NAR Pres. McMillan Updates HVCC Issues

To:      All REALTORS®

From: Charles McMillan, 2009 NAR President

Re:     UPDATE:  FHFA and GSEs Act on HVCC Concerns

Dear Fellow REALTOR®,

I am writing to you with an important update on NAR’s efforts to address ongoing

problems with recent changes to appraisal rules.

As a direct result of my recent meetings with the New York Attorney General’s office, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and Fannie Mae, both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae this week issued new guidance to all lenders on the Home Valuation Code of Conduct.

The alert clarifies two very important points that we raised in our meetings with

officials.  First, it states that lenders should use appraisers who have

clear experience in the geographic area.  Second, it clarifies that appraisers are

not prohibited from talking to real estate agents.


http://www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/14611/hvcc_NOTICE_7_22_09F.pdf

In addition to this guidance, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently posted

extensive Qs and As on their respective web sites, based on information that NAR

provided when the code was first adopted in May.

https://www.efanniemae.com/sf/guides/ssg/relatedsellinginfo/appcode/pdf/hvccfaqs.pdf

http://www.freddiemac.com/singlefamily/hvcc_faq.html

We have posted links to all of this information at www.Realtor.org/HVCC.

Although this is certainly a step in the right direction, more still needs to be done

to address problems with the HVCC.  NAR will continue to push for a moratorium

on the Code, and I will continue to meet with industry partners and officials to

convey our concerns.

Thanks to all REALTORS® who have shared experiences and concerns with us.

Once again, you have proven that we are the “Voice for Real Estate,” and I am

proud to serve as your 2009 President.

Sincerely,

Charles McMillan, CIPS, GRI
2009 NAR President

NAR President McMillan Clarifies ‘Energy Star’ Bill to GAD’s

Today at the GAD (Government Affairs Directors) Institute in Charleston SC, we had the opportunity to speak with NAR President Charles McMillan both during a luncheon meeting and later at an intimate reception hosted by President McMillan at Charleston’s historic Riviera Ballroom. Personable and unassuming as always, McMillan was quick to praise the efforts of GAD’s and the successful lobbying efforts we have conducted at a local, state and national level. The practice of real estate would be a far more difficult challenge for practitioners if not for the  lobbying efforts of NAR’s Jerry Giovaniello, state lobbyists like California’s Alex Creel & Stan Weig, and the determined efforts of local GAD’s with the support of our you, our members.

nar

One of McMillan’s messages today was to clarify NAR’s position on the Waxman-Markey Cap & Trade Bill, which was recently passed out of the house and currently awaits debate in the Senate. McMillan said he and NAR staff have come under attack for their ‘support’ of this onerous bill but that nothing could be further from the truth and he hoped we could speak directly to you, the membership, to help carry this message.

In fact, neither NAR nor McMillan support the passage of this bill BUT he took great pains to illustrate why the bill in it’s current form represents a significant victory for Realtors over it’s original form. Readers may recall my rant during our DC visits in May about one section of this horrendous and over-reaching piece of crap that would have had extremely deleterious consequences for Realtors and on the housing market in general. This was the so-called ‘energy-star’ labeling proposal which would have required a Point-of-Sale energy audit of every home and commercial structure sold in the US to assess it’s energy efficiency and to mandate unspecified and potentially costly modification be made to bring the structure to some ill-defined standard which would subsequently save the planet.

Cost and efficacy be damned, Homely Henry Waxman is determined that this bill will mark his ascension to the ranks of ‘saviour of the world’ as he knows it regardless of the impact to any of the elements contained in the bill. In fact when we originally argued against this bill in May prior to it’s passage out of committee, the bill was only about 685 pages. Because nobody took the time to read it, the bill expanded to more than 1,000 pages before it passed out of the House. No less a luminary than Time Magazine columnist and Obama sycophant Joe Klein pointed out in a recent article that ‘this bill is an excellent candidate for euthanasia. It is a demonstration of all that’s wrong with the legislative process in latter day America.’

But McMillan pointed to 8 specific areas that he termed significant victories for the Realtor cause. First among these was the deletion of the section mandating energy audits. Whether this bill passes or not, at a minimum, there will be no mandates for costly and time consuming energy audits, no retrofits, and no point-of-sale requirements for either residential or commercial properties. While the bill will drive up energy costs nationwide with no provable positive impact on the environment or anything else, at least it will not add specifically to the cost of housing at a time when housing can least afford these frivolities.

