Lack of income. Low savings accounts. Changing housing demographics. All of these are creating a bad recipe for housing right now. Plus, the future ahead doesn’t look much better, with a lot more people renting and fewer affordable homes becoming available. Per The Wall Street Journal:

And the latest problem: Policy makers in Washington don’t appear to care or are unaware of the growing issues.  

J. Ronald Terwilliger, chairman emeritus and retired CEO of Trammell Crow Residential, recently posted a blog on HousingWire pushing the candidates of both political parties to start speaking to the severe and growing problems in housing.

A housing focus has also been noticeably absent from our nation’s political discourse. That needs to end, right now.

Three years ago, the issue of housing was barely mentioned during the Republican presidential primary, even though America was still reeling from a recession that had its very origins in housing. During the general election campaign that followed, housing was mostly an afterthought.  

The WSJ articles cites research from the Urban Institute that predicts that more than 3 in 4 new households with decade, and 7 of 8 the next, will be formed by minorities. These new households—nearly half of which will be Hispanic—have lower incomes, less wealth and lower homeownership rates than the U.S. average.

The upshot is that fewer than half of new households formed this decade and the next will own homes. By contrast, almost three-quarters of new households in the 1990s became homeowners.

The downtrend would push homeownership below 62% in 2020, and it would hold the rate near 61% in 2030, below the lowest level since records began in 1965.

However, the WSJ article does mention that not everyone is as down on the future of housing.

The decline in homeownership during the past year reflects a surge in new households, a positive development for the economy. For now, these people are renting, but some economists say rising rents will make homeownership look attractive.

Economists at Goldman Sachs say demographics ultimately could be a tailwind. They noted in an April report that even though Hispanics, for example, have lower homeownership rates than non-Hispanic whites, those rates have been rising for the past four decades. They see the homeownership rate stabilizing next year after it falls to 63.5%.

But there is still doubt around these claims.

New research from Freddie Mac suggests the conventional wisdom is all wrong and rising rents doesn’t drive people to homeownership.

Freddie Mac commissioned Harris Poll to survey more than 2,000 U.S. adults online in March 2015 to get their perceptions about renting.

"We've found that rising rents do not appear to be playing a significant role in motivating renters to buy a home," said David Brickman, EVP of Freddie Mac Multifamily. "This contradicts what some in the housing market think as they expect more renters ought to be actively looking to purchase a home. We believe rising rents are primarily a sign of increased demand rather than a signal that home purchases will be increasing." 

Ultimately, the WSJ article said:

Politically, none of this will be easy. Some will say it is a zero-sum game—helping renters at the expense of owners.

Not so, says Mr. Terwilliger. If renters can’t ever become homeowners, who will buy those homes when today’s homeowners need to sell?

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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