NEW CASTLE, NY — After Westchester County officials begged hundreds of New Castle residents exposed to the new coronavirus over Horace Greeley High School’s graduation weekend to self-quarantine and answer contact tracers’ calls, town officials issued a statement — and they didn’t mince words.
“It has come to our attention that despite the continued outreach and education by and from the Town of New Castle, Westchester County and New York State, there are some people who continue to ignore social distancing guidelines and willfully disregard the protocols intended to protect the public health,” they said in a special edition of their e-newsletter.
“Lest it be lost on anyone, your 16-year-old child does not dictate to you that he or she is going to hang out with friends. When your son or daughter is home from college living under your roof, it is your roost to rule. If you just returned from states such as North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona or Texas, do not have the arrogance to believe you do not need to self-quarantine for 14 days.”
The outbreak is connected to two local families who returned from trips to Florida bringing the virus. Infected family members attended the ceremony and parties over June 20-21 that drew not only the school’s more than 300 graduates but also family members, other Greeley students and staff, as well as teenagers from nearby communities.
Disregarding pandemic protocols is apparently a pattern in this coronavirus cluster. A photo from the graduation ceremony widely shared on social media shows many students and guests mingling without masks during the ceremony, which was planned as a “drive-in” event at the Chappaqua train station’s south lot.Subscribe
Then during a visit Monday to New Castle, County Executive George Latimer and Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler held a news conference and repeatedly reminded residents that everyone who attended the ceremony or parties must properly quarantine themselves. They also repeatedly implored residents to answer phone calls from contact tracers trying to find and warn everyone who was exposed.
New Castle officials sent out their email later that night.
“We will not tolerate these selfish actions,” they said. “Know that you are potentially and gravely hurting this community and those you presumably love if you do not. Yes, you can have gatherings consistent with the Executive Orders, but whether you are 18 or 81, be neither complicit nor the problem itself. Do not throw parties and forget the social distancing and mask wearing that has kept us safe. Ignorance is not bliss. In fact, getting sick from or passing on COVID-19 is anything but that.
“Show respect to your neighbors, friends, family members and strangers – such as those who were self-quarantined despite adhering to the law and best practices.”
Town officials said the board and Police Department are fully involved in the efforts led by the New York State Department of Health.
“It is our hope that we need not pursue the type of recourse that those who are summoned or charged will undoubtedly regret,” they said. “Whether you are a New Castle resident, a visitor from a neighboring community, or a student in the Chappaqua Central School District, should you flout the very rules that are intended to keep us all safe, the consequences may be quite severe. Know that we have reached out to and spoken with the Governor’s Office and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for guidance on how to best enforce social distancing orders whether through civil sanctions and fines or criminal prosecutions.”
With today’s release of the April S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, we learned that seasonally adjusted home prices for the benchmark 20-city index were up 0.33% month over month which is cut to 0.16% with inflation adjustment. The nonseasonally adjusted index was up 4.0% year-over-year.
Investing.com had forecast a 0.5% MoM seasonally adjusted increase and 4.0% YoY nonseasonally adjusted for the 20-city series.
Here is the analysis from today’s Standard & Poor’s press release:
“April’s housing price data continue to be remarkably stable,” says Craig J. Lazzara, Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The National Composite Index rose by 4.7% in April 2020, with comparable growth in the 10- and 20-City Composites (up 3.4% and 4.0%, respectively). In all three cases, April’s year-over-year gains were ahead of March’s, continuing a trend of gently accelerating home prices that began last fall. Results in April continued to be broad-based. Prices rose in each of the 19 cities for which we have reported data, and price increases accelerated in 12 cities.
“As was the case in March, we have data from only 19 cities this month, since transactions records for Wayne County, Michigan (in the Detroit metropolitan area) continue to be unavailable. This is, so far, the only directly visible impact of COVID-19 on the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. The price trend that was in place pre-pandemic seems so far to be undisturbed, at least at the national level. Indeed, prices in 12 of the 20 cities in our survey were at an all-time high in April.
“Among the cities, Phoenix retains the top spot for the 11th consecutive month, with a gain of 8.8% for April. Home prices in Seattle rose by 7.3%, followed by increases in Minneapolis (6.4%) and Cleveland (6.0%). Prices were particularly strong in the West and Southeast, and comparatively weak in the Northeast.” [Read more]
The chart below is an overlay of the Case-Shiller 10- and 20-City Composite Indexes along with the national index since 1987, the first year that the 10-City Composite was tracked. Note that the 20-City, which is probably the most closely watched of the three, dates from 2000. We’ve used the seasonally adjusted data for this illustration.
