Buying, Home Values

2020 Presidential Candidates: Policy Impacts on First-time Home Buyers

This year’s election is proving to be one of the most contentious battles for the White House the country has seen in years. Candidates from both sides of the aisle have established their platforms on hot-button issues from immigration reform to healthcare access. But, in the midst of a robust economy and low mortgage rates, where do the candidates stand on housing policy? How might their plans affect young, first-time buyers facing higher home prices and tight inventory?

Republican Incumbent: President Donald Trump

In September 2019, the Trump administration announced its plan to reform the housing finance system and privatize the government-backed mortgage entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Treasury Housing Reform Plan has three focal points: 1) limit the role of the federal government within the mortgage market, 2) protect taxpayers from future bailouts, and 3) promote market competition in the housing finance system.  

Proponents of the plan argue that it promotes sustainable homeownership and stave off a severe housing crisis like the one in 2008 that saw housing prices plummet nationally on average almost 20%. Critics of the plan argue that a mortgage industry regulated by the free market is inherently biased against low-income families, therefore becoming a barrier to homeownership for many. 

Democratic Candidate: Former vice president, Joe Biden

The former vice president and senator from Delaware hasn’t announced a universal housing policy as of this writing. Thus far, he has campaigned for justice system reforms that focus on providing paths to housing for those with criminal records. He also plans to invest in low-income communities “to ensure that every American has access to clean drinking water, well-paved roads, high-speed broadband, safe schools, and affordable housing.” 

Though Biden’s universal housing plans remain a mystery, his platform champions an expansion of middle-class jobs and opportunities, revitalization of distressed cities, and climate-centric incentives for homeowners to retrofit their buildings for reduced carbon footprints. 

Democratic Candidate:  Senator Bernie Sanders

Among the Vermont senator’s proposals is one that would end mortgage sales to Wall Street vulture funds and “thoroughly investigate and regulate the practices” of large rental housing investors and owners. Sanders also wants to boost enforcements to protect buyers from potentially fraudulent or predatory mortgage lending practices and ensure that all lending costs and risks are clear and highly visible instead of buried in the fine print.

Democratic Candidate: Senator Elizabeth Warren 

The Massachusetts senator’s housing platform rests largely on reducing rental costs by 10% by investing “$500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three million units that will be affordable to lower-income families.” 

Warren also plans to invest in middle-class housing opportunities with a “Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund,” a $4 billion spend to construct new housing for middle-class renters in communities with severe housing supply shortages. 

The housing market may not be one of the hot-button issues this election year, but it’s still important to stay informed. Follow along with as we continue to provide up-to-date market insights and analysis through-out the election season! 

Lew Sichelman
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Syndicated newspaper columnist, Lew Sichelman has been covering the housing market and all it entails for more than 50 years. He is an award-winning journalist who worked at two major Washington, D.C. newspapers and is a past president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors.