84 Percent of Americans See Homeownership as Good Investment, Affordability a Growing Concern

Washington, D.C. – July 12, 2017 (nar.realtor) According to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2017 National Housing Pulse Survey, concerns over housing affordability show clear demographic divides especially among unmarried and non-white Americans. More than five out of 10 unmarried and non-white Americans view the lack of available affordable housing as a big problem, compared to only 40 percent of married and white Americans.

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The survey, measures consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing issues in the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan statistical areas and found that 84 percent of Americans now believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision – the highest number since 2007. Yet six in 10 said that they are concerned about affordability and the rising cost of buying a home or renting in their area. Housing affordability was ranked fourth in the top-five issues Americans face in their area behind the lack of affordable health care; low wages and debt making it hard to save; and heroin and opioid drug abuse, and ahead of job layoffs and employment.

Nationally, 44 percent of respondents categorized the lack of available affordable housing as a very big or fairly big problem. In the top 25 densest markets, more than half see the lack of affordable housing as a big problem, an increase of 11 percentage points from the 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey. Low-income Americans, renters and young women most acutely feel the housing pinch. There is also greater concern about affordable housing among the working class (65 percent) than for public servants such as teachers, firefighters or police (55 percent).

“Despite the growing concern over affordable housing, this survey makes it clear that a strong majority still believe in homeownership and aspire to own a home of their own. Building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and having the freedom to choose their neighborhood remain the top reasons to own a home,” says NAR president William E. Brown, a second-generation Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties.

Eight out of 10 believe that the most important financial reason to own a home is that the money spent on housing goes towards building equity rather than to a property owner. Paying off a mortgage and owning a home by the time you retire is the next most important financial reason for buying a home followed by ownership being a good investment opportunity to build long-term wealth and increase net worth.

When asked about the amount of down payment needed for a mortgage, four in 10 respondents believe that a down payment of 15 percent or more is necessary. Seventy percent feel that a reasonable down payment should be 10 percent or less, according to the survey. Misperceptions about higher down payment requirements were most prevalent in bigger cities and by older adults.

Apparent confusion about down payment requirements most likely added to non-owners concerns about affordability. NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that the median down payment for first-time buyers has been 6 percent for three straight years and 14 percent for repeat buyers in three of the past four years.

Over 50 percent of respondents strongly agree that homeownership helps build safe and secure neighborhoods and provides a stable and safe environment for children and family members.

The survey also found that four in 10 Americans say paying their rent or mortgage is a strain on their budget. Those most likely to say their mortgage is a strain have incomes under $60,000, are residents of New York City or the Pacific coast, are under the age of 50 and non-white. Just over half, 51 percent, of respondents said they were willing to strain their budget for a better living environment and would pick a neighborhood with better schools and job opportunities even if housing prices are a bigger strain on their budget. Those most willing to strain their budget are disproportionately married, upper income and living in the suburbs. Overspending on homes is more prevalent in Northeastern cities (36 percent), the Mountain West (34 percent) and the Pacific coast (33 percent).

The 2017 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program, which aims to position, educate and help Realtors® promote housing opportunities in their community, in both the rental and homeownership sectors of the market. The telephone survey polled 1,500 adults nationwide and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Media Contact:

Cole Henry
(202) 383-1290
Email

5 Root Causes for U.S.’s Depressed Homeownership Rate: New Study

Berkeley, CA – June 9, 2017 (nar.realtor) Despite steadily improving local job markets and historically low mortgage rates, the U.S. homeownership rate is stuck near a 50-year low because of a perverse mix of affordability challenges, student loan debt, tight credit conditions and housing supply shortages.

That’s according to findings of a new white paper titled, “Hurdles to Homeownership: Understanding the Barriers” (link is external) released today in recognition of National Homeownership Month at the National Association of Realtors® Sustainable Homeownership Conference at University of California, Berkeley.

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Led by a group of prominent experts, including NAR 2017 President William E. Brown, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun and Berkeley Hass Real Estate Group Chair Ken Rosen, today’s conference addresses the dip and idleness in the homeownership rate, its drag on the economy and what can be done to ensure more creditworthy households have the opportunity to buy a home.

“The decline and stagnation in the homeownership rate is a trend that’s pointing in the wrong direction, and must be reversed given the many benefits of homeownership to individuals, communities and the nation’s economy,” said Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California. “Those who are financially capable and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream.” One of Brown’s main objectives as president of NAR is identifying ways to boost the homeownership rate in a safe and responsible way.