The next chart shows the year-over-year Case-Shiller series, again using the seasonally adjusted data.
Here is the same year-over-year overlay adjusted for inflation with the Consumer Price Index owners’ equivalent rent of residences.
For a long-term perspective on home prices, here is a look at the seasonally and inflation-adjusted Case-Shiller price index from 1953, the first year that monthly data is available. Because the CPI owners’ equivalent rent of residences didn’t start until 1983, we’ve used the broader seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index.
To get an even better idea of the trend in housing prices over long time periods, we compare the change in the seasonally-adjusted Case-Shiller Home Price Index and the Consumer Price Index since 1953.
For additional perspectives on residential real estate, here is the complete list of our monthly updates:
A revised map of New York State showing the phases each of the 10 regions are currently in. On June 10, Long Island will join the rest of the state when it enters phase two.
WHITE PLAINS—Today is the day real estate brokers and agents have been anxiously waiting for since March 22 when Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the “New York on Pause” order that virtually shut down the real estate industry and all other “non-essential” businesses in the state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this morning (June 9) that the Mid-Hudson region, which includes Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess, Sullivan and Ulster counties, entered phase two which lessen restrictions on real estate, offices, essential and phase II in-store retail, vehicle sales, leases, and rentals, retail rental, repair, and cleaning, commercial building management, hair salons and barbershops and now allows outdoor dining at restaurants.
The Mid-Hudson entered phase one of the reopening process on May 26, which loosened restrictions on the construction and manufacturing industries, as well as the wholesale supply chain. In addition, certain retail operations were eligible to be expanded for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup. The phase one designation also affected the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, but had no beneficial impact on the real estate industry, with the exception of real estate development construction.
The Mid-Hudson could be eligible for phase three of the four-phased reopening program on Tuesday, June 23, which will lift some restrictions on food service and personal care. The final phase (four) would impact arts/entertainment/recreation and educational sectors.
Gov. Cuomo, who noted that today was day 101 since the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the state, praised the work of government, health and business leaders for helping facilitate the phase two designation. “The numbers are down because you brought the numbers down,” he said. The governor noted that at the peak of COVID-19 back in April, the Mid-Hudson reported 75 deaths in one day. On June 8, there were no COVID-19 related deaths in the entire Hudson Valley region. Westchester County Executive George Latimer, in a later press conference, noted that there was one COVID-19 related death the previous evening in Westchester County.
Latimer chronicled the great progress the county and the Mid-Hudson region has achieved since the peak of the pandemic in April. He noted that two months ago on April 9, there were 44 COVID-related deaths in Westchester County. Since the pandemic began, there have been 1,396 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Westchester.
He said that with the onset of phase two the county can “return to a reasonable place in our society, hopefully where we are fighting the contagion effectively, but at the same time we are starting to reopen businesses and really get back to something close to normal.”
Since the shutdown of the economy back in March, real estate professionals have tried to offer services and facilitate sale transactions on a virtual basis. The phase two designation lifts restrictions, but does mandate safety protocols, including social distancing. One key change with the phase two designation is that in-person real estate showings are now permissible as long as safety protocols are adhered to.
“The day we’ve all been yearning for is finally here! Many agents are jumping right in, with appointments already scheduled today. I expect that we are going to be as busy as we’ve ever been, with pent up buyer demand, sellers who’ve been waiting until now to put their homes on the market, and a lot more steps to every showing,” said HGAR President Gail Fattizzi.
She added, “As we begin meeting our clients in-person again, we must stay mindful that COVID-19 is still here, and take every precaution. HGAR intends to continue providing CE classes and holding meetings virtually, along with great free programs via Zoom. We should all expect that ‘re-opening’ is going to be a slow, steady process, not an instant change back to normal.”
HGAR Chief Executive Officer Richard Haggerty noted, “For 11 weeks the Realtor community has done our part, first by ‘pausing’ and then by shifting our business to a remote environment, in order to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19. That goal has been achieved and now it’s time to relaunch real estate, following the ESD guidance and with great concern for safety, and get the state economy relaunched.”
Other county and business leaders hailed the beginning of phase two as a milestone that will hopefully begin to relaunch the regional economy, now that New York City has entered phase one (yesterday).
