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NAR Letter to HUD Focuses on Affordable Housing Solutions

How can the U.S. solve its affordable-housing crisis? In response to a HUD request for information, NAR mailed a list of suggestions. They range from Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac reform to improved mortgage underwriting and federal support for high-density zoning.

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) is urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to consider a series of policy proposals that NAR believes will address housing affordability problems.

In response to HUD’s Request for Information on policies that “raise the costs of affordable housing and contribute to the current low housing inventory,” NAR reiterated its support of federal policies that, among others, increase affordable housing supplies, preserve the mortgage interest deduction and stabilize the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs, notably Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) to ensure liquidity in mortgage markets.

“While housing affordability is impacted by factors like restrictive local zoning regulations and increased labor and material costs, America’s Realtors commend the administration for steps it has already taken to address the housing affordability crisis, including finalizing the FHA condo rule, restructuring the Waters of the U.S. regulation and creating the Qualified Opportunity Zone program,” says NAR President Vince Malta.

On Jan. 1, 2020, NAR sent a letter to HUD outlining the changes that Realtors believe can help boost affordable housing in the U.S.

While noting that “dramatic increases in home prices and a lack of housing inventory is caused by many factors outside the control of the real estate industry,” NAR’s letter suggests federal policy reforms that would incentivize private sector development.

Key issues highlighted in NAR’s letter

  • Mortgage market liquidity – Refocus the mission of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on liquidity in the mortgage markets for low- and middle-income homebuyers.
  • Improved underwriting criteria – Consider whether underwriting criteria are unduly restricting access to mortgage credit for first-time homebuyers saddled with student loan debt.
  • Incentivize YIMBY – Foster a “Yes in My Backyard” market to encourage states and localities receiving federal dollars to reform high-density zoning and other land-use rules.
  • HUD counseling programs – Develop HUD programs to increase public awareness about the availability and value of homebuyer education and counseling programs.
  • Community Development Block Grant funds – Encourage localities to periodically update housing and development plans to address barriers to housing affordability.
  • Oppose rent control – Studies show that rent control destabilizes housing markets and results in a dearth of new construction and minimal maintenance on the existing housing stock.

“Although NAR believes there is no single solution to promoting affordability and increasing housing supplies,” the letter concludes, the association holds “that a broad-based policy approach to bring safe, decent and affordable housing can be achieved.”

© 2020 Florida Realtors®