There's a reason home ownership is still considered the "American dream." A home is a place to create memories, a means for building wealth, and a pathway to strength and stability in the communities we all call home.
Here in San Luis Obispo County, things are no different, and that's something for lawmakers to remember as Congress embarks on an effort for comprehensive tax reform. Middle-class families have built wealth for centuries through home ownership and real estate investment. Home ownership allows families to protect themselves against rising rents and inflation, while offering an opportunity to build equity over time.
Let's face it: Most families can't get a loan to purchase stocks or invest in a mutual fund, but they can get a safe mortgage product at competitive rates to invest in a home. It's a tremendous mechanism for building wealth that shouldn't be taken away.
Best of all, homeowners aren't the only ones who benefit. For every two homes sold, a job is created. In all, home sales support an average of more than 2.5 million private-sector jobs every year. At almost $3 trillion, real estate accounts for more than 16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). At the state level it accounts for more than 20 percent of the GDP.
That's a big part of why, for over a century, the American tax code has incentivized homeowners. The country's leaders acknowledge that a strong, stable housing market is good for everyone, which is why it deserves support.
Important tax incentives such as the mortgage interest deduction and the state and local tax deduction are a part of the tax code to ensure all creditworthy families have a fighting chance at the American dream.
If those incentives went away, home buyers would see their dream pushed further out of reach, while current homeowners would have the welcome mat pulled right out from under them.
Comprehensive tax reform is a worthy goal, and lawmakers should be applauded for their ambitious approach.
As Congress continues working through this process, however, the incentives that put homeownership within reach for millions of Americans deserve full support from both sides of the aisle.
Reneir Dresser, SLO Association of Realtors
Joe Prian, Scenic Coast Association of Realtors
Kate Graham, North SLO County Association of Realtors
Mark Burnes, Pismo Coast Association of Realtors