The nation’s homebuilders are letting the political conventions know that they, too, have a platform.
The National Association of Home Builders came up with the top 10 points that delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions and candidates for political office need to know about the housing market.
Here they are:
10. Housing is leading the nation’s economic
Home builders constructed more than 1.8 million new homes and apartment units in 2003, and a record 1.1 million new homes were sold last year. Production and sales are expected to exceed those figures in 2004. To sustain this level of production, a healthy overall economy with low interest rates and rising real incomes is absolutely critical. In 2003, housing activity accounted for 16 cents of every dollar spent in the U.S. economy.
9. Housing creates good paying jobs.
The 215,000 members of NAHB employ about 8 million Americans, making the housing industry one of the nation’s largest employers.
8. Housing generates wealth.
Housing accounts for 32 percent of household wealth in the nation. Home owners have a total of about $8 trillion in home equity, which is often used as a nest egg for retirement or to cover college expenses.
7. A major housing gap.
While the national homeownership rate stands at a record 68 percent, millions of working families are still struggling to obtain decent shelter. The homeownership rate for minorities lags 25 points below white households. In addition, more than 14 million still spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing or live in seriously substandard housing.
6. The job of housing America is far from complete.
Home builders will have to construct 18 million new home and apartment units over the next decade just to keep up with rising population and household growth. Financing this housing will require $3 trillion annually in new mortgage loan originations. Such a growth rate will require strong primary and secondary mortgage markets and an ongoing commitment by the federal government to support the housing finance sector.
5. Growing need for affordable housing for America’s workers.
As the number of immigrant, minority and female-headed households continues to grow over the next decade, demand for starter homes and affordable rental housing will increase. Unfortunately, more and more working families - including teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers and other public servants — are being priced out of the local markets where they work and they are commuting two hours or more each day to work.
4. Smart growth.
New household formations are expected to average between 1.3 and 1.6 million per year during the next decade. To satisfy this robust housing demand, local and state governments need to enact sound land-use policies and reform and streamline the zoning and regulatory process. Sensible growth management policies will meet a community’s housing needs and allow for construction of a mix of different types of housing in various price ranges. At the federal level, policy makers need to establish a more balanced environmental agenda that supports the twin goals of providing for a clean and healthy environment and meeting the nation’s housing needs.
3. Credit is the lifeblood of the housing market.
Maintaining an adequate flow of credit is fundamentally important. During the next decade, America’s families will need 125 million mortgage loans, or an average of $3 trillion annually, for home purchases and refinancings. Therefore, policy makers must guard against any backdoor attempts to alter the regulations affecting the housing government sponsored enterprises in a way that impedes the ability of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan banks to provide lenders with new mortgage products and ensure an affordable and steady flow of credit for home mortgages.
2. Meeting the housing needs of the underserved.
The federal government should also support special programs and tax incentives that promote homeownership or help low- and moderate-income families buy or rent decent housing. Housing initiatives in Congress that enjoy broad bipartisan support, such as the homeownership tax credit legislation, the FHA zero downpayment program and improvements in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, need to be enacted into law.
1. Elevate housing as a national priority.
Housing - like other basic human needs - should be a top national priority. By reaffirming this commitment to housing, the next Congress and Administration can help fulfill the promise of the Housing Act of 1949, which set a goal of “a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family.”