So if you’ve heard that NAR has supported this bill, or that Charles McMillan is a fan of Henry Waxman, I have it from the source that this is definitely not the case. NAR & McMillan are pleased that the efforts of Realtors resulted in the removal of sections of the bill most onerous to the housing element, but that doesn’t mean they are supportive of the remaining 1,000+ pages. As the housing element has been removed, in keeping with our charter, NAR is monitoring the bill to insure that no language is re-inserted that would impact housing but at this time neither supports nor opposes the bill as it has become technically a non-housing related issue.

Thanks to President McMillan for clarifying this matter and to our 1.2 million members and lobbyists for yet another Realtor win on behalf of our clients, the homeowners of America.

NAR Pres Updates on HVCC Appraisal Issues

The Latest from NAR Voices of Real Estate


Appraisal Update, Posted by Charles

Posted: 02 Jul 2009 11:15 AM PDT

I just returned to Texas after a whirlwind trip to the east coast, where I met with the New York Attorney General’s office and officials from the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Fannie Mae. The topic: appraisals, and specifically the concerns and perspectives that you, our REALTORS and appraiser members have raised about the implementation of the HVCC.

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you for sharing your comments on the Voices of Real Estate blog this past week. Steve Brown’s entry, “All’s Not Quiet on the Midwestern Front” has received more than 120 comments – all of them very insightful. In fact, your thoughts were so important to the discussion that we shared them directly with the staff from the New York Attorney General’s office as prime examples of the problems we are seeing. We also shared the results of a recent survey of members, which highlights the overall impact of appraisal challenges on the mortgage transaction.

Those of you who have met me know that I don’t pull any punches. So, let me give you my honest assessment of my meetings:
1. All of the officials we met with wanted to hear about our experiences, and they conceded that there are problems.
2. All agreed that we can and should immediately address gaps in communication and education to help resolve how the HVCC is being applied.
3. How we resolve other more fundamental problems is not yet clear and will likely require a longer-term effort.

So what’s next?

First, in the weeks ahead NAR will be working closely with everyone in the industry, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Appraisal Institute and government officials, to clarify the HVCC and how it should be applied. As many of you noted in your comments on this blog – pointing fingers is not the solution, we have to work together to improve the process for everyone.

Second, NAR is working with Congress to move legislation that would place an 18-month moratorium on the Home Valuation Code of Conduct, so that we can consider how best to modify the HVCC and to resolve additional concerns that many of you have raised about it and other appraisal issues in the current environment.

As always, we will keep you posted on our efforts on this blog and on Realtor.org. I encourage you to check out our HVCC Myths and Facts for more information. We also will be updating our FAQ to answer many of the questions you have raised in your e-mails and posts.

Of course, we encourage you to continue to share your thoughts and experiences with us whenever you can. With your participation, we will move the housing market forward, “United Toward Tomorrow.” – Charles McMillan, 2009 NAR President

NAR Real Estate Summit

NAR has just announced a special all day Real Estate Summit to be held during our upcoming Mid-year meetings in Washington DC. Attendance at these events is free for Realtors and you can register by clicking the link below. If you can’t make it back this year I will be updating regularly via this blog.
midyear speakers
NAR to Hold Real Estate Summit at Midyear Meetings in Washington, DC

Compelled by the insistent fact that housing has always led this nation out of economic troubles, the National Association of Realtors is hosting the “Real Estate Summit: Advancing the U.S. Economy” on Tuesday, May 12 during the Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, DC.

The all-day summit will feature first-rate keynote speakers and two dynamic panels of experts in the areas of finance and real estate, who will be challenged to determine solutions to the present crisis, ensuring we never face this crisis in the future.

The aim of the Summit is twofold: to alleviate the fears, troubles and reluctance of thousands of American home owners and buyers about entering the real estate markets, thus sparking the national economy; and second, to show the nation that NAR cares about the plight of housing in America and is actively doing many things to address this.

The Summit will open with the Legislative & Political Forum hosting a contrast in views from conservative commentator Pat Buchanan and former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.). Both will address the causes of the present crisis and will offer opinions on how to move forward.

