Housing impacts all voters, but it wasn't a hot issue in this election says Redfin's Nela Richardson. Richardson calls for a "a new chapter in housing policy" under President-elect Trump that will embrace growth.
Recent academic research has surfaced five critical issues that define the state of housing in America. These issues highlight the need for disruptive federal housing policy. First, the housing market is under-supplied and the rent is too damn high (we didn’t need academics to tell us that one). Second, economic mobility depends on geography yet economically integrated neighborhoods are rare. Finally, local land-use regulation increases economic inequality and can threaten U.S. productivity and economic growth at a national scale.
America lacks a national housing plan. Cities are growing, but the average American finds it hard to move to the cities where the jobs are because they're too expensive. Economic mobility is a problem.
Here are some ways the new Trump Administration can disrupt America’s housing policy to serve the needs of the middle and working class families.
One, re-frame the housing crisis from an affordability issue to an economic one, with regional and national importance. If the election has taught us anything, it’s that words matter. The new administration can use words to push the debate from old language and old problems to new realities and new solutions. As long as housing is framed as somebody else’s problem, we will never give housing its proper place as central to the economic prosperity of our country.
Two, reward local disruption. One of the the most incendiary foes of livability and inclusionary growth in America’s cities is local land use regulation. Local homeowners and influencers seeking to protect property values vote time and time again for exclusionary policies that keep people from moving into their neighborhoods and make land too extensive for all but the most high end of development.
Three, for pete’s sake end the mortgage interest rate deduction. This tax policy helps those who need it the least, high-income homeowners who itemize their tax returns. The Trump administration should tie the deduction to incomes or geographies so that middle class home buyers and low-income neighborhoods benefit the most and not the least.
There’s a window of opportunity here, while mortgage rates are still low to make sweeping changes on who benefits from this policy. Mortgage interest rates have been extremely low the past four years (an average under 4 percent compared to over 10 percent 30 years ago). And because of chronically low supply, we’ve seen more cash buyers and investors in the market, which means that the interest rate deduction hasn’t added up to a lot of money for most high-income families anyway.