Author: John McIlwain

John K. McIlwain is the Senior Resident Fellow/J. Ronald Terwilliger Chair for Housing at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in Washington, D.C. An author, speaker and former lawyer, McIlwain brings more than 35 years of experience in the fields of housing, housing investment and the development of sustainable housing.

Articles by John McIlwain

  • Sandy and the Rising Tide: Responding to the Rise in Sea Levels
    Published on November 06, 2012 in Market Trends
    There are many tough issues to be addressed in finding the best ways to build resilience into coastal regions. But there is also much that has already been studied, is well known, is practical and can be implemented now without the need for new studies. What is needed is for these recommendations to be enacted and to become part of zoning and building codes and the process of approving new development and infrastructure.
  • Is Small Beautiful Again? The Sudden Interest in Micro-Apartments
    Published on October 25, 2012 in Infrastructure
    Could apartments one-fifth the size of what is now typical in New York City be a viable solution to the city’s notorious lack of affordability?
  • Greening Senior Housing: Healthier Living and Healthier Finances
    Published on June 06, 2012 in Sustainability
    With over 50,000 senior housing developments across the country, the opportunities for energy reduction and financial savings achievable through retrofitting increasingly warrant serious consideration. Occupants should be involved from the start.
  • The Great Recession: A Slayer of Sprawl
    Published on April 05, 2012 in Market Trends
    John McIlwain, ULI senior resident fellow for housing, says new Census data on areas of population growth is further proof that this is the century of urbanization.
  • Seniors—In Which Metro Regions Are They Living?
    Published on February 23, 2012 in Market Trends
    Part 1: Metropolitan Regions: The growth in the nation’s population of seniors is already figuring in national debates about health care and Social Security—but at the local level, the impact will be even greater.
  • Seniors—In Which Cities Are They Living?
    Published on February 23, 2012 in Market Trends
    Part 2: The Cities: From 2000 to 2010, the U.S. senior population grew 20 percent, but this growth has not been evenly distributed around the country. And given the uncertain economy, future trends are hard to predict.
  • Fixing the Housing Markets: Three Proposals
    Published on January 30, 2012 in Residential
    Little on the horizon promises change, but there are three ways the federal government could revive housing, says John L. McIlwain, ULI’s senior resident fellow, housing. The two most significant ideas are politically controversial and would require stronger leadership than has been shown on housing to date.
  • The Rental Boost From Green Design
    Published on January 04, 2012 in Planning & Design
    There is growing evidence that energy-efficient and green apartments rent up faster than others and are experiencing less turnover—a trend the apartment industry would do well to watch.
  • Writing Down Mortgage Principal
    Published on December 16, 2011 in Residential
    Because U.S. housing markets are failing to find a bottom, more and more economists are coming to believe that writing down the loans of underwater homeowners is what will end the recession.
  • The Surprisingly Simple Amenities that Help Urban Residents Age in Place
    Published on December 07, 2011 in Planning & Design
    Many U.S. cities—and suburban town centers—are looking for ways to make themselves more age-friendly. These amenities will be key to attracting residents who prefer to age in place and the growing number of empty nesters drawn to urban life.
  • Suburbs, Cities, and Aging in Place
    Published on August 17, 2011 in Market Trends
    By some estimates, 70 percent of seniors today are living in the same place they celebrated their 65th birthday, known as aging in place. Though aging in place is not a new concept, says ULI Senior Resident Fellow John McIlwain, its impact today is dramatic because of the rapid growth of seniors in the United States. Read what cities are doing to accommodate this expanding demographic group in light of today’s limited municipal resources.
  • Should the Administration Rent Its Growing Inventory of Foreclosed Homes?
    Published on August 12, 2011 in Market Trends
    On Wednesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, HUD, and the Treasury sent out a joint Request for Information on ways the government might rent out the 250,000 homes that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA currently own. With the inventory of such homes owned by Fannie, Freddie, and the FHA expected to continue growing, is this the right move for the federal government to make?
  • Suburbs 2.0: The Evolving American Suburbs
    Published on June 01, 2011 in Market Trends
    For over a century, American suburbs have been growing inexorably outward from central cities. Following World War II, this growth accelerated to the point where metropolitan regions in the United States now can have a 50- to 60-mile (80- to 96-km) radius. This ever-widening spread of suburbia seems to have continued through the past decade, if 2010 Census data serve as any indication. This, however, is not the whole story, and a closer look at facts on the ground suggest that the growth of the suburbs—now stalled by the housing bust—may in fact be winding down. If true, this would be a major and arguably a very beneficial shift in American urban development.
  • Redefining Seniors’ Housing
    Published on May 13, 2011 in Development
    The population of seniors in the United States is rising at a rate without precedent. At the same time, the character of the population is changing in new and unexpected ways. This is bringing both challenges and opportunities to the seniors’ housing market. Read about the three distinct groups of seniors and the types of housing they are expected to seek.
  • Video: Gen Y and Housing Trends
    Published on March 29, 2011 in Industry Sectors
    According to John McIlwain, ULI senior resident fellow for housing, at a recent forum hosted by the ULI Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing, development of housing in the post-recession economy will be influenced by two population groups at opposite ends of the age spectrum: Gen Y and senior citizens. Listen to McIlwain discuss what Gen Yers will want in housing.
  • Video: Seniors and the New Senior Housing
    Published on March 29, 2011 in Residential