Following the Forum, an all-star panel of experts from many fields will address challenges and solutions in “Reshaping Real Estate to Sustain Communities.” The panel draws upon distinguished participants from academia, economics, the real estate industry, and government, and will be moderated by Ron Insana, CNBC, senior analyst and financial industry expert.

In the afternoon session, another panel will examine the topic “Financing Real Estate for Tomorrow.” The composition of both panels will be announced later.

Between the two panels, the HOPE Awards (Home Ownership Participation for Everyone) will acknowledge five 2009 award winners for their efforts in increasing the ranks for minority homeownership. Winners will describe the efficacy of their programs. NAR and its five diversity real estate partners present the awards every two years.

To close the day, the keynote speaker for the late afternoon session of the Summit is Sheila Bair, director, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., who will address NAR’s Member & Director Forum, “59 ½ Minutes.”

The Tuesday Midyear Committee/Business Meeting Schedule has been adjusted so that Midyear attendees can participate in the Real Estate Summit. The revised Midyear Schedule will be available on line by Thursday, April 9, at http://www.realtor.org/midyear.nsf

There is no registration fee for NAR members to attend the Midyear Meetings. To register, visit http://www.realtor.org/midyear.nsf.

Stay tuned to Realtor.org to see further announcements about the Summit and its activities.

NAR Letter to FED / Treasury re: TARP Concerns

March 30, 2009

The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

The Honorable Ben Bernanke
Chairman
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
20th Street and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20551

The Honorable James B. Lockhart, III
Director
Federal Housing Finance Agency
1700 G St., NW
Washington, DC 20552

The Honorable Sheila C. Bair
Chairman
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
550 17th St., NW
Washington, DC 20429

Dear Secretary Geithner, Chairman Bernanke, Director Lockhart, and Chairman Bair:

On behalf the 1.2 million members of the National Association of REALTORS®, thank you for the efforts of the Administration to reduce interest rates and provide liquidity to the mortgage finance system. Government action is a critical part of stabilizing the housing market and establishing the foundation for a broader economic recovery. Recent increases in home sales activity and an expanding pipeline of rate reduction refinancings suggest the promise of a housing recovery that is essential to the recovery of the U.S. economy.

As you know, the complexity of our markets makes it difficult to anticipate and align every component needed for a recovery plan to succeed. We have concerns that efforts by the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and others are not fully reaching Main Street and the American people. There is growing evidence that many large financial institutions are using the leverage they now have, as a result of TARP and other taxpayer supported vehicles, to gain market share and maximize net revenues and margins at the expense of borrowers. As a result, the public is not deriving the full benefits of the Administration’s actions and hard work.

Several recent articles in the Washington Post, the American Banker and CNBC.com all highlight the phenomenon. Large institutions, in an effort to maximize net revenue and avoid the costs of increasing capacity, appear to be using their pricing and market power to limit the flow of mortgage capital at the retail level. A fair assessment of rate spreads would suggest long term mortgage rates should be 4.5% or perhaps even less given the investment and efforts made by your agencies and others. Nevertheless rates still hover near 5% on average in the retail market as large firms use price to deter new mortgage applications instead of building or supporting additional capacity so that borrowers can finance or refinance at more reasonable market rates.

With regard to additional capacity, large financial institutions, including TARP recipients, have taken deliberate steps that reduce capacity system-wide, harming small and midsized retail lenders, ultimately reducing competition and harming consumers. Based on recent HMDA data, these smaller firms account for about 40% of all residential mortgages originated in the U.S. They play an essential role in providing retail capacity and both national and local competition in the mortgage markets. REALTORS® rely on them and their local expertise as they help people in their communities purchase homes or keep their homes.

Small and midsized lenders rely on large FDIC-insured depository institutions for short term “warehouse” credit lines that allow them to provide funds at the closing table. Warehouse lines are replenished as the loans are sold to investors. Many large financial institutions have closed down their warehouse lending and others have announced the intention to do so. Some have even intimated their rationale is to focus more on their own retail lending. The practical effect is not just to reduce capacity and competition, but eliminate competition.

