Homeownership is an enduring component of the American Dream – a benchmark Americans have measured success and well-being against for years. It can be a rite of passage into adulthood or preparation to start a family and continues to hold significant cultural weight.
June marks the celebration of National Homeownership Month (NHM), dedicated to honoring those notions and celebrating the ways homeownership benefits families and communities across America. In the face of major rate volatility, a historic 50-year record shortage in available homes and record-high home prices, National Homeownership Month offers a poignant opportunity to reflect on the current realities of the market.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the origins of National Homeownership Month and what buyers can do to continue moving toward homeownership – even in a challenging market for buyers.
A century of National Homeownership Month
Americans have been celebrating some form of NHM for nearly a century, though it’s gone through many iterations over the years. The tradition first began during the economic boom of the Roaring Twenties following the end of World War I when many had enough wealth to buy property and settle down with family. The looming Great Depression, however, rattled this newfound freedom.
Quickly, banks had no money to lend and potential buyers had no cash. Roosevelt’s New Deal and the creation of the Federal Housing Administration and Federal National Mortgage Association (now known as Fannie Mae) followed in the late 1930’s, and the U.S. government stabilized the housing market. It was here that the 30 year mortgage became the standard.
Mortgage subsidies for veterans provided by the G.I. Bill in 1944 provided the next wave of abundant homeownership in America. Through the economic booms of the following decade, homeownership took a foothold in the country and became a marker of the American Dream. In 1956, the National Association of Realtors® memorialized the National Homeownership month on a nationwide scale.
A dream deferred
But for many Americans, The American Dream of homeownership was deliberately derailed or placed beyond their reach through generations of racist policies and practices inflicted against them. The government, real estate agents, landlords, and financial institutions systematically discriminated against Black homeowners and other minorities through unethical practices such as “steering” and “redlining,” among others.
In the next decade, LBJ’s Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status. This amendment began the long journey to create equity for all homebuying hopefuls, though data shows that the long-lasting effects of the policies are still felt today.
Making homeownership more accessible
The holiday became American Home Week in 1986, changed to National Homeownership Week in 1995 by the Clinton Administration to increase ownership rates, and in 2002 it was expanded to a month-long celebration by the Bush administration.
In 2021, with the lingering economic woes and housing market pains exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, President Joe Biden vowed to expand stability and equal opportunity in the housing market. Biden requested historic funding for housing supply in his federal budget proposal for the fiscal year in a proposal released on May 31, 2022.
5 tips for homebuyers in a hot housing market
While National Homeownership Month only lasts for the month of June, our mission here at Morty is to help homebuyers secure a mortgage and close confidently, year-round. Here a few tips on how to navigate a hot market:
1. Get a mortgage pre-approval.
t’s a good idea to have a pre-approval before you start looking at homes, regardless of market conditions – but it’s especially critical in a competitive housing market. Pre-approvals are a great way to show sellers you’re serious, and can even make the difference between an accepted or rejected offer. When you’re ready to move forward, you can get started here with Morty’s pre-approval tool.
2. Look for homes under your budget so you can bid up.
If you’re buying in a market where home prices are reaching historic highs, there’s a good chance you may pay over asking price or find yourself in a bidding war. In anticipation of either scenario, look for homes under your budget to give yourself some flexibility. Additionally, searching for recently sold homes in your desired area can give you a feel for the true market value, adding an extra level of insight into your search.
3. Get the best real estate agent possible.
Finding the right real estate agent can be a balm for some of the harsher realities of a sellers’ market. A good agent can be not only an advocate for you in your home search, but a sounding board for all your uncertainties and questions, as well. They’ll alert you to new houses or even have access to homes that aren’t yet listed.
4. Expand your search.
Consider options in neighborhoods that you might not have previously considered. It can be easy to silo your search and get tunnel vision, searching within a small radius for the right home. Expanding a search – even just dropping the pin on the map into a different neighborhood – can be a fun way to explore and yield more buying options.
5. Be patient.
House hunting and a string of rejected offers can leave buyers with a real sense of burnout. As tempting as it may be to give up altogether, or to put in high offers on homes you don’t really want just to be done with it – don’t. Rash decisions can leave you resentful and struggling to meet housing costs down the road.
Patience affords you more time to set aside down payment funds, work on your credit score, and calibrate the vision for your home. And remember: these feelings of frustration are shared by the many hopefuls searching for their dream home who also can’t control these markets. Focus on what you can control.
Celebrating National Homeownership Month – every month
Holidays like National Homeownership Month present an opportunity for recognition of the values, hopes and dreams of millions of Americans. Here at Morty, we want to help homebuyers achieve sustainable homeownership and create the life they’ve imagined every day of the year. Check out today’s rates to get started.
This post was originally published in June 2022.