There’s a disturbing disconnect between what voters want regarding housing and the actions of policymakers in Washington.

And if the housing market is to revive and survive in any recognizable form, it’s up to us—the nation’s home builders— to drive home the message that the will of the people is for housing to be a national priority.

Let me explain. The results of a survey conducted for the NAHB in early May by two of the nation’s preeminent polling firms paint a picture of an electorate deeply committed to homeownership and opposed to any changes to the mortgage interest deduction and other housing-related tax code measures. They also believe that it is “appropriate and reasonable” for the federal government to provide tax incentives to encourage homeownership.

In direct opposition to these strongly held beliefs, numerous proposals being touted on Capitol Hill or making their way through the labyrinthine regulatory process would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, require larger down payments, or otherwise strip housing of its status as a national priority.

As a primary stakeholder in the fate of the housing industry, we cannot sit back and passively await whatever draconian measures a disconnected Congress and oblivious bureaucracy dish out. We have to make it clear to policymakers that the voters want housing to be a national priority.

Fortunately, the survey results provide ample information to support that claim. Noted political analyst Charlie Cook writes a column for the National Journal, a top Washington insider publication. Of the survey results, he said, “The clear message is that owning a home is among the values that Americans most cherish—an important part of the American Dream.”

Another clear message from the survey, which was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and by Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C., is that 57 percent of voters say they would be less likely to support a candidate for Congress who wanted to eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction.

Among the other survey results:

? 71 percent oppose proposals to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, and 63 percent oppose proposals to reduce it.

? 75 percent say that owning a home is the best long-term investment they can make; 75 percent also say that owning a home is worth the ups and downs of the housing market.

? 73 percent who do not now own a home say it is a goal of theirs to eventually buy a home.

? 95 percent of homeowners say they are happy with their decision to own a home and believe that owning their own home is important.

? 80 percent of homeowners would advise a close friend or a family member just starting out to buy a home.

By Bob Nielsen

Chairman of the Board, NAHB

Washington, D.C.
By Bob Nielsen Chairman of the Board, NAHB Washington, D.C.

This is powerful information, and the NAHB is doing its utmost to spread the word to policymakers that tampering with the mortgage interest deduction is playing with fire. The bottom line is that policymakers who ignore the will of the people do so at their own peril. More importantly, they do so at the peril of the nation’s economy, the housing industry, and homeownership, one of the nation’s most cherished core values.

This national survey of 2,000 likely 2012 voters was conducted May 3–9, 2011 by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C. It has a margin of error of +2.19%.

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