News & Press: Opinion Editorials

Why it is Important to All Americans that President-Elect Trump Focuses on Homeownership

Monday, January 9, 2017  
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For most of this election season, we were hoping that the candidates and at least one debate question touched on something that was glaringly obvious to us who were watching at home... our homes.
 
The lack of focus on how federal policies will impact us where we rest our heads each night was frustrating. We had hoped that the candidates would share with us their positions on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage; the proper role of government in supporting the housing market; the best way to manage consumer protection efforts; and views on how to help homeowners get back on their feet after the housing crisis or a natural disaster (of which there were several during the campaign season).
 
This year, our candidates did not really weigh in on the issues that impact us every day as we open and shut the front door to our homes. We know that when we open our doors we are shooing away mosquitoes, checking The Weather Channel, and fretting about water quality and many of us don’t live in Florida, Louisiana, California, or Michigan where those have been real issues. Most of us are just normal homeowners who wants to know how our government will react if our community is struck by something horrible like a flood, hurricane, forest fire, poisoned drinking water, or the Zika virus. These are the kinds of location-based issues that millions of homeowners are facing right now and it is just not being talked about enough.
 
Furthermore, we are not terribly sure we know how our government plans to support our most important financial asset: our homes. As we look around our neighborhoods, our baby boomer neighbors are thinking about selling their homes now that their kids are all grown up, but they are also wondering if there is a pipeline of young families who are going to be able to buy their home. They want to know that if they decide to sell their house, or refinance it, that there will be an advantageous economic environment to do it.
 
In our campaign season, we really didn’t hear how the candidates planned to tackle the ability of the market to protect home values or find ways for housing finance to keep pace with demand. We haven’t really been able to pin down the President-elect’s view on these issues and we find ourselves asking, “How will he govern?”
 
Addressing the concerns of the approximate 75 million homeowners and the 33 million aspiring homeowners should be a priority for the new Administration. These sheer numbers alone demonstrate why it is important for an organized approach. This year, we hope President-Elect Trump lets us know that the following key homeownership issues will be addressed once he assumes office:
 
• Preservation of the 30-year fixed rate, fully pre-payable mortgage.
• Wide availability of low down payment financing.
• Tax deductions: real estate tax deduction, mortgage interest, deduction and mortgage insurance deduction.
• Construction to meet the need of the rising tide of new households being formed.
• Expanded opportunity through the use of alternative credit scoring models.
• Affordable homeownership counseling.
 
While we are at it, let’s hold the Congress’ feet to the fire, as well. In the latest government spending legislation, they had the opportunity to find ways to allow hundreds of thousands of creditworthy borrowers get the green light to an affordable and sustainable mortgage if only they instructed the mortgage giants at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA to use more modern alternative credit scoring models. Moreover, the Congress has been talking for months and years about how to improve the current housing finance system. While we applaud their modest work on the issue, we don’t think there has been enough focus on how everyday homeowners benefit from changes they have suggested and much more work needs to be done in this area.
 
Effective housing policy changes that meet the needs of existing and aspiring homeowners will result in significant job growth and improved economic prosperity for everyone. Soon after the Inauguration, we hope that President Trump will embrace current homeowners and aspiring homeowners and make their priorities his priorities. If he needs reminding, we plan to be there each step of the way advocating for a better, brighter financial future for each of you and for the Members of the America’s Homeowner Alliance.