John Ravitz, executive vice president of the Business Council of Westchester, said that the Westchester economy is still in uncharted waters and praised the business community for its resiliency to date in dealing with the COVID pandemic.
“None of us knew what we were facing when the pandemic hit and so many different businesses in different sectors had to pivot; had to deal with their concerns for their employees, as well as their clients and customers,” Ravitz said. “I think what puts Westchester on the map throughout the country is the ingenuity and the creativity we have seen from our business leaders.”
Government officials talked of the work that has been done and the efforts that will need to be made to get their economies back on track.
“County government is doing everything humanly possible to assist these businesses as they reopen,” said Rockland County Executive Ed Day. “We have been sharing guidance with municipalities, local chambers of commerce and with businesses directly through our Office of Economic Development and Tourism. We have also hosted three business info livestreams to communicate critical information and promote Rockland’s tech sector.”
Day also noted that last week the county’s ROCK GOV – FACE COV program which gave out 25,000 masks to local small businesses and nonprofits which have fewer than 20 employees.
“Bottom line, we are working to ensure that businesses reopen in a way that is responsible and protects the health and safety of both their employees and customers,” he added.
Sullivan County government offices will slowly begin reopening to in-person visits, according to County Manager Josh Potosek. “We are bringing back less than 50% of our employees onsite, and offices will be open to the public by appointment only,” Potosek stated. “This is to ensure that the plan we’ve developed is workable and safe before we bring back more employees and reopen for walk-in customers—likely with the start of phase 3.”
The following is guidance from Empire State Development Corp. on In-Person Showings in Phase Two
Residential In-Person Property Showings and Related Activities
Responsible Parties may conduct in-person property showings while adhering to social distancing and required PPE safety guidelines. The following measures must be followed:
• Showings and open houses will only be allowed in unoccupied (e.g., current owner or lessee is not inside the property) or vacant properties;
• For all showings and open houses, Responsible Parties should limit the number of individuals viewing a property at any one time. If multiple parties (from different households) arrive for a showing at the same time, Responsible Parties should encourage those in line to wait outside until their turn.
• As a best practice, appointments for showings should be scheduled in advance, when possible.
Responsible Parties as well as all individuals (e.g. building inspectors / appraiser or potential buyer/lessee) visiting the property will be required to wear a face covering at all times, and Responsible Parties may choose to require gloves and shoe-covers to be worn;
• Responsible Parties should provide face coverings and gloves to prospective tenants and/or buyers, if necessary;
• Responsible Parties should advise prospective tenants/buyers to only touch essential surfaces (e.g. handrails going up/down stairs if necessary) during their time in the property. Other areas or surfaces such as cabinets, countertops, appliances etc. should not be touched by tenants/buyers.
• Responsible Parties must ensure employees, salespeople, agents and brokers clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (e.g. handrails, doorknobs etc.) before and after every showing; and
• Responsible Parties must stagger showings in order to avoid the congregation of people outside and inside properties.
• Responsible Parties are encouraged not to show common building amenities in-person (e.g. gym, roof deck, pool).
• If the common areas mentioned above are shown, Responsible Parties must ensure that those areas are frequently cleaned and disinfected and appropriate social distancing of 6 feet is maintained for all parties at all times.
• Responsible Parties should encourage only one party (e.g. building inspector, home appraiser, prospective tenant/buyer, photographer, stager) to be allowed inside the property at a time. If more than one party is inside the property at the same time, 6 feet of distance must be maintained at all times between individuals, and face coverings must be worn.
• Responsible Parties and prospective tenants/buyers are encouraged not to bring young children or extraneous guests to property showings, when possible, or leave attended children outside.
• Responsible Parties should limit salespeople / brokers from driving in the same car with prospective tenants / buyers. If this cannot be avoided, face coverings must be worn by everyone in the vehicle and frequently touched areas of the vehicle should be cleaned and disinfected.
• Open houses must also only allow one party inside the property at a time.
• Responsible Parties are encouraged, but not required, to conduct remote walkthroughs rather than in-person walkthroughs (e.g. recorded/live video), where possible.
For important information, guidance and forms related to the Reopening of Real Estate in NY during Phase 2 go to HGAR.com COVID-19 Resources or click links below:
New York Forward – Reopening Guidelines and Forms
New York State Safety Plan Template—(This template, or another safety plan template, needs to be completed and made available upon an inspection by the Dept. of Health or local safety dept.)
