Support Your Fellow Builders by Contacting Congress on Wednesday, January 7!
CALL TO ACTION
On Wednesday, January 7, builders from across the country will converge on Capitol Hill to meet with key members of the House and Senate to discuss the Fix Housing First Proposal and push for its inclusion in the economic stimulus bill being crafted by Congress and the incoming Obama Administration.
In order to make sure their message is heard loud and clear, we need to add the full weight of the association to this advocacy effort. Please join your fellow builders on Wednesday, January 7, by calling 1-866-924-NAHB (6242) and telling your senators and member of Congress:
1. The national economy is in a deep recession and urgent action must be taken to shore up the economy.
2. Only by stimulating the demand for housing can the national economy be saved.
3. Perfecting the homebuyer tax credit created by Congress last summer and creating a short-term mortgage rate subsidy are proven housing demand incentives.
4. These solutions must be included in the economic stimulus package being considered by Congress.
The Problem: Falling home values are at the core of the current economic crisis
The impact on the national economy of home building, and housing in general, in good times and bad, should not be underestimated. The historic increase in foreclosures, tightened mortgage qualifying criteria, and general declining economic conditions have significantly cut demand for housing. Housing wealth is the primary source of savings for most households and a key driver of consumer spending.
As housing has slowed, so has the national economy. In recent quarters, the decline in home building activity has subtracted a percentage point or more from annualized GDP growth. These facts suggest that the recovery from the current economic crisis must begin in the housing sector. Without addressing the crisis in home prices and residential construction, no recovery effort will be successful. The key to this effort is stimulating housing demand.
The Solution: Targeted incentives to encourage Americans to buy homes again.
In 2008, Congress adopted a measure providing first-time home buyers with a tax credit of up to $7,500. While well-intentioned, the legislation failed to stimulate or stabilize the housing market. This can be attributed to three main factors: the tax credit was really a loan that had to be recaptured; it was only available to first-time home buyers; and $7,500 was not enough to entice people to buy. The nation’s current financial crisis has outpaced the ability of the homebuyer credit, as currently structured, to turn the housing market around.
NAHB proposes to build upon the foundation of the homebuyer tax credit by perfecting its structure and scope. First, eliminate the repayment requirement. Second, make the credit larger by increasing the credit amount on a sliding scale between $10,000 and $22,000. Third, make the credit available to all homebuyers. Finally, in its new form the eligibility period for the credit should be extended to December 31, 2009.
In addition to an enhanced homebuyer credit, NAHB is advocating for a short-term mortgage subsidy for purchases made in 2009. The Treasury Department is reportedly considering a program to provide 4.5 percent, below-market rate mortgages. While this program is a welcome first-step, the depth of the recession demands a more aggressive response. Specifically, NAHB proposes a federally-subsidized, 30-year fixed rate 2.99 percent mortgage for homes purchased before June 30, 2009, and a 3.99 percent mortgage rate for homes purchased before December 31, 2009. The rate subsidy would only apply to principal residences. This dual strategy of a homebuyer tax credit and a mortgage subsidy was used successfully during the 1970’s housing crisis, which was fed by excess inventory and falling home prices.
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