Without warehouse lines or similar access to capital, small and midsized lenders cannot lend and eventually go out of business. It is estimated that hundreds of billions of dollars of warehouse capacity have left the system. If small and midsized lenders are forced out, there will be less competition and more concentration of pricing power in large institutions. There will also be fewer options for consumers and comparatively higher interest rates as relatively few large players dominate the market. Finally, thousands of employees of these small businesses will find their jobs endangered or lost, and homebuyers and homeowners will pay more or be denied the credit they need.

As we enter this critical stage in our housing recovery, we urge you to consider the role you each can play to restore the availability of affordable credit at the retail level and examine what role the GSEs can play in alleviating the bottleneck in retail lending. It is essential that consumersand small businesses derive the benefits from the investment that American taxpayers are making. Consumers and small businesses are the keys to economic recovery and future growth. Low mortgage rates, first-time homebuyer tax credits, and the spring home buying season are coming together in a manner that could finally put a floor under the housing market. However, we face a potential major bottleneck in our mortgage credit delivery system and consumer interest rate costs that are historically higher than the data indicate they should be. We urge you to explore all possible options to impress upon lenders the importance of fully deploying their resources and expertise to address the retail level mortgage credit shortage and costs.

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.


Sincerely,
Charles McMillan, CIPS, GRI
2009 President
National Association of REALTORS®
cc: The Honorable Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

NAR Update on Legislative Action


To:  All REALTORS®

From:Charles McMillan, 2009 NAR President

Re:NAR meets with government and industry leaders to address critical issues.

Dear Fellow REALTOR®,

I have spent the past week in Washington, D.C., in some of the most important meetings to date with top government and industry leaders.

In a special audio edition of my President™s Podcast, I provide details on how NAR is addressing the proposed limitations on the mortgage interest deduction, problems with short sales and REO sales, and the Federal Reserve™s latest announcement that it will purchase more agency mortgage-backed securities.

Please take just a few minutes to listen to the podcast, and forward the link to your colleagues.

http://www.realtor.org/about_nar/presidents_report/_podcast_archive/mcmillan_policyupdate_20090319

Rest assured that NAR continues to work harder than ever, both in the public arena and behind the scenes in Washington, D.C., to stabilize the housing market and address legislative and regulatory issues that impact you.

I will continue to provide you with regular updates on our progress. IIn the meantime, please visit the Government Affairs page on Realtor.org for more details on our efforts and check the President™s Report for additional updates from your 2009 Leadership Team.

Sincerely,
Charles McMillan Signature
Charles McMillan, CIPS, GRI
2009 NAR President

Realtors Working w/Feds on Foreclosure Fixes

Realtors® Pledge Assistance for Obama Guidelines on Foreclosure Fixes

WASHINGTON, March 04, 2009

The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Charles McMillan:

“NAR’s 1.2 million members are eager to help make President Obama’s Making Home Affordable plan a reality. We are pleased that the president released the guidelines today for refinancing and mortgage loan modifications and that the guidelines will be implemented immediately to help struggling homeowners as well as millions of eligible homeowners who have stayed current in their mortgage payments.

“Housing stabilization must be the key component of any federal recovery plan. Helping families keep their homes is critical to this effort and for the health of our economy and communities across the country.

“NAR has long called for a multipronged approach to address the housing and economic crisis. Allowing eligible homeowners to refinance or modify their loans will help millions of families avoid foreclosure. This in turn will support the housing recovery by slowing the growth in inventory due to foreclosures. Lowering unsold inventory will help stabilize home prices and values. We believe that the incentives the loan modification plan offers to borrowers and loan servicers will encourage additional loan modifications, reducing the default rate.

“Moving forward, we must not only work to prevent foreclosures, but also bring financially healthy home buyers to the market to further reduce unsold inventory. Toward this end, we hope that the president and his administration will continue to look for new and creative approaches that will lower interest rates for all homeowners and buyers.”

For more detailed information on the Making Home Affordable plan, visit www.financialstability.gov.

FREE Realtor Tools From NAR.

 

 
 

Dear Fellow REALTOR®,

NAR knows that the current state of the economy has affected you and your real estate business. We recognize the challenges you are facing and are here to help.  

Effective immediately, NAR is launching the Right Tools Right Now initiative for our 1.2 million members.

