Biden makes case for housing proposals in Las Vegas speech – HousingWire

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In a speech given at Stupak Community Center in Las Vegas on Tuesday, President Joe Biden continued to pitch his administration’s new housing proposals, which he and others have claimed will bring down housing costs, bolster supply and eliminate “junk fees” that he says have played people for “suckers.”

After beginning by talking about economic and infrastructure priorities, the president turned to a series of housing policies that he and the White House have emphasized in recent weeks.

The choice of venue for the speech became clear quickly as the president lauded Nevada’s use of additional federal resources to build more housing, a national priority of the administration’s overarching housing plan.

Waiting is not an option

“Here in Nevada, [the state has] used [American Rescue Plan] funds to keep 50,000 people’s rent paid,” Biden said. “Hundreds of first-time homebuyers [were] able to make a down payment. You’re investing more in building and renovating an affordable home than almost any other […] state in the country.

“For example, here in Clark County, nearly 1,000 brand-new affordable units for seniors are under construction today as a result — 8,000 homes total for families, seniors and veterans. […] But we have a lot more to do.”

Biden reiterated that economic data indicates that interest rates will come down over time, but the administration is not interested in waiting for that to happen. Biden shared a personal story about his family’s ability to afford a home when he was a child, qualifying that with the idea that the areas they were looking at “were building 40 to 50 homes at a shot.”

“What my dad used to always say was that the way you build equity in your home is the way you build wealth,” Biden said, “so that when you build enough equity in your home, then you have enough money to borrow to get something new and move, and so on. And that’s how everybody makes it. Everybody in the middle class makes it, usually, through the equity in their home.”

Biden then reiterated the key points of the housing plan, including a first-time homebuyer tax credit that would offer qualifying beneficiaries $400 a month for two years. He said this would serve to have the effect of lowering their mortgage rate by roughly 1.5%.

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The full speech by President Biden on housing, given in Las Vegas on March 19.

Commission lawsuits

Biden also mentioned the recent commission lawsuit settlement by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), as well as a controversial provision of the housing plan that would eliminate the requirement for title insurance on some federally backed mortgages.

“That’s going to save folks as much as $1,500 — the federal government can afford to do that,” Biden said of the title insurance proposal. “In addition, last week the National Association of Realtors agreed for the first time that Americans can negotiate lower commissions when they buy or sell their home.”

At this, the audience in attendance applauded. But NAR later took issue with the president’s characterization of the ability to negotiate commissions, saying that they “were already negotiable before this resolution was reached.”

“On a typical home purchase, that alone could save folks an average of $10,000 on the sale or purchase,” Biden said. “I’m calling on Realtors to follow through on lower commissions to protect homebuyers.”

’Build, build, build’

Biden also addressed another practice the administration has targeted in recent years related to appraisal bias, along with a goal of “cracking down on big corporations who break antitrust laws by price fixing to keep the rents up. That’s how they work it out. Landlords should be competing to give folks the best deal, not conspiring to charge them more,” he said.

But a long-term solution requires action on supply, Biden said, reiterating what has become a mantra of sorts among administration officials.

“The bottom line to lower housing costs for good is to build, build, build,” Biden said. “That’s why to help your congressional delegation, I’ve cut red tape so more builders can get federal financing for their new projects.

“A record 1.7 million new housing units are under construction nationwide right now because of it. In fact, today, my administration reported that single-family housing starts are at the highest level they’ve been in nearly two years, and my new plan would create 2 million affordable homes — including tens of thousands right here in Nevada.”

Biden credited the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program for the movement, as well as additional housing provisions — including residential conversions — for veterans and seniors as part of the overall push.

Biden concluded his remarks by discussing tax proposals and the presidential race, drawing comparisons between the Biden and Trump administrations.

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