The research, which was commissioned by NAR, prepared by Rosen Consulting Group, or RCG, and jointly released by the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business, identifies five main barriers that have prevented a significant number of households from purchasing a home. They are:

Post-foreclosure stress disorder: There are long-lasting psychological changes in financial decision-making, including housing tenure choice, for the 9 million homeowners who experienced foreclosure, the 8.7 million people who lost their jobs, and some young adults who witnessed the hardships of their family and friends. While most Americans still have positive feelings about homeownership, targeted programs and workshops about financial literacy and mortgage debt could help return-buyers and those who may have negative biases about owning.

Mortgage availability: Credit standards have not normalized following the Great Recession. Borrowers with good-to-excellent credit scores are not getting approved at the rate they were in 2003, prior to the period of excessively lax lending standards. Safely restoring lending requirements to accessible standards is key to helping creditworthy households purchase homes.

The growing burden of student loan debt: Young households are repaying an increasing level of student loan debt that makes it extremely difficult to save for a down payment, qualify for a mortgage and afford a mortgage payment, especially in areas with high rents and home prices. As NAR found in a survey released last year, student loan debt is delaying purchases from millennials and over half expect to be delayed by at least five years. Policy changes need to be enacted that address soaring tuition costs and make repayment less burdensome.

Single-family housing affordability: Lack of inventory, higher rents and home prices, difficulty saving for a down payment and investors weighing on supply levels by scooping up single-family homes have all lead to many markets experiencing decaying affordability conditions. Unless these challenges subside, RCG forecasts that affordability will fall by an average of nearly 9 percentage points across all 75 major markets between 2016 and 2019, with approximately 5 million fewer households able to afford the local median-priced home by 2019. Declining affordability needs to be addressed with policies enacted that ensure creditworthy young households and minority groups have the opportunity to own a home.

Single-family housing supply shortages: “Single-family home construction plummeted after the recession and is still failing to keep up with demand as cities see increased migration and population as the result of faster job growth,” said Rosen. “The insufficient level of homebuilding has created a cumulative deficit of nearly 3.7 million new homes over the last eight years.”

Fewer property lots at higher prices, difficulty finding skilled labor and higher construction costs are among the reasons cited by RCG for why housing starts are not ramping up to meet the growing demand for new supply. A concentrated effort to combat these obstacles is needed to increase building, alleviate supply shortages and preserve affordability for prospective buyers.

“Low mortgage rates and a healthy job market for college-educated adults should have translated to more home sales and upward movement in the homeownership rate in recent years,” said Yun. “Sadly, this has not been the case. Obtaining a mortgage has been tough for those with good credit, savings for a down payment are instead going towards steeper rents and student loans, and first-time buyers are finding that listings in their price range are severely inadequate.”

Added Rosen, “A healthy housing market is critical to the overall success of the U.S. economy. Too many would-be buyers have been locked out of the market by the factors found in this study, and it’s also one of the biggest reasons why economic growth has been subpar in the current recovery.”

Today’s homeownership event in Berkeley brings together leading housing economists, policy experts, real estate practitioners and public officials to discuss current market conditions, housing policy, improving access to credit, affordable housing options and inequality.

Along with Brown, Yun and Rosen, the notable list of speakers are: Katherine Baker, California State Assembly, 16th district; Matt Regan, senior vice president of public policy, Bay Area Council; Chuck Reed, former San Jose Mayor and special counsel, Hopkins & Carley; David Bank, senior vice president, Rosen Consulting Group; and Jim Gaines, chief economist, Texas A&M University Real Estate Center;

Additional speakers are Joel Singer, CEO and state secretary, California Association of Realtors®; Nancy Wallace, co-chair, Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics and professor, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business; Laurie Goodman, co-director, Housing Finance Policy Center, Urban Institute; Carol Galante, I. Donald Terner Distinguished Professor of Affordable Housing and Urban Policy; faculty director, Terner Center for Housing Innovation; Co-Chair of Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics; and former FHA Commissioner; John C. Weicher, director, Center for Housing and Financial Markets at the Hudson Institute, and former FHA Commissioner.

Hurdles to Homeownership: Understanding the Barriers (link is external)” is the second of three papers scheduled for release in 2017 by RCG. Among the findings of the first white paper, “Homeownership in Crisis: Where Are We Now? (link is external),” released earlier this year, RCG estimated that more than $300 billion would have been added to the economy in 2016, representing a 1.8 percent bump to GDP, if homebuilding returned to a more normalized level consistent with the historical trend. The third paper – published later this year – will highlight a series of creative policy ideas to promote safe, affordable and sustainable homeownership opportunities.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing over 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Media Contact:

Adam DeSanctis
(202) 383-1178
Email

Homeownership in the Crosshairs of Latest Tax Plan, Say Realtors®

Washington, D.C. – April 26, 2017 (nar.realtor) Major reforms are needed to lower tax rates and simplify the tax code, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of current and prospective homeowners. That’s according to National Association of Realtors® President William E. Brown, a second-generation Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties.