This Association-wide program provides over 300 NAR publications, resources and services to you for FREE, at cost, or at significantly reduced pricing. Our goal is to make NAR’s robust roster of business-building tools available to you Right Now.

The Right Tools Right Now program includes offers and information in the following categories:

Convention & Events
Technology Services
Research Tools
Enhanced Services
Online Training
Educational Tools & Publications
Articles & Information

Use the following link for complete details on this initiative: www.REALTOR.org/RightTools

Here you’ll find hundreds of NAR products, resources and services offered for FREE, at cost, or at a significant discount. New offers will be made available in the weeks and months ahead, so be sure to check back often.

Look for this icon to easily know if a product or resource is part of the Right Tools, Right Now initiative.

On behalf of the Leadership Team of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, we encourage every member to take advantage of these resources. We are pleased to offer the Right Tools, Right Now to support you and your business throughout 2009.

Contact Information Central at 1-800-874-6500 or access www.REALTOR.org/RightTools should you have any questions on this initiative.

Sincerely,

Charles McMillan Signature
Charles McMillan, CIPS, GRI
2009 NAR President

Dale Stinton, CEO
National Association of REALTORS®

Ex-Prez Wunderlich Talks About the Same Program

Let me begin by saying I like our NAR President Charles McMillan. I think he’s a good guy, he works hard for us and he truly believes in the Realtor Party. Having said that I must beg to differ with some of the recent utterings from the national office regarding Realtors ‘success’ with the recent stimulus bill.

In his most recent update, posted immediately before this one, he refers to the major gains by Realtors in the bill:

Dear Fellow REALTOR®,

For nearly four months, NAR has been working to deliver to you and to our nation a comprehensive plan to stabilize the housing market.

This week, we saw countless hours of hard work pay off “ in a MAJOR way “ when the federal government implemented NAR’s recommendations to stimulate housing with the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

  1. Lower interest rates for home mortgages;
  2. A greater ability to get financing through FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in high-cost areas;
  3. A true tax credit incentive to buy a home NOW; and
  4. Foreclosure mitigation and short-sale standards.

As on wag summarized in response to another post of mine on the topic – ‘well, we didn’t get what was on the table but at least we didn’t lose what wasn’t on the table’. So lets’ look at these a little closer.

1. Did we really get lower interest rates? Or have interest rates actually been edging lower since the Fed reduced the prime to .025% last year? Where in the economic stimulus package does it mandate lower interest rates? And are interest rates even the problem right now? Interest rates are, and have been, pretty darn good for awhile now. Banks not loaning money is the problem, not  high interest rates. Sorry, Charles. That dog don’t hunt.

2. Greater ability to get FHA & GSE financing? Well, partly true I suppose. Actually nothing new or the result of the stimulus, but we did get the increased GSE limits extended at least through the end of this year. Of course as Paul Harvey might say, we need to see page 2. That’s the page that talks about Fannie & Freddie increasing mandatory fees and toughening credit score and down payment rules. For example, if an applicant doesn’t have 30% to put down, they pay higher fees. Got a 699 FICO but you can make a 25% down payment? You still get hit with a 1.5% ‘delivery fee’ at closing. If your FICO is between 700 – 720, you’ll still pay an extra 3/4 point. If you’re buying a condo and you don’t have 25% down payment, you’ll pay an extra 3/4 point regardless of your FICO. Does this sound like a ‘greater ability to get financing’ to you? Me neither.

3. A true tax credit? Well, this one is correct. Last year you recall the $7,500 kinda tax credit that you got one time and then paid back over three years. Not so much a credit as an interest free loan that buyers ignored in droves. This year the credit was extended to $8,000 and if you stay in your home 5 years, you don’t have to pay it back. That’s pretty good. Of course it’s still only for first time homebuyers rather than trying to stimulate the full buy-side of the equations. And it’s certainly not the $15,000 carrot that was dangled so enticingly in front of our faces to get us to call our legislators to urge them to vote for the porkulus bill. Heck, it’s not even as good as what the home builders got included in the California budget bill which is a $10,000 credit for buyers of NEW homes – but I guess this is as close to a win as we can get on this one.

4. Foreclosure mitigation and short sale standards? Oh puhleeze. Short sale standards? In what alternative universe do these exist? Have ANY of you seen anything even approaching even modest short-sale cooperation? We can’t even get standards on REO’s and that’s a walk in the park compared to short sales.

