The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) called on Congress this week to support policies that will allow home builders to construct more homes and apartments to help ease the nation’s housing affordability crisis and provide better, more affordable housing opportunities.

Testifying on behalf of NAHB during a House Small Business Committee hearing focusing on the economic landscape in America, Steve Martinez, a home builder from Boise, Idaho, told lawmakers that housing is by far the largest single expense for American families and rising costs are putting the nation in an untenable situation.

“Shelter inflation—rent and homeownership costs—is still rising well above a 5% rate driven in large part by a nationwide shortage of 1.5 million housing units,” said Martinez. “The only way to tame inflation and bring housing costs down is to remove the barriers that are preventing home builders from increasing housing production.”

Rising housing costs for consumers are tied to rising business costs. Like home buyers seeking a mortgage, home builders and developers rely on banks for financing to build new homes and housing developments. But tighter financing conditions for development and construction loans are making it more difficult for builders and developers to finance new housing.

“In today’s market, tighter lending conditions, a limited supply of land, permitting roadblocks and delays, and rising fees are all contributing to increased construction costs that make it increasingly difficult to boost the supply of housing,” said Martinez.

NAHB has released a 10-point plan to address the nation’s housing affordability challenges by seeking sensible policy solutions at all levels of government that include reducing excessive regulations, fixing building material supply chains, overturning inefficient local zoning rules, and promoting careers in the skilled trades to address a severe labor shortage in the construction industry, to name just a few.

Regulatory costs, which include complying with building codes, make up nearly 25% of the cost of a single-family home and more than 40% of the cost of a typical apartment development. Increased regulations are making it much harder for home builders and multifamily developers to build housing that is attainable and affordable for American families. These include, for example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture energy building code requirements that require them to insure mortgages for new single-family homes only if they are built to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and HUD-financed multifamily housing built to 2021 IECC or ASHRAE 90.1-2019.

“NAHB supports legislative efforts to ensure that all regulations are designed with small businesses in mind, that regulatory rulemaking agencies are required to consider the true cost of regulations on small businesses, and that regulatory rulemaking agencies comply with the letter and intent of the law in crafting new regulations,” said Martinez. “Therefore, NAHB urges Congress to pass legislation such as the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act, which would require federal agencies to consider the direct and indirect economic effect of a rule on small businesses.”

To help mend faulty building material supply chains and ease price spikes and volatility, Martinez called on Congress to invest in the domestic production and reduce trade barriers of sorely needed building materials, including distribution transformers. The price of distribution transformers is up 72% since the start of the pandemic and wait times for transformers often range from 12 to 24 months.

“NAHB stands ready to work with members of this committee and the full Congress to achieve thoughtful, effective policies to increase the supply of housing and make homeownership and renting more affordable.”

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