- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2024

Homeownership has moved even further out of reach for millions of Americans as prices soar and purchases fall, a trend that is likely to have major implications for the presidential race.

The median home sales price reached an average of $419,300 last month, the highest price ever recorded, according to a National Association of Realtors study.

Home prices jumped roughly 6% between May 2023 and May 2024, while sales declined about 3% during the same period. At the same time, the number of unsold homes grew 6.7% between April 2024 and May 2024, which is the equivalent of nearly four months of inventory.

As the incumbent, President Biden stands to bear the brunt of the blame as homes become unaffordability for more Americans. However, former President Donald Trump has offered few ideas beyond emphasizing the need to lower inflation.

Soaring prices have elevated housing costs from a largely local issue to a national one. Housing was second only to inflation in a Gallup survey of Americans’ financial worries. In a Harvard poll of voters under 30 this spring, housing costs ranked as the third most important issue overall, after inflation and health care.

It’s a mixed bag for Mr. Biden. On one hand, 66% of Americans own a home and benefit from rising home values. On the other hand, soaring rents and rising mortgage rates make homeownership more difficult for nearly one-third of Americans.

Several of the presidential battleground states had the largest increases in home prices between March 2020 and March 2024, according to the most recent data from Freddie Mac. On average, U.S. home prices rose 46.5% during that period. Home prices in three of the six swing states — Arizona (59.7%), Georgia (58.7%), and Wisconsin (50.8%) — exceeded that increase. The remaining three swing states— Nevada (45.8%), Michigan (45.7%) and Pennsylvania (43.9%) — were just below the average increase.

Neither candidate has talked much about housing this election season.

During a campaign trip to Las Vegas earlier this year, Mr. Biden briefly addressed housing costs. He bragged that he’s allocated billions of dollars in rental assistance and added incentives to spur new construction.

“The bottom line to lower housing costs for good is to build, build, build,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Trump attacked Mr. Biden over rising housing prices forcing younger voters to stay renters.

“Crooked Joe has made it impossible for millions of Americans, especially YOUNG Americans to buy a home,” he wrote on social media.

Mr. Trump, a second-generation real estate developer, made his fortune as a landlord. As president, he proposed massive cuts to the Housing and Urban Development Department’s affordable housing programs, though those cuts never passed Congress.

He also rolled back an Obama-era fair housing rule that made federal funds for communities contingent upon their efforts to reduce inequality in regulations and permitting decisions.

Mr. Trump also created opportunity zones as an incentive for businesses to invest in low-income and economically-distressed neighborhoods. Investments like retail centers and affordable housing would be eligible for tax breaks.

Mr. Biden has targeted the lack of supply in the housing market to bring down home prices. He has proposed spending $258 billion to address this shortfall by incentivizing new home construction. But this plan needs the support of Congress, which hasn’t moved on the issue.

The president is also seeking to alleviate costs by offering first-time home buyers a $10,000 tax credit to afford their first home.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported a decline in sales prices. Prices have increased, while sales have decreased.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2024 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide