When it comes to housing, this year’s election is a far cry from 2008, when the country was still in the midst of a painful mortgage crisis. At the time, then-candidates Barack Obama and John McCain laid out detailed plans to regulate the financial institutions and help millions of underwater homeowners.
Eight years later, housing has finally come back, with prices reaching record highs in some parts of the country. Even so, there are still plenty of housing-related issues, including home affordability, the cost of rent and the return of some kinds of risky mortgages.
The number of homes that are seriously underwater has fallen to 6.7 million (from a high of 12.8 million in 2012), according to RealtyTrac, but those homeowners who still owe more than their house is worth have few options. A new loan forgiveness program unveiled in April by the Federal Housing Finance Agency would help less than 1 percent of them.
Such issues have received little attention from this year’s candidates, however, and voters are starting to notice. More than a third of Americans say that the candidates have done a poor job articulating their housing and finance policies, and more than a third would like to hear more about these topics, according to a survey released Wednesday from LoanDepot.
Among those surveyed, the top housing-related issue was making homeownership more affordable for middle and lower-income families. Neither frontrunners Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump address this issue at all on their websites. Meanwhile, the website of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is still technically in the race although there’s no mathematical way for him to clinch the democratic nomination, does address the issue in a 2,000-word piece laying out a policy that would include down payments assistance for first-time homebuyers, reforming the credit scoring system, and help for homeowners who are still underwater.
Millennials, whose have been notoriously hesitant to enter the housing market, still have serious financial concerns, according to the LoanDepot survey. More than a third are concerned that they’re not making enough money, and nearly half are worried that the election will impact their ability to access credit.