What They’re Saying: Highlights from NAR’s Housing Affordability Forum

WASHINGTON (February 12, 2020) – Over 300 government officials, academic experts and industry stakeholders gathered last Thursday in Washington for the National Association of Realtors®’ second annual Policy Forum. Panelists across a half dozen sessions offered perspective on the lack of housing supply, mortgage credit access and the racial homeownership gap. The full day’s events can be viewed here.

“With housing affordability set to be one of the defining policy issues of this decade, it is imperative for NAR… to lead discussions that will generate solutions to this problem,” NAR President Vince Malta said after the forum. Here are a few highlights from last Thursday’s discussions:

Pam Patenaude, former deputy secretary at HUD

“Housing is not necessarily headline news every day. I’m pleased that this administration has embraced this challenge [of housing affordability]. The President has created the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers, and the Realtors® are playing a huge role by responding to their Request for Information…

“The Realtors® play an enormous role in communities across the country… [Even though] their day job is a hard job, they make time to make housing affordability an issue in their communities and share their strength.”

Remarks prepared for Brian Montgomery, Federal Housing Commissioner

“We understand from the Realtors® that there are a number of suggestions for HUD and FHA to remove impediments and improve incentives for affordable housing, including rules related to private flood insurance, HUD counseling, Opportunity Zones and the recently-passed Condo rule…

“Rest assured, our commitment to reduce the affordability gap, increase the supply and ensure we can focus limited resources on solving other aspects of both demand-side and supply-side deficiencies are paramount.”

Stockton Williams, executive director, National Council of State Housing Finance Agencies

“I really appreciate everyone at the National Association of Realtors® using this forum this year to talk about housing affordability. I think everybody knows that when NAR’s members get organized and focused on a policy issue, things in Washington happen.”

Steve Francks, CEO of Washington REALTORS®

“Rather than focusing on just one area of this massive problem, [the Washington Realtors®] decided to group together a range of legislation that addressed housing, from [serving] the most vulnerable populations, to addressing the infrastructure, to condo reform, to incentives to increase density and supply. We wanted to… deliver a message of reform and market-based solutions that addressed the housing shortage over the entire spectrum.”

Julia Gordon, president of the National Community Stabilization Trust

“This is such an important conversation, and what I see today is a lot of creativity out there, as well as some big and very, very wide coalitions working together… So, thanks to everyone at the Realtors® for being such a great partner on so many projects right now.”

Muriel Bowser, District of Columbia Mayor

“You mentioned our commitment to local funding and funding gaps for building new units. We’ve had a tool in the District [for about 15 years], our Housing Production Trust Fund, where we [dedicate] a portion of our deed and recordation taxes to the Housing Production Trust Fund – so thank you, Realtors®, for making sure that part of our economy continues to churn... Because we’ve been consistent, our development partners tell us they are ready to build more units because they know the city is going to be there. We have created more demand for HPTF, which means more units.”

Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors®

“Home sales – even with record low unemployment and high job creation – are not breaking higher. We need to ensure there is an adequate [tax] incentive to bring more new homes to the market… If homeownership isn’t rising, the wealth divide will expand between the haves and have-nots. [And If the homeownership rate continues to lag behind historical norms] one has to wonder: Are we turning into a renter nation?”

Access NAR and Rosen Consulting Group’s White Paper, unveiled at the February 6 Policy Forum, reiterating the case for homeownership while calling on Congress to restore homeownership incentives in the U.S. tax code. This research found that, since 2013, the median family net worth for all homeowners has increased by nearly 15%, while net worth declined approximately 9% for renter families over the same period.

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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