NAR 2016 Legislative Issues Brief: Prepare for the NAR Legislative Meetings in D.C | The Wednesday Word

US-capitolAs we approach the end of the first quarter and the state and federal legislative cycles are in full swing, now is the time to review the NAR Legislative Issues Brief and prepare for the NAR Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo to take place from May 9th-May 12th in D.C.

Annually, NAR releases Legislative Priorities that provide the basis for the Legislative Talking Points at the mid-year meetings in May. The Issues Brief outlines the Federal issues, NAR’s position, and how they affect REALTORS®, home buyers, and private property owners.

The key issues in 2016 include:

HOMEOWNERSHIP & REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TAX POLICIES

The growing federal debt, weak economic recovery, and continued growth of tax complexity have kept tax reform near the top of the national agenda. Members of Congress from both Houses and both parties have expressed a high level of interest in reforming the tax system, and President Obama has also expressed qualified support, especially for corporate or business tax reform. This ongoing debate places a variety of tax laws, including those affecting commercial and residential real estate, under increased scrutiny.

  • State and Local Tax Deductions
  • Mortgage Interest Deduction
  • Mortgage Debt Cancellation Tax Relief
  • Capital Gains

CREDIT, LENDING AND INSURANCE POLICIES

Overly stringent lending standards have continued to limit the availability of affordable mortgage financing for credit worthy consumers. Federal policymakers are weighing a number of proposals aimed at creating healthier housing and mortgage markets. Additionally Congress must reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program to avoid the potential loss of 40,000 home sales each month according to NAR research.

  • Credit Availability
  • GSE (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac) Restructuring, Liquidity and Lending
  • FHA Lifetime Mortgage Insurance Premiums
  • FHA Condominium Requirements & Financing
  • National Flood Insurance Reauthorization

BUSINESS OPERATIONS

Protecting the business operations of members is always a priority for NAR. There are a number of issues before Congress and the Federal Regulatory Agencies that could have a significant impact on the business operations of real estate firms.

  • Dodd-Frank Act Regulations (TRID Implementation)
  • Technology Issues (Patent Reform, Net Neutrality, Data Privacy & Security)
  • Appraiser Independence Regulations

COMMERCIAL

More than $1.2 trillion in commercial real estate loans will come due over the next few years, and many of these deals will have trouble getting financing. NAR supports consideration of legislation and regulations to protect and enhance the flow of capital to commercial real estate.

  • 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges
  • Basel III
  • Lease Accounting
  • Waters of the United States

To track the issues, follow the Federal Issues Tracker . Be sure to stay updated on the Mid Year talking points by visiting: http://www.realtor.org/midyear.nsf/ Stay tuned for more Mid Yea updates by visiting The MAR Report every Wednesday.

(Please note: This blog post was prepared by MAR Legal Staff: Michael McDonagh, General Counsel; Ashley Stolba, Associate Counsel; Justin Davidson, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel; and Christine Howe, Public Policy and Finance Coordinator)

Call For Action: Tell Congress to Stop Taking Money from Homeowners | The Wednesday Word

Call-for-Action_blogtitleOn October 22nd, 2015, the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was scheduled to begin consideration on the surface transportation reauthorization legislation.

One proposal would use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s credit risk guarantee fees (g-fees) to fund transportation programs.

On Thursday, October 15, 2015, the National Association of REALTORS® launched an all-member Call for Action.  The Call for Action will asked REALTORS® to contact their Members of Congress and United States Senators in opposition to using the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s credit risk guarantee fees (g-fees) to fund the surface transportation reauthorization legislation.

GSE guarantee fees are charged by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to lenders for bundling, selling, and guaranteeing the payment of principal and interest on their Mortgage Backed Securities. These fees are passed on to mortgage seekers by the lender and add to the cost of obtaining a mortgage.

G-fees are a critical risk management tool used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to protect against losses from faulty loans, and should be used only to manage the companies’ credit risks.

Implementing an extension of the g-fee increase that is unrelated to housing needs could act to hinder the necessary reforms required of the housing finance system for the foreseeable future.

NAR and MAR strongly believe that use of an extended g-fee to fund transportation programs saddles future homeowners with an unnecessary long-term burden, and prevents Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from effectively managing their risk

If you have not yet responded to this CFA, please visit the Call for Action webpage to do so.

As of today, over 1,650 of our members have contacted their Member of Congress in opposition to using g-fees to fund transportation funds. To monitor how the state is doing in its responses, please visit the Realtor Action Center.

Take action now to prevent Congress from placing an unnecessary long-term burden on American homeowners!

