The The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has been concerned over the fact that the homeownership rate has fallen, while the national debt has gone up. According to NAR’s second quarter 2016 Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey, around two-thirds of non-homeowners with student debt shared they are not comfortable paying for a mortgage.
During the 2016 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, they held a Regulatory Issues Forum featuring a panel of speakers, such as U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro, who spoke on regulatory modifications that would promote more home ownership opportunities for younger people. In addition, the NAR Board of Directors adopted this policy:
NAR should strongly support policy proposals to allow student loan borrowers to refinance into lower interest rates and to streamline income-based repayment programs. Additionally, NAR supports policy proposals that promote student loan simplification, clarity and education. NAR also shall ensure that mortgage underwriting guidelines related to student loan debt are standardized and do not impair homeownership.
The most pertinent debt in American households is student-loan and housing debts. Based on a study from the Congressional Budget Office, using numbers previously reported by the Federal Reserve, they wrote:
The share of families in debt … remained almost unchanged between 1989 and 2007 and then increased 50 percent between 2007 and 2013.
Also, the report states that by 2013, 12 percent of households had a negative net worth, compared to 8 percent of households in 2007. Plus, there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor–this is due to an increase in underemployment, low-paying jobs and technology taking over jobs. Moreover, a college education and homeownership were once off limits to large segments of the population.
So, many families did not borrow for these types of reasons. Yet, that changed in an optimistic era when more Americans found opportunities to borrow more money to fund their aspirations. Still, the homeownership rate has fallen to a 50-year low. Due to student debt and underemployment, there is a rising number of young adults still living with their parents.
Also, in the NAR’s survey of consumers (the Housing Opportunity and Market Experience survey), 87% said homeownership is part of their American Dream. Homeownership matters because it offers wealth accumulation for owners. As of 2013, the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances states that the average homeowner’s net worth was $195,400, while that of renter’s was $5,400 as of 2013. Homeownership is also good for the economy as many often sell their starter home, and trade up, after around 10 years.
Then, there is spending on lawn care, furniture, home remodeling and more. NAR calculates that one new job is supported from every two home sales. Nonetheless, NAR reports that among homeowners, 31 percent say student debt is impacting their ability to sell their existing home and move to a different home.