Foreclosure mitigation? Hmmmm, that must be the continuing moratoria on deed sales. I guess if you get to live in your house rent free for an extra 90 days that’s a form of mitigation. He can’t be referring to the $275 Billion program announced by Obama last week encouraging banks to modify loans. That’s the one that’s aimed at Fannie & Freddie borrowers, of which there are virtually NONE in our region. That’s the one that makes it incumbent upon banks to modify loans that fall within a loan-to-value range of 80% to 105%. Yeah, that’s gonna be a BEEEG help for people in Southwest County, or California in general, with LTV’s of -150%.

So while I am busy looking for the silver lining, while I am focusing on the positives and the greatly improved sales figures over twelve months ago, a modicum of reality does need to be interjected into the debate. Lawrence Yun has already been neutered by his continuing Pollyanna pronouncements in the face of reality. NAR runs the risk of being totally marginalized if they continue to blow smoke up our nether regions as if those of us in the field don’t actually KNOW BETTER. If the four points enumerated by Charles McMillan above constitute a ‘big win’ for Realtors, then the sad fact is we got our asses handed to us on a platter and we’re trying to decide which condiment will make the dish most palatable.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

The opinions in this commentary are strictly Gene Wunderlich’s personal opinions. While any reasonable and/or rational indivdual should agree wholeheartedly,
the opinons reflected herein may not necessarily be those of the Southwest Riverside County AOR, or any local or state government or other mental institution.

President McMillan Talks About the Porkulus, errr Stimulus Bill

Dear Fellow REALTOR®,

For nearly four months, NAR has been working to deliver to you and to our nation a comprehensive plan to stabilize the housing market.

This week, we saw countless hours of hard work pay off – in a MAJOR way – when the federal government implemented NAR’s recommendations to stimulate housing with the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

This bold and unprecedented move to help housing did not happen by chance. Just a few months ago, the auto industry had Congress’ ear. Yet, thanks to countless meetings, letters, phone calls, and public pressure that we – the REALTORS® of America – placed on lawmakers in Washington, D.C., housing emerged as the top priority in the new Administration and in Congress. While some of the items in the Act are controversial and are currently being debated, most of our top priorities were addressed.

Thanks to all of our hard work, America’s homebuyers and homeowners will soon have:

  1. Lower interest rates for home mortgages;
  2. A greater ability to get financing through FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in high-cost areas;
  3. A true tax credit incentive to buy a home NOW; and
  4. Foreclosure mitigation and short-sale standards.


As a direct result of NAR’s advocacy, we hope REALTORS® will see an increase in home sales this year. NAR also continues to make significant progress on our efforts to unclog the pipeline for foreclosures and to address administrative problems with short sales.

Such significant movement on these critical issues is rare. I personally thank and congratulate each and every member of the National Association of REALTORS® for helping to make NAR’s Housing Stimulus Plan a reality. For more information and details on these new laws and programs, visit the Unlock America’s Economy Page on Realtor.org:

http://www.realtor.org/government_affairs/gapublic/gses_conservatorship?LID=RONav0023

Make no mistake — we’re just getting started. NAR will continue to push for other important laws and policies that can help you in your business. From keeping banks out of real estate to providing you with affordable health coverage, you can count on the “Voice for Real Estate” to help you gain an advantage in every kind of market.

That’s the power of NAR, and it’s why I am proud to be a member and to serve as your 2009 President.

Once again, thank you all, and keep up the great work!

Sincerely,
Charles McMillan Signature
Charles McMillan, CIPS, GRI
2009 NAR President

NAR / Stimulus Spin Doctors at Work

I know many of you were disappointed by the recent results (as far as they are known) with the massive Obama Stimulus Package for a number of reason (see Lenn’s excellent posts on the details). Of particular concern to Realtors was the push by NAR & CAR for us to contact our legislators and encourage them to vote for this measure when many of us felt it was not in either our best interest or the best interest of our country. The carrot often mentioned was the inclusion of the $15,000 home buyer tax credit that was widely anticipated to jump-start our nascent housing market and provide a true stimulus.

