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Should we care about homeownership rates?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis November 13, 2013 11:09 AM

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Growing number of home buyers are effectively locked out of the market, a new report finds.

While much has been written on the subject, here's a rather striking summary of the bleak situation many buyers face right now trying to get a mortgage and land a home.

"Conventional lending is all but closed to people of color, low-and- moderate income households, and first-time home buyers. Indeed, more than 70 percent of GSE activity is refinancing existing loans," states the report just put out by the by The Opportunity Agenda, National Fair Housing Alliance and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.

Now I am sure some housing bears may applaud the fact that homeownership rates have plunged since the mid-2000s. Nationally, just over 65 percent of Americans are living in houses they or their families own, down from more than 69 percent in 2004, this Bloomberg piece finds.

But that decline primarily appears to be coming at the expense of minority home buyers, as well as families of more modest means from all backgrounds.

The white ownership rate has remained steady at about 73 percent, while for blacks it is now hovering around 43 percent, albeit up slightly by a fraction of a percent in the third quarter.

To say the least, that's really troubling.

The "Let's Reform Housing Finance" report just out from The Opportunity Agenda and other activist groups argues there's no need to wait for Congress to act - the Federal Housing Finance Agency can start leveling out the playing field by simply issuing a series of administrative orders.

The report argues the FHFA should  "provide a liquid and reliable source of credit for housing in all geographies, including urban, suburban, and rural locations, to all credit-worthy borrowers."

Other goals the Feds could immediately start  pushing towards :include ensuring that the nation's fair housing and equal credit opportunity laws are strictly followed and that adequate reserves are set aside to protect taxpayers from future bailouts," the report finds.

Should we be concerned about dropping homeownership rates?

Is the housing market becoming increasingly unfair for growing numbers of buyers?

What's your take?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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