Homeownership is a financial windfall for most households, with homeowner wealth soaring 40 times higher than renters. Over the last decade, most owners have earned more than $100,000 in equity, according to research from the National Association of REALTORS®. Homeownership has long been a primary avenue for building generational wealth and is a crucial component to closing the racial wealth gap in America.
As June marks National Homeownership Month, real estate professionals, brokerages, REALTOR® associations and lawmakers are promoting the benefits of homeownership while also spotlighting the work that still needs to be done. To help in this endeavor, NAR has launched a Homeownership Month toolkit. “Homeownership is the centerpiece of the American Dream and the best way to build financial security,” says NAR President Kenny Parcell. “REALTORS® strive to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to achieve homeownership, but prospective buyers face more barriers now than ever before. We continue to work with policymakers and industry partners to bring relief for buyers and put homeownership in reach for more people.”
President Joe Biden issued a proclamation saying the month of June is a time to recognize the benefits of owning a home, such as building roots in a community, gaining equity and passing down generational wealth. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has launched a campaign, “Make Home the Goal,” to commemorate the month. The department will hold a free event this Saturday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to provide information to aspiring home buyers about housing counseling, financial education, down payment assistance and FHA mortgages. “I want everyone in this country who desires to own a home of their own to have access to the resources and tools they need,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a statement.
Despite recent economic turbulence, Americans still have a strong desire to own a home. Fifty-eight percent of people who have never owned before say they are likely to purchase in the next 12 months, according to a new Chase survey of about 2,000 respondents. Seventy percent still see homeownership as an important step to building wealth, the survey shows.
What You Can Do
Here are some ways real estate pros can commemorate National Homeownership Month.
1. Spread the message. NAR’s toolkit offers graphics you can download and use on social media or as email headers to show your support. Use the free Photofy app to personalize your graphics.
2. Advocate for homeownership. You can take part in a number of NAR advocacy efforts to support homeownership, whether it’s about financing, affordable housing or fair housing. For example, in a recent column for The American Genius, NAR CEO Bob Goldberg shared how Atlanta REALTORS® Immediate Past President Karen Hatcher advocates for fair and affordable housing opportunities in her community. Last year, she was appointed as cochair of the Homeownership Working Group for HouseATL, which is the first local pilot program of the nationwide “3 by 30” initiative to cultivate 3 million new Black homeowners by 2030. NAR serves as a founding member of the initiative, which was launched by the Black Homeownership Collaborative. Real estate professionals also are approaching city or state leaders to advocate for issues like zoning changes, affordable housing development and down payment assistance to enable more people to become homeowners.
3. Spark conversations. NAR’s research team releases studies throughout the year that collects homeownership data and addresses homeownership gaps and where progress can be made. Real estate pros can use the studies to raise conversations about homeownership. Here are just a few NAR has released over the past year:
- Wealth Gains by Income and Racial/Ethinc Group looks at how homeownership can be a catalyst for building wealth for low- and middle-income households and people of color.
- 2022 Obstacles to Home Buying details the most common obstacles in the buying process, broken down by race/ethnicity.
- Congressional District and State Reports provide data on housing in state and congressional districts.
- NAR also offers podcasts with conversations that address homeownership barriers. Listen to an episode of Drive With NAR: The REALTOR® to REALTOR® Series focused on how to harness your role in solving the inventory crisis.
How NAR Is Addressing Homeownership
NAR works closely with federal and state leaders, as well as industry partners, to address some of the main barriers to homeownership, such as housing supply and affordability. The association points to several advocacy successes this year, such as HUD’s February announcement to reduce mortgage insurance premiums and the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s recent decision to rescind a proposed mortgage fee on borrowers with debt-to-income ratios greater than 40% (which was slated to take effect Aug. 1). Both issues were viewed as hurdles to home affordability.
But NAR leaders say more needs to be done. In May, thousands of REALTORS® gathered in Washington, D.C., to share with Capitol Hill policymakers their legislative priorities to improve homeownership access, including:
- Increasing the maximum amount of capital gains a homeowner can exclude on the sale of a principal residence (and annually adjusting it for inflation) as a way to incentivize sellers and boost inventory.
- Attracting private investors to build and rehabilitate homes with tax credits.
- Incentivizing the conversion of unused commercial buildings to residential and mixed-use properties.
- Creating incentives for housing providers to participate in HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program, as well as reauthorizing and increasing funding for HUD’s fair housing enforcement programs.