Prioritizing First Time Homebuyers

As we look forward to recognizing National Homeownership Month this year (June 2021), we cannot ignore the issues that plague potential first-time homebuyers across the country. First-time homebuyers of modest means who need a mortgage to purchase a home face stiff competition from cash buyers and well-funded investors in the current market and are being blocked from achieving homeownership in many ways.   The National Association of Realtors reported in April 2021 that 25% of all home sales were all-cash deals, which has increased from 15% reported in 2020. Investors and cash buyers are pushing consumers with a modest income and owner-occupant buyers out of the market.  This disproportionately impacts buyers of color and first-time homebuyers. By purchasing moderately priced homes through all-cash deals, buyers are artificially inflating the real estate market and aiding in gentrification in many neighborhoods across the country.  Investors are also turning owner-occupied single-family homes into non-owner-occupied rentals which diminish the sense of community many first-time homebuyers look for when seeking their dream home.  These issues are hitting all over the U.S. in both rural and urban areas. Housing counselors and advocates for affordable housing began raising the alarm about this issue in early 2020.  Real estate agents were telling homebuyers to waive property inspections and even appraisal contingencies to be competitive.  Buyers were told that cash offers with quick turnaround were beating out their offers (sometimes even for lower amounts).  Private equity companies were bidding up single-family home prices to switch homes to long-term rentals – fueled by Wall Street investors. On behalf of American for Financial Reform, National Housing Resource Center (NHRC) convened a working group that identified five specific areas to address: Incentives for selling to first-time buyers/owner-occupants Amassing [...]

The Black Homeownership Collaborative Plan for Three Million New Black Households by 2030

Black homeownership has plummeted since the Great Recession.   Systemic racism, equity stripping, and a significant loss of affordable housing are just a few reasons for this declination in Black homeowners throughout the US.   The National Housing Resource Center has joined with the National Housing Conference, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the National Fair Housing Alliance many other organizations working collaboratively through the Black Homeownership Collaborative to ensure that there are 3 million new Black homeowners by the year 2030.  To do this, a 7-point plan has been devised that will address several key areas that have caused Black homeownership to continually plummet since the end of the Great Recession. Over one hundred housing leaders that span the political spectrum in areas of housing advocacy and industry recommend seven “tangible, actionable, and scalable” steps that will aid in addressing the gap in housing disparities between Black and white homeowners.  As this is just the beginning in bringing Black homeownership to “levels never previously attained”, they are assured that these steps will lead to new strategies as this plan unfolds. The National Housing Resource Center (NHRC), HomeFree-USA, and NeighborWorks America co-chaired the Downpayment Assistance and the Housing Counseling Workstreams.   To read this plan in detail, click here. Homeownership Counseling – Providing homeownership counseling helps to close the gap in many of these areas by getting much-needed information to would be Black homebuyers.  The plan calls for sustained funding for housing counseling and strategies to get homebuyers and homeowners to housing counseling programs early in the process. Downpayment Assistance – Discriminatory housing policies and growing racial wealth gaps play a major role in many Black and Brown families not having much needed resources to save for [...]

Housing Counselors – Creating Rental Counseling Capacity to Save the Day

The impact of COVID-19 has reached many across our nation in various ways.  As we are entering the second year of this pandemic, many Americans are faced with the possibility of homelessness. The loss of jobs and reduction of hours available to work makes it impossible to meet the demands of paying rent.  This has a domino effect. Landlords also fall into this downward spiral as rent not only helps them to maintain their properties but also provides the capital needed to pay their mortgage and provide for their own families. There have been $300 billion in emergency funds given to various housing programs to provide “direct rental assistance” to those in need in hopes of preventing eviction.  Within these agencies, Housing Counselors have been identified as a much-needed resource in disseminating these funds.  Typically, housing counselors assist homeowners who faced foreclosure and future homeowners in the home buying process.  Since COVID-19, housing counselors have had to include tenant assistance in their work. Although housing counselors are a needed resource in connecting renters with the help required to prevent eviction, there are not enough funds available to assist groups to hire and train new counselors to help meet the growing need. The question now becomes, “how do we as a nation create the capacity to help more Americans get the help they need.”  This week, The Urban Institute (Urban), a research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities, published a brief entitled "Housing Counseling to Support Renters in Crisis." In this brief, Urban reached out to 18 leaders from several housing counseling agencies and the National Housing Resource Center and asked the following questions: How has housing counseling adapted [...]

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