    According to John McIlwain, ULI senior resident fellow for housing, at a recent forum hosted by the ULI Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing, development of housing in the post-recession economy will be influenced by two population groups at opposite ends of the age spectrum: Gen Y and senior citizens. Listen to McIlwain discuss what he describes as three distinct groups of seniors will want in housing.
  • Homeownership: Deferring the Dream
    Published on February 23, 2011 in Market Trends
    At the end of 2010, the U.S. homeownership rate fell to 66.5 percent—the lowest rate since 1998. And the six-year trend of households going from owning to renting a home continues. Read how demographic trends, ongoing high levels of foreclosures, high unemployment and underemployment, and tightened standards for mortgage financing are poised to affect the number of new homes sold going forward.
  • Reforming America’s Housing Finance Market: The Administration’s Proposal
    Published on February 22, 2011 in Industry Sectors
    On February 11, the U.S. Treasury and HUD issued a paper on reforming the government-sponsored entities (GSEs)—namely, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. John K. McIlwain, Senior Resident Fellow, ULI/J. Ronald Terwilliger Chair for Housing, notes that for the first time in 70 years, an administration—a Democratic one at that—backed away from an all-out commitment to homeownership and even pulled its support from Fannie and Freddie. Read about the three options that are being contemplated to replace the GSEs.
  • Who Are You Calling a Senior?
    Published on January 06, 2011 in Market Trends
    It is unlikely that the boomers will be looking for traditional retirement housing for at least ten to 15 years. When they do, expect them to want a very different style and organization of seniors’ housing. Read more about what the new seniors will want in housing and how they will live differently that seniors of the past.
  • QE2: Will It Save the U.S. Housing Industry?
    Published on January 03, 2011 in Default Category
    The recent announcement by the Federal Reserve that it will purchase $600 billion of longer-term treasuries—known as quantitative easing—is clearly aimed at the housing market, as well as at commercial lending in general. This move raises two questions: which way will interest rates move as a result? and what will be the impact of low or falling rates on the housing market?
  • What Does the New Congress Mean for Housing Finance?
    Published on December 08, 2010 in Market Trends
    As the current Congress winds down with its overburdened lame duck session, attention is beginning to turn to what the new Congress may mean for housing finance. Even though the new Congress has not yet been organized and Committee chairs and members picked, read what John McIlwain, Senior Resident Fellow, ULI/J. Ronald Terwilliger Chair for Housing, believes to be some themes worth paying attention to in the coming months.
  • Housing Gen Y: The Next Challenge for Cities
    Published on November 23, 2010 in Market Trends
    Two facts in particular distinguish Generation Y from any previous U.S. generation: it is by most accounts the largest in U.S. history, consisting of some 80 million people or more, and it is by far the most economically challenged since the Great Depression. While they share many of the same dreams of those before them, read how gen-Yers are likely to react differently in their search for affordable housing.
  • Planned Communities: What Lies Ahead?
    Published on November 10, 2010 in Development
    Conditions today and for the next few years are not favorable for any kind of development, much less the large-scale, greenfield development that has characterized master-planned communities for the past five decades. Read about 12 new approaches to such development worth considering as a response to the changing marketplace.
  • Is It Time for a Federal Moratorium on Foreclosures?
    Published on October 14, 2010 in Development
    The jobs numbers released this past Friday show unemployment continues unabated even as the federal stimulus program winds down and states and local governments continue to cut back on jobs. The lack of new jobs and the high rate of unemployment especially among the "Echo Boomers" who should be buying their first homes, estimated by some to be over 30%, will keep household formation, now a quarter of what it would normally be, low and housing demand stalled.
  • Next Generation Master Planned Communities – Planning for the New Homebuyers
    Published on October 05, 2010 in Development
    The group goes by various names: the Echo Boomers, Generation Y, the Millennials, or the Obama Generation. By all rights they should be starting to buy their first homes in large numbers. Only they are not. They are not forming new households despite being at the prime age for moving out on their own. Learn what John McIlwain thinks is a trend that is here to stay and will reshape master planned communities.
  • It’s Not Over until It’s Over: Housing Finance after Dodd-Frank
    Published on September 08, 2010 in Market Trends
    The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173), recently signed into law by President Obama, is the most sweeping legislation regulating the U.S. financial services industry since the Great Depression. Some of the act’s provisions became effective immediately upon enactment. Read more about the impact of the provisions relating to the securitization of mortgages.
  • Reviewing Treasury’s August 17 Meeting Regarding the GSEs
    Published on September 02, 2010 in Capital Markets
    An August 17 meeting exploring reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, sponsored by the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, showed wide disagreement about what to do about the two giant mortgage suppliers and when to do it. The administration has vowed its full support for these government-sponsored entities ( GSEs), but Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner began the meeting by asserting that there will be fundamental changes to the two GSEs.
  • Missing in Action: The Private Mortgage Market
    Published on August 01, 2010 in Capital Markets
    For the past two years, 96 percent of all financing for housing in the United States has been provided by the federal government. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) have become the mainstays of financing for both homeownership and rental housing. Since the federal government’s takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the private mortgage market has become little more than a memory.