AgentMarkets & Economy

What will it take to revive America’s record-low homeownership levels?

These are the barriers stopping potential buyers from taking the leap
  • U.S. homeownership rates are hovering near a 50-year low due to a mix of affordability challenges.
  • NAR plans to lobby hard for an environment more friendly to buyers.

Heidi Maierhofer Heidi Maierhofer dropped everything to attend the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) Sustainable Homeownership Conference at the University of California, Berkeley on Friday. Struck by stories from colleagues who are facing low inventory issues across the country and her own experiences in the San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula, the principal at Keller Williams Bay Area Living had a sense of urgency. Looking at the numbers from her MLS over the past 10 years, she said: "It was so clear to me that we are back down to recession levels in terms of levels of turnover." As the listing supply shrinks, her agents are having to work harder to hold market share. Meanwhile, her clients are tending to stay put and remodel. For now, the voter-backed Prop 13 measure that restricts tax hikes on properties until they’re sold and the capital gains tax, which puts a $500,000 cap on the profit homeowners can walk away with, are making it unattractive to move. That...