A widely held view among developers, builders, lenders, investors, etc., is that government risk aversion went way overboard coming out of the Great Recession, and that's been holding back housing and the economy.
There's data loaded for bear as evidence. A National Association of Realtors study on worrying U.S. homeownership trends estimates that if housing bounced back as it should have--i.e. without crushing overreach from regulators holding it back--the sector would have added $300 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016, with a GDP impact of 1.8%.
Moreover, a new NAR study suggests that if a normal housing rebound had occurred, there'd have been organically-driven starts of an additional 3.7 million homes across the past eight years, more than double what actually happened.
It's hard not to imagine where we'd be now if all that production and productivity had taken place in typical post-recession fashion.
Instead, housing's recovery has had to crawl and claw through conditions and circumstances seemingly inimical to its very existence. Unpacking the root causes from the effects, seeing one root cause as separate and distinct from others, and understanding the root cause of the root causes have been problematic.
So, old Uncle Sam--who's always up in everybody's business, taxing this and restricting that and requiring this and making a new code to comply with here and banning activity there--gets blamed for being the bad guy behind all of the negatives. He's the reason the economy's sluggish. He's the reason deals don't get done, money can't move, businesses' hands are tied, people can't start companies or hire workers, or get loans.
Now, the complexion is changing, the barriers--real and imagined--are being lowered, and a new policy era is getting traction, focused at least initially on undoing everything Uncle Sam was preoccupied doing over the last eight plus years.
Fact is, for housing and real estate to work well and normally, they must tolerate certain amounts of risk. The private sector only ever fully engages in business opportunities when competitive edge goes to ones whose risks are both bolder and smarter than others'. Overregulation has held back some fair amount of this investment, reduced the pool of active players, and stunted the overall growth of capital put in place in the sector because competition has been thwarted.
New days, new risk tolerance levels, and new rewards to those who're successful at managing those risks, are at hand.
We're starting to see signs everywhere. Here's two examples (note, both of these articles are behind the WSJ paywall ... please email me if that's a problem):
The question is, have lenders, investors, builders, and developers learned enough, and do they remember enough to manage themselves as the government policy pendulum swings back to a position that encourages bold risk-taking among American companies?