The nation’s housing markets gained traction in 2013, but lingering uncertainties will prevent a full housing market recovery, according to 2014 National Association of Realtors President Steve Brown in a news conference today during the 2013 realtors Conference and Expo.
“As the leading advocate for America’s property owners, realtors know that homeownership benefits individuals and families, strengthens our communities, and is integral to our nation’s economy,” said Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc. Realtors in Dayton, Ohio. “Critical housing industry issues must be addressed before a full housing market recovery can occur. The time is now for policymakers to make housing a priority and to tackle the difficult decisions about the future of the housing sector; otherwise uncertainty will continue to plague the market.”
Brown said realtors have worked closely with lawmakers and federal agency officials to advocate public policies that promote responsible, sustainable homeownership and to lay the groundwork for a better mortgage finance system. This includes establishing critical lending protections for consumers, reducing risky loan products and creating prudent underwriting standards for lenders. However, a better and sounder housing finance system requires Congress to move ahead with reforms to the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“The housing market is showing solid signs of recovery, but until difficult decisions are made about tax reform and the future of mortgage finance markets, a full real estate and economic recovery will remain exceedingly difficult,” said Brown.
NAR has urged lawmakers to move forward to enact comprehensive legislation that would restructure the secondary mortgage market with a government guarantee. A government guarantee is critical to ensuring that creditworthy borrowers have access to credit during all market conditions and guaranteeing the availability of a wide range of safe, reliable mortgage products like 15- and 30-year fixed-rate loans. Brown said reforming the secondary mortgage market will also help bring greater amounts of private capital into the mortgage finance market.
“Consumers must have access to affordable mortgage products so they can attain the American dream of homeownership and begin to build wealth over the long term,” said Brown. “Realtors stand ready to work with members of Congress to design an efficient and regulated secondary mortgage market model that encourages the return of private capital and serves the nation and its 75 million homeowners now and into the future.”
Brown said now is also the time for lawmakers to stand up for homeownership and the value that it brings to the country by fostering communities, creating social stability, and helping build long-term wealth. He said lawmakers must preserve property and homeownership tax policies as they consider federal tax reform.
“Congress should do no harm to homeowners or housing markets by maintaining current federal tax policies,” said Brown. “Reducing or eliminating the current tax treatment would simply raise taxes on homeowners, who already pay 80 to 90 percent of U.S. federal income taxes.
“The nation cannot have a robust housing recovery, and therefore an economic recovery, until these important policy issues are addressed. The role of a realtor goes far beyond the real estate transaction. As congressional leaders move ahead with reforms, realtors are actively engaged in and committed to protecting America’s current and future homeowners and the homes in which they make memories and build their futures.”