Given that motive, many of us held our noses and encouraged passage of a responsible stimulus package that eliminated the pork, the excesses, the waste and contained real provision for economic stimulus. Many of us understand that the collapse of the housing industry precipitated the wider declines in our economy and only by stimulating housing and jobs would we climb back out. Clearly that was not the prevalent sentiment among the Democrats (and 3 Republicans) in DC.

I’ve been awaiting the spin doctors at NAR to put a bright smiley face on this pig and here it is. President McMillans points are valid as far as they go. What is not addressed is the massive waste, the barrels of pork, the true lack of stimulus and the long-term cost to you and me that this bill will produce. Apparently even the large amounts of cash handed out by NAR was not enough to carry the day against the forces of greed, avarice, gluttony and corruption we are seeing played out in our nations capitol. It’s a sad day.

Dear Fellow REALTOR®,

Here’s our take on the Stimulis Bill and Treasury announcements made this week. We look at the Stimulis package AND the Treasury’s package holistically, in compliment with each other – mostly because that’s how the Obama team is looking at it. Your representatives, the NAR Board of Directors, asked us in November to do 4 things (with an unspoken but clearly understood mandate to PRESERVE what we already have). Here they are: 1) get loan limits raised for high cost areas, 2) make the $7,500 tax credit NOT a loan, 3) try to find ways to push interest rates down (which are higher than they should be due to systemic risk right now) by 200 basis points, and 4) help provide solutions to the foreclosure/short sale problem.

So here’s what we have achieved: 1) the loan limits will be raised to $727,000 in high cost areas, 2) the tax credit will be raised to $8,000 with NO payback [a true credit], 3) interest rates have come down 125-150 basis points, and 4) the bill has over $50 billion in it for foreclosure mitigation, with Geitners Treasury plan signaling that the second half of TARP and TALF will be used to mitigate foreclosures through a government guarantee, drive down interest rates by buying another $200-300 billion of mortgage paper from the GSES’s thereby freeing them up to do the same with new mortgages, and Fannie has just agreed to lift the cap of 4 investment properties eligible for loans and raise it to 10.

In addition, we preserved what we have – which some tend to forget is always on the table when these negotiations start up again – mortgage interest deductability, real estate tax deductability, and the $250,000/$500,000 cap gains exclusion (an overall package worth more than $100 billion and for some a very attractive funding source for their pet projects).

We did make a run at the $15,000 credit — and we would have loved to have gotten that or the Homebuilders $22,000 credit idea as well as their 5 year loss carryback deal, but they were considered too rich for this program. What it did do though is totally take the debate off of whether a tax credit should be reinstated at all (it expired last year) and whether it was a true credit or a repayable loan, and kept the conversation on how much it should be. It also kept the debate off of ‘what we are willing to give up to get a $15,000 tax credit’ and kept the debate again, on how much it should be. It’s pretty hard to complain when they give you what you ask for and you lose something you never had.

While we study the Treasury specifics on their major role in providing the rest of the housing solution — there is much more to come and we are working diligently with the Administration to help ‘unclog the pipeline’ and get capital flowing into housing again.

Charles McMillan

Thanks Charles – So we didn’t get what was on the table but at least they didn’t take away what wasn’t on the table. Gotta be thankful for small favors I guess.

Of course that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

The opinions in this commentary are strictly Gene Wunderlich’s personal opinions. While any reasonable and/or rational indivdual should agree wholeheartedly,
the opinons reflected herein may not necessarily be those of the Southwest Riverside County AOR, or any local or state government or other mental institution.

National Leadership – Working for YOU.

Reposted from the NAR Voice of Real Estate blogsite. Charles McMillan is our 2009 NAR President.

Working for YOU, Posted by Charles

Posted: 09 Feb 2009 10:52 AM CST

Yesterday, I met with Sheila Bair, chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. – one of our closest contacts in the Obama Administration. We talked at length about the problems that REALTORS® are facing on the ground, including problems with short sales and loan modifications. I am happy to report that she recognized these problems and said they are developing some new ideas that could help resolve them.

I will continue to update you on development in this area, and I invited Ms. Blair to provide you with a direct update on these efforts at NAR’s Midyear Meetings this May. Stay tuned for more information on that in the months ahead.

My meeting with Chairman Blair capped an incredible two-week run here in Washington, D.C., where nearly 1,000 REALTORS® met, planned, and acted on a single goal: Helping YOU in your businesses.

