This is the first installment of our economist Q&A series of the top housing market forecasts for 2021. Every Tuesday in December in the HW+ Slack channel, HousingWire will be hosting a Q&A with a different economist to dig into their predictions for the upcoming year.
To kick off the series, HousingWire Interviewed Haus Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Analytics Ralph McLaughlin on his predictions for the year ahead. This article has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
HW: How will 2021’s political environment impact the housing market in the year ahead?
Ralph McLaughlin: Great question. I’m of the belief that the political environment will be even more important than it normally is. Plainly, we’ve experienced an unprecedented public health and economic crisis. Our initial efforts helped prevent catastrophe, but it appears we’ll need renewed protections for the millions of Americans still impacted by the pandemic in order to limit further damage. But definitely some promising news out of the Senate this morning! (Note I wrote my piece over a week ago).
HW: Can you go into that a little more? I know in your piece you mentioned the impact of a split Congress on the housing industry. What policy options are out there right now that we should keep a close eye on?
Ralph McLaughlin: I don’t necessarily think we need to create new policies as much as we need to renew our existing ones. Supplementary UI expired last July, and renewing this ASAP would be a big boon to both distressed renters and owners (but especially the former). Also, renewing forbearance programs that are set to expire this spring would also help, and we should keep an eye on that as well, but I do think we need to modify that program to require distressed homeowners to provide proof of economic or personal injury due to the pandemic.
Same with eviction moratoria for renters. This will provide help to those who need it while also minimizing the impact to note holders and landlords.