8 ways our new commander-in-chief could affect homeownership for the next 4 years.
BY THOMAS MITCHELL
Political pundits around the country were stunned last night when Donald Trump secured enough votes to beat Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States. While supporters from both sides are still reeling from emotions, we woke up wondering what that would mean for real estate.
It’s common for the president to use housing as a vehicle to lead economic recovery, and with Trump being a licensed broker, real estate professionals have been keen to see how his policies would affect them.
“The last time we had real estate dealmakers as U.S. Presidents were founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who loved their property holdings and made sure the U.S. Constitution protected them,” Inman publisher Brad Inman wrote earlier this year. “That was a big deal.”
How will an impending Trump presidency change the real estate market? Here are eight possible outcomes.
Will he use real estate to kickstart the economy?Trump has used real estate himself as an investment, and although he hasn’t said much about his housing platform, what he has said indicates that he’s interested in boosting homeownership.
Much of Trump’s platform has centered around deregulating the financial market in order to more fully revive it, and that alone could also give a boost to real estate.
What will happen to mortgage rates?Many different factors affect mortgage rates — they change each day based on what the market is doing — and last night, we saw a little bit of market panic, which can be expected due to an unforeseen event (most polls showed a Clinton win).
However, as of this morning, they have already bounced back a bit.
A similar effect was seen post-Brexit, with markets dropping after the unexpected vote to leave the European Union, but a few months later, it’s business as usual again.
The international economy also has an effect on the exchange rate, and there could be some disturbance as the result of an unforeseen event.
“Mortgage rates are falling because investors are seeing safe yields in U.S. mortgage backed securities, reflecting their confidence in the relative safety of the U.S. housing market,” wrote Trulia chief economist Ralph McLaughlin this morning in a statement. “Furthermore, the Fed is likely to delay a December rate hike because of global economic turmoil. Both effects mean short term win for borrowers, and we’ll likely see an increase in mortgage refinancing if rates continue to plummet.”
Could it become easier to borrow money?One way that a Trump presidency could make it easier for consumers to own homes would be to lower premiums for FHA loans or cutting guarantee fees for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Neither of those have been specifically mentioned as priorities for his campaign — and Fannie and Freddie present their own problem, as seen below.
Will there be cutbacks in federal programs?In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan cut back on many federal programs (such as mental health care) in order to trim the national budget.
Some programs, such as those involving affordable housing, might have more of an effect on real estate than others, but Trump has not indicated which programs he would be most likely to target for cutbacks.
“While local and state policies are likely to be unaffected, major programs — such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Section 8 housing vouchers — could be on the table for reform,” said McLaughlin.
What about regulations?This is something that Trump — and the Republican party as a whole — has been vocal about.
In July, the party approved its 2016 platform. That platform includes significant changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and there has been talk of repealing the Dodd-Frank Act, which imposed regulations on lenders, and replacing it and the CFPB with something else.
Loosening regulation on lending could potentially boost homeownership by making it easier for consumers to obtain loans.
In August, Trump also told a meeting of the National Association of Home Builders, “There’s no industry, other than probably the energy industry, that is more overregulated than the housing industry … Twenty-five percent of costs to build a house are regulations. I think we should get that down to 2 percent.”
If construction is deregulated to some extent, this could mean more affordable homes for consumers.
Employer/independent contractor regulations
What happens to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also known as Obamacare) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations is up in the air now.
And if Republicans are successful in getting rid of some or all of PPACA or OSHA, then that could mean lower operating costs for small business, including real estate brokerages. It could also mean that agents are no longer required to purchase their own health insurance as independent contractors if PPACA is repealed or amended.
Will the mortgage interest deduction go away?Last year, a tax plan that Trump shared specifically and explicitly mentioned that he would preserve the mortgage interest deduction.
Trump’s current plan (more abbreviated than the previous version) does not go into detail about the mortgage interest deduction.
Will there be reforms at Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), are currently under government conservatorship — and although figuring out what to do with the behemoths is bound to be difficult, it’s also likely to fall into Trump’s lap.
The GSEs are projected to run out of funds in 2018, so if we don’t have a plan by the time that happens, we’ll need one.
What about immigration?This is a big unknown — if Trump does, indeed, tighten immigration policies as outlined in his platform, then the United States could see some softening in markets that rely heavily on overseas investors, who might face additional difficulties or hurdles in purchasing property.
However, Trump’s immigration policy has undergone many changes since he first announced his candidacy, and immigration reform won’t be an easy bill to push through, so it’s difficult to determine whether this will influence the real estate market to any large degree.
Inman readers were prescient in September when we revealed the results of a reader poll — most readers were voting for Trump. What do you think is next now that he’s our new president?