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Brown said that while the President’s tax proposal released today is well-intentioned, it’s a non-starter for homeowners and real estate professionals who see the benefits of housing and real estate investment at work every day. By doubling the standard deduction and repealing the state and local tax deduction, the plan would effectively nullify the current tax benefits of owning a home for the vast majority of tax filers. In light of the plan’s release, Brown issued the following statement:

“For over a century, America has committed itself to homeownership with targeted tax incentives that help lower- and middle-class families purchase what is likely their largest asset. No surprise, real estate now accounts for over 19 percent of America’s gross domestic product, or more than $3 trillion in investment.

“But for roughly 75 million homeowners across the country, their home is more than just a number. It represents their ambitions, their nest egg, and the place where memories are made with family and friends.

“Targeted tax incentives are in place to help people get there. The mortgage interest deduction and the state and local tax deduction make homeownership more affordable, while 1031 like-kind exchanges help investors keep inventory on the market and money flowing to local communities.

“Those tax incentives are at risk in the tax plan released today. Current homeowners could very well see their home’s value plummet and their equity evaporate if tax reform nullifies or eliminates the tax incentives they depend upon, while prospective homebuyers will see that dream pushed further out of reach. As it stands, homeowners already pay between 80 and 90 percent of U.S. federal income tax. Without tax incentives for homeownership, those numbers could rise even further. And while we appreciate the Administration’s stated commitment to protecting homeownership, this plan does anything but.”

“Homeowners put their hard-earned money on the line to make an investment in themselves and their communities, and it’s on them to protect that investment. Common sense says owning a home isn’t the same as renting one, and American’s tax code shouldn’t treat those activities the same either.

“Realtors® support tax reform, and it’s encouraging to see leaders in Washington doing their part to get there. We believe tax rates should come down to the degree that sound fiscal policy allows, and simplifying the tax code will help ensure fairness and transparency for individual taxpayers. It’s a goal we share with the authors of this tax plan, but getting there by eliminating the incentives for homeownership is the wrong approach. We look forward to working with leaders in Congress and the administration to reform the tax code, while preserving America’s long-held commitment to homeownership.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Media Contact:

Jon Boughtin
(202) 383-1193
Email

The State of the Union is Getting Better for Homeownership

Washington, D.C. (January 28, 2014 (Realtor.org) The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown:

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“NAR commends President Obama for highlighting two key policy reforms during his State of the Union address tonight that support the future of homeownership and the business of real estate.

“Realtors® welcome the President’s call for legislation to keep the dream of homeownership alive for all Americans while protecting taxpayers from the risk of costly bailouts. NAR supports bipartisan legislation in the Senate that will restructure the secondary mortgage market to encourage private capital while also preserving the government guarantee so that middle-class homebuyers continue to have access to safe, reliable mortgage products, such as 30-and 15-year fixed-rate loans.

“President Obama also called on Congress to pass legislation to curtail the frivolous patent infringement lawsuits and licensing schemes that have unnecessarily cost Realtors® and other main street businesses valuable resources. NAR is working closely with legislators and allies to draft patent reforms that will combat these abusive trolling practices.

“NAR is ready and willing to work with President Obama and Congress to develop sound policies to promote and protect the American dream of homeownership.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Media Contact:

Jenny Werwa
202-383-1193
Email

Homeownership Tax Benefits Must Be Preserved, Say Realtors

Washington, July 28, 2011 (Realtor.org) Any changes to the mortgage interest deduction now or in the future could threaten recent progress toward stabilizing the housing market, critically erode home prices and values, destroy middle-class wealth accumulation and hurt economic growth.

That was the message delivered by National Association of Realtors® NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun during today’s Rethinking the Mortgage Interest Deduction forum, where he joined a panel of experts to debate the future of the MID. The event was hosted by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institute, and the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence Yun

Lawrence Yun

“As the leading advocate for housing and homeownership, NAR firmly believes that the mortgage interest deduction is vital to the stability of the American housing market and economy,” said Yun. “The MID facilitates home ownership by reducing the carrying costs of owning a home, and it makes a real difference to hard-working middle-class families.”

Yun argued that now is the worst possible time to discuss changing the tax laws, which could further impair the housing market’s fragile recovery and a broader job market recovery.

“One thing that is indisputable is that eliminating the MID will lower the homeownership rate in the U.S.,” he said. “While we must ensure that the conditions that led to the artificially inflated home ownership rate of the bubble years do not resurface, we also need to create the conditions for sustainable home ownership, which has been shown to provide myriad social benefits for families and communities.”