Reflecting the growing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes plunged 42 points in April to 30, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The decline in April was the largest single monthly change in the history of the index and marks the lowest builder confidence reading since June 2012. It is also the first time that builder confidence has been below the key breakeven reading of 50 since June 2014.
The unprecedented drop in builder confidence is due to the coronavirus outbreak across the nation, as unemployment has surged and gaps in the supply chain have hampered construction activities. Builders have also expressed confusion over eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program, as some builders have successfully submitted loan applications while others have not been able to. NAHB is working with the White House, Treasury and Congress to get the broadest builder participation possible. Home building remains an essential business throughout most of the nation.
Before the pandemic hit, the housing market was showing signs of strength with January and February new home sales at their highest pace since the Great Recession. To show how hard and fast this outbreak has hit the housing sector, a recent poll of NAHB members reveals that 96 percent reported that virus mitigation efforts were hurting buyer traffic. While the virus is severely disrupting residential construction and the overall economy, the need and demand for housing remains acute. As social distancing and other mitigation efforts show signs of easing this health crisis, NAHB expects that housing will play its traditional role of helping to lead the economy out of a recession later in 2020.
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.
The HMI index gauging current sales conditions dropped 43 points to 36, the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months fell 39 points to 36 and the gauge charting traffic of prospective buyers also decreased 43 points to 13.
Looking at the monthly averages regional HMI scores, the Northeast fell 45 points in April to 19, the Midwest dropped 42 points to 25, the South fell 42 points to 34 and the West dropped 47 points to 32.
The HMI survey took place between April 1 and April 13.
January home sales spur optimism for 2020 New York State housing market
Albany, NY – Closed sales and pending sales were up in January in year-over-year comparisons, fueling optimism for a robust 2020 housing market, according to the housing market report released today by the New York State Association of REALTORS®.
Closed sales improved 4.1-percent to 9,204 units from 8,842 houses at the start of 2019. Pending sales were also up in year-over-year comparisons, escalating to 8,895 houses – a 5.6-percent increase over January 2019’s total of 8,421 homes.
The median sales price continued to appreciate as the calendar turned to 2020. The statewide median sales price was $300,000 – an increase of 9.1-percent from the January 2019 median of $275,000.
New listings were down to 14,370 homes – a 2.9-percent decrease from 14,806 homes in January of 2019.
The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage continues to be affordable, dropping to 3.62-percent in January according to Freddie Mac. Days on the market remained unchanged from January 2019 at 77 days.
Data and analysis compiled for the New York State Association of REALTORS® by Showing Time Inc.
Home prices increased in November, rising only 0.2% from the previous month’srevised pace, but up 4.9% from 2018, according to the latest monthly House Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
The FHFA monthly HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Because of this, the selection excludes high-end homes bought with jumbo loans or cash sales.
The report explains that across the nine census divisions, the East North Central division saw the strongest appreciation growth, increasing by 0.8% November, whereas the Mountain division experienced no growth, as appreciation declined 0.1%.
However, the FHFA highlights that the 12-month changes were all positive, with the New England and the West South Central divisions posting the smallest gain of 3.8%, and the Mountain division leading the way with a 6.3% increase.
These are the states located in each division mentioned:
East North-Central: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio
Mountain: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico
New England: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut
West South Central: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana
The chart below compares 12-month price changes to the prior year:
Millennials are moving more often and living in their homes for a shorter period than previous generations. The share of young adults who have lived in their current home for less than two years is nearly 12 percentage points higher than in 1960, according to a new Zillow® analysis.
While 33.8% of people between 25- and 34-years-old had lived in their home for less than two years in 1960, that share rose to 45.3% by 2017.
Millennials are marrying and having children later in life than their predecessors, which likely plays a role in their shorter housing tenure as these major life milestones are often catalysts for settling into a more stable housing situation, Zillow said.
The act of moving is stressful to say the least. Changing your address to your new address is probably one of the less stressful part of moving compared to having to pack-up an entire house. Even so, it is not something to do last minute. It’s important to make the switch of address before the move or else your mail will not follow you to your new address. Your bills, monthly subscriptions and what not will be sitting in your former home and I doubt you’d want to miss any payments.
A USPS address change is an important thing to take care before you move to a new place. When you miss important mail, it can cause many other hassles in your life. A bill may be left unpaid, a check sent to you may be lost, even greetings or presents from family and friends can get left behind in the move. Here is how you can change mailing address.
