Under Biden, Housing Affordability Keeps Reaching New Lows

On Thursday, members of the Senate Banking Committee, both Democrats and Republicans, called attention to the impact of low housing supply on pricing.

Prices rose due to labor shortages and supply chain delays caused by global lockup rules, exacerbating housing inventory constraints that have long plagued prospective American homebuyers. Members discussed the topic during the Senate Banking Committee’s first hearing of the new Congress.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stated in his opening remarks that there simply isn’t enough decent housing at rates families can afford. And because there are insufficient dwellings, renters and homeowners are forced to pay more each month or endure “peeling lead paint and leaks.”

As of 2019, the housing market has a shortfall of 3,8 million homes, according to statistics from the government-sponsored mortgage corporation Fannie Mae. According to the National Association of Realtors, approximately 5.5 million to 6.8 million additional homes should have been built during the past two decades to meet the current demand.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said that rent control and the Biden administration’s passivity on the supply chain problems had exacerbated the housing inventory problem. In his opening address, he stated that it is past time to reconsider the tax-and-spend methods resulting in generational poverty cycles for families and develop genuine solutions that significantly benefit all households. According to Scott, the government must begin aiding families responsibly rather than doubling down on ineffective initiatives. Scott believes that the best way to fix the issue is to capitalize on the triumphs of the American capitalist system by promoting private investment in the housing sector and removing impediments that artificially restrict supply.

In the meantime, senior Biden administration officials have demanded that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide affordable financing for the construction of multifamily housing, streamline regulations to make “mixed-income housing” and “housing for very low-income tenants” easier, and support housing projects near mass transit.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 7.5% increase in shelter prices in December 2022, which was significantly higher than the 1.8% rate recorded one month before President Joe Biden took office. In line with data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, median house selling prices have increased from $322,600 during the second quarter of 2020 to $467,700 during the fourth quarter of 2022. As a result of the Federal Reserve’s efforts to reduce inflation, mortgage rates skyrocketed in the second part of last year, leading to a cost plateau.

The decline in home prices coincides with a decline in homebuying activity and does not imply a rise in affordability for prospective purchasers. According to an analysis by the real estate brokerage Redfin, the average monthly mortgage payment increased by more than 45 percent between the end of 2021 and the end of 2022. This indicates that the salary required to afford a home of this type has increased from nearly $74,000 to more than $107,000.

Christopher Herbert, from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, testified before the Senate Banking Committee that despite the market downturn, the number of properties on the market has “remained at historic lows.” He noticed that purchasers who secured advantageous mortgage arrangements before the current increase in interest rates are reluctant to sell.

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