Among a handful of issues—hello, climate change?—housing is one of the ‘big’ topics receiving scant attention during the presidential campaign. One one level, that’s a sign of how far the market has rebounded from the depths of the 2008 credit crisis. But housing is still a huge part of the economy and the most important financial asset for many Americans, and thus deserving of more attention from our next president.
Fortunately, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have put together some policy priorities on the issue, even if it hasn’t been a major talking point for either on the trail or during the debates. In the accompanying videos, I discuss the candidates’ respective plans with Stan Humphries, chief analytics officer and chief economist at Zillow Group.
Clinton’s plans are “detailed and balanced, even while being incremental and unsurprising,” according to Humphries.
The housing economist gives the democrat high marks for wanting to give recipients of housing assistance more choice over where they use the credits, citing academic research which shows “improved outcomes” when policies “allow people to escape areas of concentrated poverty.”
On the flip side, Humphries gives Clinton demerits for wanting to maintain or expand the low income housing tax credit, and for not addressing the big role Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac still play in the U.S. housing market.
As for Donald Trump, Humphries says the GOP candidate, “has identified housing issues of real importance...but offers very few prescriptions for fixing these problems, and the solutions he does offer largely come instead from establishment Republicans he seemingly so loves to hate,” specifically House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WISC.)
In terms of specific policies, Humphries says Trump goes too far in wanting to roll back regulation of the homebuilding industry, arguing “there some housing regulation that’s desirable,” such as regulations around clean water, energy efficiency and fire prevention.
In addition, while “Trump’s desire to simplify the tax code and close most deductions is laudable,” the economist says “he’s wrong to spare the mortgage interest deduction,” which overwhelmingly benefits the wealthiest Americans. “I don’t think as a matter of national policy we should be spending $100 billion [annually] to make those people’s lives easier.”
Clinton doesn't directly address the mortgage interest deduction (MID) in her plan, instead borrowing from Mitt Romney and calling for a cap on all itemized deductions, "which would have the impact of eliminating the MID for wealthy families," Humphries says.