upon within the previous 12 months (e.g., sales of bank-owned homes after the bank repossessed a home during a foreclosure).
  • Decreasing values: 43.2%. The percentage of all homes in Iowa whose value has fallen in the last year.
  • Sold for loss: 21.9%. The percentage of homes in Iowa that sold for less than the previous purchase price (e.g. a home purchased for $250k and then sold for $225k). This excludes foreclosure transactions.