According to a recent panel of housing and mortgage experts, first-time homebuyers in today’s market face a distinct set of challenges, but the opportunity for growth within the segment exists if new regulations are shaped carefully. This consensus was a focus of the fourth annual homeownership panel, hosted by Radian Guaranty on February 15, 2013, in Washington, D.C. The event on Capitol Hill entitled “Homeownership: Supporting First-Time Homebuyers,” brought together industry experts to examine the impact of pending regulations and key legislation, as well as the importance of supporting first-time homeownership for the health of the housing market as a whole.
Ken Harney and Teresa Bryce Bazemore get caught up before the start of the panel discussion. (Photo: Radian Group Inc.)
The panel included an audience of congressional, federal agency and association staffers, and was moderated by Teresa Bryce Bazemore, president of Radian. Award-winning and nationally syndicated Washington Post real estate columnist Ken Harney provided opening remarks. The featured panelists included four notable experts in the housing and mortgage industries: Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies for the CATO Institute; Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic; Michael Fratantoni, vice president of single-family research and policy development for the Mortgage Bankers Association; and Barry Zigas, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America. Overall, the panelists agreed that the first-time homebuyer segment is not recovering at the same rate as other segments of the housing market, and it is crucial to keep this group of buyers in mind when developing housing policy. According to Mr. Harney, “The first-time homebuyer market is essential to the function of the system as a whole. Based on historical norms, we have a net deficit of homebuyers now, with underwriting standards becoming very tough and student debts serving as a major obstacle.”