Setting the Record Straight on Homeownership

Filed in Homeownership by on February 11, 2015 2 Comments

hispanic coupleIn a Feb. 5 op-ed column, Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane attacked U.S. policies that support homeownership, including the 30-year mortgage. “The simple fact is that government and business sold millions of people an American Dream that could not survive a sour economy, with nightmarish results for them and for the country,” Lane said.

In a forceful rebuttal, NAHB Chairman Tom Woods laid out the facts and set the record straight in a letter to the editor published in The Post on Feb. 11. Here it is:

TAKING EXCEPTION

Homeownership is still a worthy goal for Americans

In his Feb. 5 op-ed column, “The housing fairy tale,” which slammed U.S. housing policy as akin to Soviet-style central planning, Charles Lane completely missed the mark.

Contrary to Mr. Lane’s assertions, the homeownership goals of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were appropriate; the overzealous implementation that led to lax lending standards and the housing downturn should be criticized.

There’s good reason why U.S. housing policy for the past 80 years has been designed to encourage — not mandate — homeownership. The largest asset for most middle-class households is the equity in their home, not a stock portfolio. Most Americans aspire to homeownership because they know it builds strong communities, is a great long-term investment and is a primary source of wealth and financial security. Indeed, the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances shows the median wealth of homeowners is $195,400 vs. $5,400 for renters.

Rather than blasting the 30-year mortgage, Mr. Lane should laud it. Without this uniquely American housing finance tool, most households would find it increasingly difficult to afford a mortgage, and many creditworthy borrowers would be priced out of the marketplace. Federal policy must continue to support and protect the housing choice that most Americans have chosen for the last century.

Tom Woods, Washington

The writer is chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

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  1. Dale Oxley says:

    BIG THANKS to Chairman Woods,for setting facts straight , too many economist and writers have discounted the importance of Housing to the United States economy. It seems housing has been “go to ” industry to bring US economy out of downturns for decades. Builders like Mr. Woods are here to keep the “Mr Potters” of today from killing American dream of homeownership!

  2. Betty Hardle says:

    Thanks for your reply. I have been a homebuilder since 1970 and have seen the value of home ownership, enjoyed the values of homeownership, and watching families and communities grow and develop due to home ownership.

    There is one aspect of the recent and continuing downturn that has received very little press. What has Washington really done to prevent those who would take enormous risks with other people’s money in the home mortgage market from doing it again? The various “Too Big to Fail” Banks have paid huge penalties. New regulations have been written. BUT, the individuals who invented, engineered and sold the impossible mortgages have not felt any punishment. They, as individuals, have every incentive to do this again, using new regulations as their guide. In Minnesota, the individuals that participated in the local end of these high risk scams are now in JAIL.

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