During the debate, Yun challenged recent proposals calling for changes to the tax code, stating that it’s a misplaced argument to say the MID was a cause of the housing market bubble and is suddenly part of the deficit problem, when it’s been part of the federal tax code for more than 100 years.

Reducing or eliminating the MID is a de facto tax increase on homeowners, who already pay 80 to 90 percent of U.S. federal income tax. Yun said the share could rise to 95 percent if the MID is eliminated.

“Doing away with the MID shouldn’t be thought of as removing a tax break for homeowners, but rather increasing taxes on the middle class,” he said. “Furthermore, housing equity has been a major source of funds for small businesses, and any change to the MID will greatly hamper their ability to create jobs.”

Yun also asserted that it’s a misconception that only the wealthy benefit from the MID, when in reality it benefits primarily middle- and lower income families. Almost two-thirds of those who claim the MID are middle-income earners and 91 percent of people who claim the MID earn less than $200,000 per year.

Other panelists at the Rethinking the Mortgage Interest Deduction forum were Seth Hanton, director of fiscal policy, Center for American Progress; Dean Stansel, adjunct fellow, Reason Foundation; and Eric Toder, institute fellow, Urban Institute, and co-director of the Tax Policy Center. The event was moderated by Edmund Andrews, managing editor for economics, taxes and budget at the National Journal.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

For more information, contact:

Sara Wiskerchen
(202) 383-1013
swiskerchen@realtors.org

Homeownership Aspiration Remains Strong among Americans

RISMEDIA (RISMEDIA) December 10, 2010—A new study recently released by Fannie Mae finds that most Americans—both those who currently own their homes and those who rent—strongly aspire to own a home and to maintain homeownership, despite ongoing turmoil in the housing market. However, demographic trends such as fewer married couples and less families with children resulting in shrinking households—combined with financial caution among consumers—are contributing to an increased willingness to rent.

The Fannie Mae 2010 Own-Rent Analysis is based on extensive primary research with homeowners and renters (including focus groups and a quantitative survey), U.S. Census Bureau data, and micro- and macro- economic parameters, and explores the factors influencing consumers’ decisions to buy or rent a home. The release highlights two of the four major themes of this analysis in reports titled, Persistence of the Homeownership Aspiration and Housing Choices Throughout the Lifecycle and the Impact of Changing Demographics.

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According to the study findings, 51% of current owners and renters say that the housing crisis has not affected their overall willingness to buy a home. However, while homeownership aspirations are high for the long-term, Americans have near-term doubts about buying. Overall, according to Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey third quarter results, one-third of Americans (33%) would be more likely to rent their next home than buy, up from 30% in January 2010. Among renters, 59% said they would continue to rent in their next move, compared to 54% in January 2010.

The Fannie Mae National Housing Survey is an ongoing research initiative that surveys Americans’ attitudes about housing on a monthly basis. The most recent installment of this survey, released in November, showed that aspirations toward homeownership remain strong—well in excess of current homeownership rates—but decisions to buy are tempered by current consumers’ cautious attitudes toward home buying in the current financial environment and a more conservative housing finance environment.

Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Chief Economist

Doug Duncan

“Despite Americans’ strong desire to own their homes, our study reveals that life events are greatly influencing families’ decision to rent. This trend, coupled with the housing crisis, has caused consumers to approach homeownership with greater caution and thoughtfulness,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae vice president and chief economist.

Fannie Mae’s research analysis indicates that shifting U.S. demographic and lifestyle trends correlate to consumers’ housing decisions, which may have long-term implications for the housing market. For example, married couples historically have been more likely to own than other households, but traditional married couples are a shrinking portion of the population. Additionally, having children has increased the propensity to own a home, historically, although many families with children (particularly single mothers) are currently renting because of financial constraints, and the percentage of households with children is declining overall.

Ken Bacon

Ken Bacon

“The data in the analysis aligns with what we’re seeing in the market. More Americans are viewing rental housing as an attractive and sustainable housing option. As a result, we remain focused on helping America’s working families—many of whom have incomes at or below the median in their communities—live in quality, sustainable, affordable rental housing,” said Ken Bacon, Executive Vice President of Fannie Mae’s Multifamily Mortgage Business.

The analysis, based on telephone survey interviews with 2,041 members of the United States general population (plus 1,566 additional respondents from geographic areas of interest) and rigorous research by Fannie Mae, compares current consumer actions, attitudes and financial considerations with historical consumer behaviors, market experience and economic conditions. The study identified four key themes of the “owning versus renting” decision-making process, and results are available in a series of themed reports that cut the data across consumer life stage; ethnicity/race/immigration status; and demographic, geographic, housing and economic status.

For more information, visit www.fanniemae.com.

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