It’s no exaggeration to say that our industry has taken a pounding over the past year. Between the subprime meltdown, the resulting credit crunch, and a sharp decline in new-home construction and sales, housing has been hit with a series of body blows.
But note this, and note it well: The home building industry is not down for the count, and we’re not throwing in the towel.
We’re using every means at our disposal to convince Congress, the administration, and regulators to take meaningful action to jumpstart the economy and pull it back from the brink of recession.
Of course, that was the intent of the economic stimulus package enacted in February, but that legislation just isn’t enough to get the housing market off the ropes. Housing needs more, and it needs it now.
Policy adopted at the recent International Builders’ Show (IBS) sets forth the measures that we believe are necessary to get the housing market and the economy moving again.
In particular, it calls on the Federal Reserve to continue to cut interest rates to spur economic growth. The Fed has signaled its willingness to continue trimming interest rates, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide information about the housing market and the economy to the Federal Reserve Board when necessary.
The policy adopted at the IBS also urges Congress to:
Create a menu of tax credits and other incentives to stimulate home sales and help reduce the inventory of unsold homes on the market.
Raise the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac conforming loan limit for two years instead of one, and link this change to full reform of the housing government-sponsored enterprises. This will increase the availability of mortgage money in high-cost markets.
Modernize the FHA so that it can provide loans for first-time and moderate-income home buyers who otherwise might not be able to find the financing they need.
Allow cities and states to issue tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds to refinance existing loans to help troubled borrowers.
Let businesses carry back net operating losses for five years to save jobs and help businesses weather the economic storm.
Allow withdrawals from IRAs for the purchase of a first home.
The NAHB will be working hard to convince Congress to enact these measures, and participation from the grassroots level will help our effort immeasurably. We all know that there’s strength in numbers, and members of Congress pay close attention when constituents come knocking at their door.
For that reason, I urge you to help us in this effort and participate in the NAHB’s annual Legislative Conference on Wednesday, April 30.
I’ve participated in many annual Legislative Conferences, and I can tell you that it is a very meaningful and empowering experience. Members of Congress respect their constituents, and they respect the NAHB and listen closely to what we have to say.
So please come to Washington and participate in the Legislative Conference. I can guarantee that it will be a positive experience. Equally important, your participation could tip the scales in our favor as we seek measures to counteract some of the most difficult conditions our industry has ever experienced.
For information about the NAHB’s Legislative Conference, go to NAHB.org/legcon.