Testifying before a Senate panel yesterday, National Association of Realtors President Ron Phipps told members of Congress that sustainable homeownership must be the goal when considering future federal housing policies.
“As the leading advocate for home ownership, NAR wants to ensure public policies that promote responsible, sustainable home ownership and that any changes to current programs and incentives don’t jeopardize a housing and economic recovery,” Phipps told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Phipps said the housing market is starting to see signs of recovery; however, the real issue facing the nation right now is that many Americans can’t find meaningful work to support their families, and housing is essential to creating jobs.
“Homeownership is a pillar of our economy; our research suggests that home sales in this country generate more than 2.5 million private-sector jobs in an average year. For every two homes sold, a job is created,” Phipps said.
He added that, while housing alone may not pull America out of this stalled economy, hampering its recovery will severely and negatively impact the nation’s recovery.
“Owning a home contributes to the strength of the nation’s economy and is still one of the best ways for individuals to build long-term wealth; therefore, we need public policies that support home ownership. Making it harder for families to afford safe mortgages does not further the goal of a housing or economic recovery,” he said.
Phipps agreed that reforms are required to prevent a recurrence of the housing market meltdown, but raising fees and increasing down payment requirements for well-qualified, creditworthy borrowers places an unnecessary burden on many families, especially those in high-cost urban markets.
“Home buyers need a wide variety of traditionally safe, well-underwritten products with flexible down payment requirements, said Phipps. “Overly stringent requirements will turn away 10 to 15 percent of otherwise qualified buyers who have a demonstrable ability to repay – that’s approximately 500,000 home sales that won’t happen, further delaying the housing and economic recovery.”
“We need to keep housing first on the nation’s public policy agenda to ensure that housing and national economic recoveries are sustained, and that anyone in this country who aspires to own a home and can afford to do so is not denied the opportunity to build their future through home ownership,” Phipps said.
The National Association of Realtors, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.