NAR Asks HUD to Consider Potential Solutions to Housing Affordability Crisis

WASHINGTON (February 4, 2020) – The National Association of Realtors® is urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development to consider a series of policy proposals it believes will address housing affordability constraints and allow industry players to provide safe and affordable housing options where they are needed most. Over 400 people are expected in attendance Thursday when NAR hosts a day-long Policy Forum focused on national housing affordability and inventory concerns.

In response to HUD’s Request for Information on policies that “raise the costs of affordable housing and contribute to the current low housing inventory,” NAR reiterated its support of federal policies that, among others, increase affordable housing supplies, preserve the mortgage interest deduction and stabilize the Government Sponsored Enterprises to ensure liquidity in mortgage markets.

“While housing affordability is impacted by factors like restrictive local zoning regulations and increased labor and material costs, America’s Realtors® commend the administration for steps it has already taken to address the housing affordability crisis, including finalizing the FHA condo rule, restructuring the Waters of the U.S. regulation and creating the Qualified Opportunity Zone program,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco.

Barriers do remain, however, and while noting “dramatic increases in home prices and a lack of housing inventory is caused by many factors outside the control of the real estate industry,” NAR’s January 31 letter suggests federal policy reforms that would incentivize private sector development. Key issues highlighted in the letter include:

  • Mortgage market liquidity – Refocus the mission of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on liquidity in the mortgage markets for low- and middle-income homebuyers.
  • Improved underwriting criteria – Consider whether underwriting criteria are unduly restricting access to mortgage credit for first-time homebuyers saddled with student loan debt.
  • Incentivize YIMBY – Foster a “Yes in My Backyard” market to encourage states and localities receiving federal dollars to reform high-density zoning and other land-use rules.
  • HUD Counseling Programs – HUD should develop programs to increase public awareness about the availability and value of homebuyer education and counseling programs.
  • Community Development Block Grant Funds – Encourage localities to periodically update housing and development plans to address barriers to housing affordability.
  • Oppose Rent Control – Studies have shown that rent control destabilizes housing markets and results in a dearth of new construction and minimal maintenance on the existing housing stock.

“Although NAR believes there is no single solution to promoting affordability and increasing housing supplies,” the letter concludes, the association holds “that a broad-based policy approach to bring safe, decent and affordable housing can be achieved.”

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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