CHICAGO—When Ben Bernanke spoke at last week’s NIC National Conference on seniors housing, he illustrated one of the reasons the housing market has not yet fulfilled its post-recession potential. He told the story of a well-to-do homeowner who could not get a loan to refinance his home. The name of the homeowner? Ben Bernanke. “I recently tried to refinance my mortgage and I was unsuccessful in doing so,” the former chairman of the Federal Reserve told an assembled lunchtime throng of more than 2,000 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.

Although he recognized that the housing market was spooked by a collapse which followed years of easy credit, the fact that someone considered a great credit risk by any rational standard was denied a refinance means “we’ve gone a little too far.” He recommended that lenders lighten up a bit. If they don’t it could impact the economic well-being of an entire generation. “The first-time homebuyer market is not what it should be,” he pointed out, and millennials especially have struggled to establish households.

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