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National Association of REALTORS® President John Smaby was invited to attend a White House event last week highlighting housing affordability concerns in communities across the country. Smaby, who was joined by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and other senior administration officials, issued the following statement after the roundtable concluded:

“Housing affordability is one of the most significant problems facing this nation, our economy and potential homebuyers in communities everywhere, and the lack of housing supply is only adding to the problem. The National Association of REALTORS® thanks Secretary Carson, the President and the administration for hosting today’s roundtable, which was a terrific opportunity to bring together stakeholders to share and brainstorm solutions. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the White House to ensure the American Dream remains attainable for all those who wish to become homeowners.”

According to an NAR release, lack of housing inventory is considered the main factor driving up home prices. Although new-home construction has accelerated, it is still not enough to accommodate increased housing demand. NAR has commended the administration for its focus on removing regulatory barriers exacerbating these problems.

This summer, the Federal Housing Administration finalized new condominium loan policies that should yield thousands of new homeownership opportunities and help alleviate affordability restraints, as condominiums are often the most practical option for first-time homebuyers, small families and those in urban areas. Most recently, on October 28, HUD and the Department of Justice announced its decision to ease the use of the False Claims Act. NAR publicly stated that it believes this change will “help more consumers access low down payment loans and ensure a wide range of financial institutions will offer Federal Housing Administration-backed loans in the future.”

Earlier this year, President Trump announced the creation of a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, which facilitates the development of new strategies to secure housing opportunities for everyone in this country. NAR has provided background to the White House on a number of these barriers along with sensible solutions to reduce their respective impacts.

According to the White House, more than 25 percent of the cost of a new home is the direct result of federal, state and local regulations, with the price tag even reaching up to 42 percent for some new multifamily construction.

“Regulations are creating excessive costs that are holding back the development of needed affordable housing,” the White House said earlier this year, noting Census Bureau data showing that only seven homes were built for every 10 households formed from 2010-2016. “Many of the markets with the most severe shortages in affordable housing have the most restrictive state and local regulatory barriers to development.”

Regardless, any efforts to improve housing affordability and accessibility must be led by state and local governments, NAR argues, while encouraging local experts to weigh in on zoning laws, building codes and other policies that spur free market production of affordable housing units.

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

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