When you’re offering congratulations to newly minted graduates and toasting June brides, here’s something else to celebrate: June is National Homeownership Month.
It’s a time when we mark homeownership’s importance in the fabric of American life, note the many benefits that it provides for our communities, and acknowledge its importance to a healthy, vibrant economy.
For most families, homeownership is an ideal. It’s a goal they work hard to achieve and something they value greatly. And despite the effects of the Great Recession, it remains a long-term goal for most families. They know that homeownership promotes stability and can be critical to creating wealth and providing financial security.
Homeownership also is crucial to a strong and prosperous nation. New-home construction buoys the economy, providing jobs for millions of Americans and generating revenues for all levels of government.
These are all things to celebrate. Yet even as we celebrate homeownership and the many benefits it provides, we need to be aware of the undercurrents that threaten to make it more difficult—perhaps even impossible—for many Americans to achieve this cherished ideal.
There’s no question that homeownership isn’t for everyone. Many people don’t want to own a home; others may lack the means or be at a point in their life where renting is preferable to buying.
But whether their preference is owning or renting, everyone should be able to choose the home that best meets their needs. And if that choice is homeownership, then long-term fixed rate financing must be available to creditworthy borrowers at affordable rates.
In the wake of the housing market crisis, it became obvious that the nation’s housing finance system must be restructured. However, the task has languished, and one of the few things that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle agree on these days is that housing finance reform is long overdue.
The NAHB supports a solution that gradually would wind-down the government sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, into a system where the private sector is dominant and the federal government’s role is clear, but its exposure is limited. Federal support would be limited to catastrophic situations where carefully selected levels of private capital and insurance reserves would be depleted before any taxpayer funds were employed to shore up the mortgage market.
By closely defining the federal government’s role in housing finance and including private sector investors, such a system would:
•Ensure that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages remain readily available and affordable for creditworthy borrowers.
•Encourage more thorough, consistent, and responsible mortgage underwriting.
•Increase the amount of private capital in the marketplace.
•Protect American taxpayers.
•Promote stable and liquid mortgage markets for single-family and multifamily housing.
Bipartisan legislation currently being considered in the Senate, the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014, would meet these goals and breathe new life into the housing sector by providing a consistent and affordable supply of mortgage credit for single-family and multifamily housing.
The NAHB supports this legislation and will continue to urge Congress to move it forward. So that we all may continue to celebrate National Homeownership Month every June, I ask you to do the same.