[A guest blog post from NAR's Manager of the Housing Opportunity Program, Wendy Penn]
NAR recently released the 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey. The findings show that a strong majority (78%) of renters say that homeownership is a priority for them in the future, with 51% calling it one of their highest priorities.
That is an impressive statistic, but it is not surprising. There is a reason homeownership is called the American Dream. Home is where we make memories, build our futures, and feel comfortable and secure. It’s no wonder that most renters want to own a home. So where are these renters and how can REALTORS® help them along the path toward homeownership?
REALTORS® need not look far to find renters. In communities across the country, the people who provide vital services – teachers, firefighters, bank tellers, and retail and restaurant workers – often are renters who cannot afford to buy a home in the areas where they work. This challenge leads to employees having to “drive until they qualify”, which means that workers who cannot afford to live near the workplace must travel outward until they find a neighborhood they can afford. The result is long commutes, traffic congestion, and less time spent with family and friends. One way REALTORS® can address this challenge is to become involved in creating workforce housing solutions.
Workforce housing focuses on expanding housing opportunities for America’s working families. REALTORS® are in a unique position to become partners in workforce housing solutions. They, together with business partners – chambers of commerce, homebuilders, economic development groups, lenders, and individual employers – can work alongside local officials and housing nonprofits to help increase housing opportunities for working families unable to afford to live in the communities where they work.
NAR’s Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing white paper showed that homeowners move far less frequently than renters and therefore are embedded in the same neighborhood and community for a longer period. Further, the study showed that homeowners have a greater financial stake in their neighborhoods and are more likely to volunteer in their community. It makes sense that people who give their time and talents working in and serving a community would have a vested interest in living there as well. When teachers, police officers, young professionals, and others leave work they take their talents, social connections, and patronage with them. Workforce housing solutions can help keep these vital employees and their social investments in the communities they serve.
People who are able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to purse the dream of homeownership, in their desired community, and REALTORS® can help. NAR has a variety of resources including grants, classes, technical assistance, and publications that REALTORS® and REALTOR® associations can use to address workforce housing issues.
Visit www.realtor.org/housingopportunity to learn more about workforce housing and NAR’s resources.