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Joshua Rosner

Two Ideas That Can Revive the American Dream

A couple of tax changes could create the right incentives for home ownership.
Build equity, not debt.

Build equity, not debt.

Photographer: Dave McNew/Getty Images

So far, the conversation around President Donald Trump's housing policy has focused on what he might do with the government-controlled mortgage behemoths Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That’s unfortunate, because a few much simpler tax changes could do a lot more for American families.

In the U.S., home ownership has long been an aspirational goal for the poor and a status symbol for the wealthy, but today’s financial realities require different considerations. Ownership can still make sense for lower-to-middle-income households, allowing them to build wealth by accumulating equity in their homes. Many affluent households, by contrast, would be better-off renting, given their ability to earn higher returns on assets other than housing. Oddly, current policies have the incentives reversed.