Wednesday Word: 2015 Fair Housing Focus

FairHousingFocusNAR2015

 To celebrate Fair Housing Month 2015, NAR is emphasizing community, leadership, and inviting and sustaining diversity. As part of Fair Housing Focus, NAR outlines some aspects of fair housing that go Beyond the Transaction:

  • Diverse Neighborhoods REALTORS® are already the best advocates for inclusive communities, because they understand the value of diverse neighborhoods, a key tenet of fair housing.
  • Diversity in REALTOR® Leadership By actively engaging minority members in leadership roles, state and local associations will benefit from governing bodies that accurately reflect their membership and bring to the table a heightened sensitivity to race issues.
  • Diversity among Community Leadership REALTORS® have the power to help elect candidates who are passionate about fair housing. The REALTOR® Party exists to share its resources and expertise with state and local associations that want to give a leg-up to the best candidates for the job: those who will promote and create broader housing opportunities.
  • Land Use and Neighborhood Revitalization Policies that Invite and Sustain Diversity The REALTOR® Party has numerous programs designed to address aspects of fair housing, from land use policy to neighborhood revitalization. Whether you’re starting small or thinking big, sprucing up a single city block or re-drafting zoning law to promote diverse neighborhoods, the REALTOR® Party is there for you. It’s time to take it beyond the transaction. Now, more than ever, consider how you and your fellow REALTORS® can take the lead in creating a reality of fair housing for all.

Check out NAR’s other Fair Housing Resources and be sure to display your Fair Housing Poster for the rest of Fair Housing Month 2015.

(Please note: This blog post was prepared by MAR Legal Staff: Michael McDonagh, General Counsel; Ashley Stolba, Associate Counsel; and Justin Davidson, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel. Edited by Christine Howe, Legal Affairs & Finance Administrative Assistant)

The Wednesday Word: Fair Housing Month Celebrates Its 47th Anniversary This April

HUD_house-in-hands
April 1st marks the start of Fair Housing Month, a time each year that REALTORS® recognize the significance of the landmark Fair Housing Act. Passed 47 years ago as Title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act effectively prohibits discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex and (as amended) handicap and family status. This Act combated discriminatory practices that came hand in hand with the increased production and sale of housing resulting from the post-World War II homeownership boom. The Act put an end to overtly discriminatory practices such as housing covenants and redlining as well as less direct discriminatory acts such as geographic steering. Massachusetts also adopted a Fair Housing Statute, which is more strict and protects more classes than the Federal statute. We will go into in further detail on the Massachusetts Fair Housing Law in next week’s Wednesday Word.

While the federal and state Fair Housing Acts have mandated non-discriminatory practices, the REALTOR® Code of Ethics also enforces these practices. Article 10 of the Code of Ethics was adopted in 1974 to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act and solidify REALTORS®’s commitment to fair practices. The Code specifies three general provisions as follows:

• REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation.

• REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation.

• REALTORS®, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation.

Additionally, Standards of Practice 10-1 through 10-4 elaborate on information that can and cannot be volunteered as well as how advertisements should be constructed. Visit NAR’s Fair Housing page or read the Code of Ethics Article 10 to learn more about non-discriminatory practices.

MAR will provide a Fair Housing-related blog post each week this month covering topics such as:
• Massachusetts Fair Housing Law
• Listings, Lead Paint, and other Real Estate Related Activities
• NAR’s Fair Housing Program

Read these fair housing blog posts and other government affairs news on www.themarreport.com.

(Please note: This blog post was prepared by MAR Legal Staff: Michael McDonagh, General Counsel; Ashley Stolba, Associate Counsel; and Justin Davidson, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel. Edited by Christine Howe, Legal Affairs & Finance Administrative Assistant)

Relationships and homeownership [Infographic]

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it seems like everyone is thinking about relationships. REALTORS® know that the relationship status of buyers can affect everything from price of home purchased to desired neighborhood characteristics. That’s why NAR recently created this infographic breaking down how married couples, singles and unmarried couples differed in 2014 when buying a home.

Consider it our valentine to you.

NAR Relationships and Homeownership

NAR Presents Four Action Items to FEMA

With the passage of the NAR-supported Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act in early April, REALTORS® were able to help bring property buyers and owners relief from exorbitant rate shocks and potentially inaccurate rate quotes that were causing uncertainty in the real estate market.The story doesn’t end there, however. Now the new legislation must be implemented and there are both concerns and questions that remain unanswered. Check out the rest of the story from the NAR article from here.