A “once in a generation” response is needed to address the decades of underinvestment and underbuilding in the housing market, according to a report released on Wednesday by the National Association of REALTORS® and the Rosen Consulting Group. The nation has faced a shortfall of 5.5 million to 6.8 million housing units since 2001.
The report, Housing Is Critical Infrastructure: Social and Economic Benefits of Building More Housing, highlights the causes of housing shortages and offers potential solutions for federal and local level policymakers.
“There is a strong desire for homeownership across this country, but the lack of supply is preventing too many Americans from achieving that dream,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “It’s clear from the findings of this report and from the conditions we’ve observed in the market over the past few years that we’ll need to do something dramatic to close this gap.”
The report calls America’s housing stock situation “dire,” with a chronic shortage of affordable and available homes to support the nation’s population. “A severe lack of new construction and prolonged underinvestment [have led] to an acute shortage of available housing … to the detriment of the health of the public and economy,” the report notes “The scale of underbuilding and the existing demand-supply gap is enormous … and will require a major national commitment to build more housing of all types.”
Policy recommendations outlined in the report call for lawmakers to remove construction barriers that could help incentivize new development. Earlier this year, NAR also released a separate report, State and Local Policy Strategies to Advance Housing Affordability, which recommended that lawmakers pursue solutions through fiscal policy measures, policies aimed at increasing the supply of housing, and zoning and permitting policy reform.
“A number of factors from the past 20 years are responsible for the massive housing investment gap we see in America today, but what’s important now is that we find solutions that will get us out of this crisis and provide more stability in future markets,” said Charlie Oppler, NAR president. He said increases in housing construction not only add much-needed housing inventory but also could add an estimated 2.8 million American jobs and $50 billion in new, nationwide tax revenue. “Additional public funding and policy incentives for construction will very clearly provide huge benefits to our nation’s economy, and our work to close this gap will be particularly impactful for lower-income households, households of color, and millennials,” Oppler said.