The Real Deal Miami

UN to weigh in on housing crisis

By Sara Polsky | December 18, 2008 03:31PM

For the first time, the United Nations has chosen to weigh in on the housing crisis. The UN’s real estate market advisory group will prepare guidelines for potential UN action on the housing crisis, to be presented at a meeting in March.

Real estate experts appeared at a United Nations seminar Tuesday to review the real estate origins of the current financial crisis and discuss the UN’s future involvement, said Stephen Williams, global adviser at Real Capital Analytics, who will be writing the guidelines.

The participants in Tuesday’s seminar agreed that attracting foreign investments into countries and getting mortgages flowing again are key priorities, Williams, also past president of RICS Americas, the U.S. division of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said in an interview. The guidelines will address how to help people find jobs that will allow them to pay off mortgages, Williams said.

“If the national [governments] could stamp out corruption and put in place the basic things that attract foreign capital into their economics, agencies like the UN can then overlay or can encourage putting some money in,” Williams said.

The financial crisis affects “emerging countries and housing and all sorts of human problems,” Williams said, making “all the things the UN tries to do in normal times” even more urgent.

Williams welcomed the UN’s decision to get involved in addressing the crisis. “It gets us out of this U.S.-dominated political arena….Maybe the UN will have a fairer perspective on the world economy.”