Real Estate Remedies Aren?t Working

RealtorsAfrican-, Hispanic- and Asian-American real estate professionals complain that regulatory and legislative remedies are doing little to improve access for minorities to homeownership.

In a survey at this year?s annual multicultural Real Estate & Policy Conference, held in Washington, D.C., in March, nearly 80 percent of attendees representing the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) and Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) said flatly that policy efforts to improve the situation are not working. They cited ?mortgage financing availability? as the single-greatest factor facing the multicultural real estate community, and ?tight underwriting requirements? as the greatest challenge facing prospective homebuyers looking to obtain financing.

NAREB, the African-American trade group, NAHREP and AREAA are the country?s largest organizations representing minority real estate professionals. Stressing that the future of the multicultural community depends on a strong real estate market and continued access to stable sources of reliable mortgage credit, the three groups issued a joint report, ?The Five Point Plan: Refocusing the Future of Minority Homeownership,? with specific recommendations for each of the five points.

?Our Five-Point Plan is designed to bring common sense and a balanced approach to restoring the dream of homeownership to everyone. None of us wants to have homeownership a dream deferred or denied,? NAREB President and CEO Vincent Wimbish says.

The plan focuses on sustainability, accountability and responsibility on the part of all parties in a real estate transaction. It calls for:

* A balanced regulatory approach that will support and encourage sustainable homeownership for qualified and responsible consumers seeking to purchase a home;
* Increased diversity in the financial services arena and adequate oversight of minority business utilization and senior management hires;
* Maintaining strong government support of the secondary market system that includes the broad network of primary lenders, government-supported securitization agency, and FHA that collectively works to broaden credit availability for all communities at all times;
* Strong consumer protection oversight to restore consumer and market confidence in homeownership; and
* Mandatory financial education for all first-time homebuyers that prepares them for the responsibilities, risks and rights associated with homeownership.

The National Association of Home Builders shares the coalition?s sentiments, albeit out of concern for the broader market. ?The continuing fragile state of the housing market should serve as a flag of caution to policy makers who are considering major changes to the nation?s housing finance system and to crucial tax incentives for homeownership such as the mortgage interest deduction,? David Crowe, the association?s chief economist said in an interview with RealtyTimes at the end of March.

Greg Rand, former managing partner at Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty and the author of Crash Boom (Career Press), says now is the best time to put your investment dollars into real estate. ?Real estate prices are at their lowest ebb in years, but anyone with a sense of history in the real estate market knows that those prices will rise as the economy improves and the people who got burned in the mortgage crisis are ready to try their hands at home ownership again,? he says.

If you have a child, buy a condo, Rand advises. It?s an investment comparable to any of the riskier alternatives that investors lose their money on every day. ?No matter which way the winds shift, people will always need a place to live. That?s been true of America since the first log cabin. If you plug into that concept, and leave fear in a box on the shelf, you can be ahead of the curve and ride the wave of the trends that matter.?