It used to be a pain to change your address with USPS. You would have to go to the post office, wait in line to get the right form, fill it out and turn it in to the clerk. It could take a half hour or more just to get this done. When you are in the process of moving, that is time that could be much better spent on other things. But now there are websites that allow you to submit your change of address online for free. The online form is simple and only takes about 2 minutes to fill out and submit.
The process is fast, safe, and secure and can even eliminate some of the problems that can occur when filling out a form by hand. Hand written forms can be difficult to read and it is possible for information to be entered incorrectly into the system. Even something as simple as 2 numbers being reversed can mean that your mail will go to the wrong place. However, by entering the information online and verifying it yourself, you help to ensure that your mail is forwarded to the right address.
The majority (53.5%) of young adults who move do so within the same metro area, perhaps to be closer to work or into a larger place as their family grows. An increasing share are moving to a different metro within the same state. Young adults today are more likely than previous generations to live in urban cores, so these could be job-related moves from college towns or rural areas into nearby cities where job growth has been concentrated in recent years. Movers Montreal are great, they are a good option to hire when you need services and the price is reasonable. These guys are packing a 20” truck, lots of soft furniture wraps, good moving experience, and definitely a great attitude.
“Shifting demographic headwinds and evolving workplace norms have significantly altered the housing decisions of young adults today. Untethered from family and enticed by new job opportunities, young adults are more mobile today than they have been over the past nearly 60 years,” said Sarah Mikhitarian, senior economist at Zillow. “Instead of getting married or starting a family in their early to mid-twenties as was the norm in past decades, many are waiting until they are established in their careers. And the typical career trajectory has fundamentally changed since the 1960s as well – rather than climbing a corporate ladder, many are choosing to hop from one role or function to the next, often requiring a move to a new location.”
Among the 35 largest metros in the U.S., the greatest increases in the share of young adults that had recently moved were in Boston (up 22 percentage points since 1960), Pittsburgh (up 20.9), Detroit (up 17.7) and Philadelphia (up 17.4). This share of recently moved young adults has fallen since 1960 in four metros –Las Vegas (down 6.7 percentage points), Riverside (down 6.3), San Diego (down 3.8) and Orlando (down 1.3).
1960 – Share of Young Adults Who Had Lived in Home Less Than Two Years
2017 – Share of Young Adults Who Had Lived in Home Less Than Two Years
Select a quarter and then press “Play” to initiate the interactive map. To get the performance ranking for a specific MSA, zoom in or scroll over the map or click on the numerical ranking legend for wider comparisons.N
2019Q2 HoHM Report: Housing market looking more sustainable
While home sales data have been a bit slower so far in 2019, the national LIHHM* sees positive, more sustainable trends from the housing sector. With the highest reading in three years, the index points to healthy housing activity over the next year or so.
Slower house price gains are improving housing sector sustainability, while reduced mortgage rates, solid job gains, and rising wages should lift home buyer demand this year. Although supply constraints remain, these fundamentals are positive for housing demand
More than half of the country’s 400 MSAs have a positive rating as house price gains in many areas have decelerated over the past year. The slowdown is more pronounced in larger cities, especially along the Pacific Coast where price appreciation is now below average.
Existing home sales dropped during 2018 as rising mortgage rates squeezed potential home buyers. Data show that the declines were sharper in states with the highest median sales prices. The outlook for the remainder of 2019 has improved with lower mortgage rates
* Leading Index of Healthy Housing Markets (LIHHM): A data-driven view of the near-term performance of housing markets based upon current health indicators for the national housing market and 400 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and divisions across the country.
Housing outlook continues to brighten with the LIHHM in positive territory
The national LIHHM rose to a positive reading of 106.3 this quarter, the highest reading in three years. Demand metrics (led by solid job growth and strong household formations) remain highly positive and are indicative of near term health for the housing market. National house price growth continues to decelerate and is near the long-term trend, a positive for sector sustainability. Home buyer demand should respond positively to lower mortgage rates and faster income growth, although continued supply constraints are likely to cap any sales gains. Regionally, more than half of the LIHHM performance rankings are positive and indicate a healthy outlook for housing in those local markets. Demand factors at a regional level are generally supportive with low unemployment rates and faster household formations. Moreover, housing affordability is improving in many local areas as income growth outpaces house price gains while mortgage financing costs have declined.
In a recent analysis, LendingTree surveyed 2,095 American homeowners aged 22 and older about their perceptions of owning a property versus renting.
