The U.S. homeownership rate, which soared to a record high 69.2 percent in 2004, is back where it was two decades ago, before the housing bubble inflated, busted and ripped more than 7 million Americans from their homes.
With ownership at 65 percent and home values rising, housing industry and consumer groups are pressing lawmakers to make the American Dream more inclusive by ensuring new mortgage standards designed to prevent another crash are flexible enough that more families can benefit from the recovery. Regulators are close to proposing a softened version of a rule requiring banks to keep a stake in risky mortgages they securitize, according to five people familiar with the discussions.
Lawmakers currently shaping housing finance are seeking to reduce the government’s role in keeping rates affordable for riskier borrowers while ensuring homeownership is within reach of minorities and first-time buyers who could be needed to sustain the housing recovery as borrowing costs rise from record lows. Who will be able to buy property depends on the balance they reach, according to Anthony Sanders, a professor of real estate finance at George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia.