NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
2009 Legislative Accomplishments
For 2009, NAR's primary public policy goal was to focus on efforts that stimulate, stabilize and strengthen real estate markets across the nation while also protecting the business interests of members. As we near the end of 2009, NAR has made significant progress on both the legislative and regulatory fronts. The successes highlighted below represent a small portion of the activity conducted on behalf of REALTORS®
As we look ahead to 2010, NAR will continue to advocate policy initiatives that benefit REALTORS® and consumers in the residential and commercial real estate industry.
Protecting REALTORS®' Business Interest and Activities
- Banks in Real Estate - After 8 years of continuous struggle to convince Congress that real estate is not financial in nature and banks should not be allowed in the real estate brokerage business, NAR achieved its objective. On March 11, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, H.R. 1105, was signed into law, and with it a declaration that, going forward, neither real estate brokerage or real estate management can be classified as a financial activity.
- Home Valuation Code of Conduct - Citing a lack of guidance from the GSEs, among other things, NAR is calling for an 18 month moratorium. Staff from both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac met with the Appraisal Committee at NAR's 2009 Midyear Meetings. The conversation focused on the implementation of HVCC. With the Code set to expire in November 2010, NAR supports an amendment to H.R. 3126 that will effectively sunset HVCC.
- Short Sales - After many months of advocating by NAR, on November 30 the Treasury Department finally released the guidelines and forms for its new Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA), which is part of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). HAFA provides incentives in connection with a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure (DIL) used to avoid foreclosure on a loan eligible for modification under the HAMP program. Program features include pre-approving sales terms before listing the property, releasing borrowers from future liability for the unpaid of the first mortgage, and imposing deadlines at each stage.
Expanding Housing Opportunities
- First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit - On November 6, President Obama signed legislation that extended and expanded the homebuyer tax credit. NAR was the leading advocate for the extension and expansion of the home buyer tax credit as an important incentive to help stabilize the housing market and stimulate the economy. REALTORS® sent more than 550,000 letters to Members of Congress and Senators.
- FHA and GSE Loan Limits - Congress passed legislation to extend the current loan limits for FHA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae through December 31, 2010. This extension was the third time in 2009 that NAR successfully advocated to retain limits of 125% of median home price (at 2007 levels), capped at $729,750.
- Protecting the Mortgage Interest Deduction - The Administration's proposed Fiscal Year 2010 budget included a recommendation that health insurance reform be "paid for" by limiting the value of the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and other itemized deductions for upper income taxpayers. The Administration proposed limiting the value of the deductions to 28% for all taxpayers paying more than 28%. Accordingly, those in the 33% and 35% brackets would receive less value for their deductions. NAR aggressively fought off changes to the MID through grassroots, advertising and similar advocacy tools. To date, no version of health reform has included any provision that would limit the MID.
Expanding Commercial Real Estate Opportunities
- Insurance Surplus Lines - The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2571, the Non-admitted and Reinsurance Reform Act, a bill that seeks to modernize the insurance regulatory system by providing a uniform approach to regulating the commercial surplus lines market. More than 25 percent of commercial insurance in the United States is placed in the surplus lines market, also known as the non-admitted insurance marketplace. This legislation is a key component in overhauling insurance regulation and will help ensure the availability of non-admitted and surplus lines of coverage in areas of the country where admitted property and casualty coverage has grown costly and may even be unavailable.
- Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility - The "Financial Stability Plan" announced in early 2009 by Treasury Secretary Geithner included a major expansion of the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) program to include commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). To further ensure the stability and recovery of the commercial credit markets, NAR was successful in advocating for the extension of TALF loans from 3 years to 5 years, as well as having the TALF program extended through 2010.
Eliminating Barriers to Homeownership
- Flood Insurance - NAR successfully worked to extend authority for the National Flood Insurance Program while Congress continues to consider important reforms to improve the program's long-term viability. Without this program, property owners in thousands of communities across the U.S. would not be able to obtain the insurance necessary for them to obtain a mortgage in federal designated floodplains.
- Energy Efficiency Incentives - NAR eliminated time-of-sale energy efficiency requirements from H.R. 2454: the American Clean Energy and Security Act before passing the House of Representatives. Those provisions would have prescribed energy audits and recording, public disclosure and MLS listing. NAR also succeeded in exempting existing residential and commercial buildings from state building labeling programs in the bill. The House bill also includes additional funding and guidelines for state governments to offer financial and other incentives to property owners who voluntarily improve the energy efficiency of homes. NAR is working to retain those exclusions as the Senate considers the House-passed legislation.
- Compliance Guides / Toolkits - Throughout 2009, NAR developed materials to help REALTORS® navigate regulatory issues and new rules that arose during the year:
- An online compliance guide was created for EPA's new Lead Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule.
- VA Toolkit: Home Loan Guaranty Services was created to help veteran clients gain a better understanding of the many advantages the VA loan program has over conventions mortgages.
- NAR worked with FEMA to create two flyers - one for REALTORS® and one for homebuyers - that talks about flood risk and flood insurance.