According to the company’s study, 67% of American homeowners believe owning a home is a better option than renting. However, LendingTree discovered that for many American homeowners, renting is still a viable option.
“About 15% of homeowners believe renting is easier than owning a home, and another 18% are neutral on the topic,” LendingTree writes. “Just 13% of homeowners across all ages wish they could go back to renting, but when broken down by age, 1 out of every 5 homeowners ages 22 to 37 say they miss renting.”
Interestingly, LendingTree says this breakdown is highly dependent on the number of years a homeowner has lived in their home.
“In most cases, the longer that survey respondents have been in their homes, the more likely they are to believe owning is easier,” LendingTree writes. “That changes for those who have owned for a decade or longer. Nearly 72% of homeowners who have spent seven to nine years in their home agree with the statement, compared with 65% of those with at least 10 years in their home.”
Additionally, the report found that age also plays a major role in homeowner satisfaction.
According to the study, 23% of Gen Xers claimed to be dissatisfied with their home purchases, this was followed by 21% of Millennials who expressed the same sentiment.
When it came to Baby Boomers and those aged 73 and older, LendingTree reports that only 14% and 3% held the same regrets, respectively.
Overall, the study revealed that homeownership tenure is a tremendous indication of whether or not a person is likely to return to the rental market.
“Our survey found that the longer you own your home, the less likely you’ll want to rent again,” LendingTree writes. “Only 7% of respondents who have owned their home for at least 10 years wish they could go back to renting, compared with 19% of those who have owned for three years or less.”
The image below highlights the percentage of Americans who wish to return to renting after owning a home:
(Click to enlarge)
Note: LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to collect the responses of 2,095 American homeowners aged 22 and older from the dates of March 22-27, 2019.
But Oregon’s new law will not fix the underlying problem of high housing costs, and it could even make matters worse for vulnerable families.
THE U.S. HAS TWO HOUSING AFFORDABILITY PROBLEMS. RENT CONTROL WON’T FIX EITHER OF THEM.
The first affordability problem is that the nation’s poorest 20 percent have too little income to afford minimum quality housing without receiving subsidies. That’s not a failure of housing markets, but a function of the low wages and unstable incomes generated by labor markets. Poor families could be helped by expanding existing programs such as housing vouchers or the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to cover more poor households. But to fund those programs, middle- and higher-income households would have to pay more in taxes—which state and federal lawmakers have been reluctant to propose.
The only effective long-term fix to the housing scarcity challenge is to build more housing—especially building less expensive housing in cities and neighborhoods where demand is high. This would require substantial changes to local zoning in nearly every U.S. city. But homeowners are a powerful lobby at every level of government, and only a fewboldelectedofficials have dared to challenge the NIMBYs.
EVEN WELL-DESIGNED RENT CONTROL POLICIES CAN REDUCE HOUSING SUPPLY, HARMING VULNERABLE FAMILIES.
The Oregon law tries to foresee and forestall some ways in which rent control can push landlords and developers into harmful responses. For instance, when landlords cannot raise rents, they often choose to not provide adequate maintenance. The Oregon law allows relatively generous annual rent increases of 7 percent plus inflation to avoid this problem. Although the bill is thoughtfully designed, any such regulations create incentives for developers and landlords to seek out loopholes. Past research shows that property owners in rent controlled cities are more likely to convert apartment buildings into condominiums. A developer considering building an eight-unit apartment building might revise their plans to build only five apartments, just under the cap set by Oregon’s law—thus contributing less new housing overall. Landlords may pre-emptively raise the rent more as they approach the 15 year mark when controls kick in. Even the increased tenant protections could backfire, encouraging landlords to screen out less desirable tenants—including many low-income families with young children.
FIXING HOUSING AFFORDABILITY WILL REQUIRE COURAGE FROM POLITICIANS, AND SOME SACRIFICES FROM AFFLUENT VOTERS.
Rent control is similar to another popular housing policy, inclusionary zoning, in that it tries to push the onus for improving housing affordability onto for-profit developers and landlords. Self-identified progressive homeowners may be willing to support politicians who advocate these policies. But neither rent control nor inclusionary zoning address the underlying causes of housing affordability, and indeed have the potential to discourage new supply and make the problem worse. Politicians need to be honest with their constituents about the cost of better policies as well as the costs of failing to act. Affluent households should pay more taxes to support poor families, and should allow new apartments in their own backyards.