Here are just a few of the things we have been working on to help you:

• NAR continued our push to keep housing a top priority in the final economic stimulus bill, expanding the tax credit to $15,000, and making permanent the 2008 GSE and FHA loan limits.

• NAR’s political and committee leaders met to formalize our 2009 policy agenda, based on a recent survey of all members. Not surprisingly, the economy, keeping banks out of real estate, and protecting the mortgage interest deduction top the list of priorities.

• I met with state presidents and association executives, and with the leaders of several minority real estate organizations, to get their thoughts on the major challenges our members are facing and what NAR can do to help.

• I participated in a satellite media tour to promote our housing stimulus plan on TV stations across the country. I also met with nearly a dozen reporters here in Washington, D.C., to promote our position on the economic stimulus package and other key issues, like banks in Real Estate.

• We made final preparations on our brand new consumer radio program, Real Estate Today, which will debut next week on XM Sirius and WMAL 630 in Washington, D.C. This program will help us bring consumers back into the market.

NAR’s Strategic Planning Committee laid the foundation for our organization to move in new directions to help members in this new environment and in the years ahead. [link to 2009 Strategic Plan]

• The REALTORS® Federal Credit Union Board met, and we are on track to open May 1 of this year, providing vital services to REALTORS.

• The Leadership Team also approved a new initiative to give you the Right Tools, Right Now to help you in your business. Look for more details on that later this month.

These are just some of the things NAR has been working on – both in public and behind the scenes – to help you, our members. I know many of you are working just as hard to address challenges in your communities. If you have ideas, let us know. You can comment right here on the Voices blog, or send an e-mail to presidentsreport@realtors.org.

It will take all of us to get through this difficult time and build a brighter future for all members. I promise that NAR will keep pushing harder than ever. I hope all of you will join us. – Charles McMillan, 2009 NAR President

NAR Introduces Real Estate Today Radio Program

As announced at our recent Business Meetings in Orlando, NAR will be launching a nationally heard radio series called Real Estate Today next week. Initially the show will be carried primarily on XM/Sirius stations but they hope to be expanding the list of carriers to include more mainstream radio outlets as well. For a preview of the program, follow the link.

Last month, I sent you an e-mail explaining some of the things that NAR will be doing in 2009 to help our members succeed through these challenging times. Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of one of those initiatives – NAR’s weekly two-hour talk radio show, Real Estate Today.

Real Estate Today will premiere the weekend of February 14-15. We’ll show consumers why REALTORS® are the most credible, trusted source of real estate information, and convince them that using a REALTOR® when buying, selling, or investing in real estate is the smartest decision they can make.

We’ll also be building consumer confidence in the market and in the long-term value of real estate to help bring buyers back into the market.

LISTEN TO A SNEAK PREVIEW/EXCERPT FROM THE SHOW

Real Estate Today will air online at www.RETRadio.com – visit the site anytime after the premiere to listen to current or past programs.

Beginning on February 14, satellite radio subscribers can hear Real Estate Today on America’s Talk, XM Channel 158, Saturdays 5-7 p.m. EST; Talk Radio, XM Channel 165, Saturdays 1-3 p.m. EST; and Stars, Sirius-XM Channel 102, Saturdays 6-8 a.m. and Sundays 9-11 a.m. EST.

If you’re in the Washington, D.C., area, you can listen to Real Estate Today on the show’s flagship station, 630 WMAL AM, every Sunday from 1-3 p.m., EST, beginning February 15.

We’re working to quickly expand the list of stations that will carry the program locally. Find out how you can help.

REALTORS® can also advertise on the show.

We welcome your input! If you have local market insights or program content suggestions, e-mail RealEstateToday@realtors.org

Sincerely,
Charles McMillan Signature
Charles McMillan, CIPS, GRI
2009 NAR President

NAR Thanks Realtors For 4 Point Plan Support

NAR President McMillan thanks Realtors for support in recent Call to Action.

Realtor Action Center

Members recently received a ‘thank you’ from NAR President Charles McMillan for our support of NAR’s Four Point Plan to Congress. The two week effort generated over 330,000 letters to Congress, one of the highest percentages of participation ever logged for an NAR Red Alert.

“On behalf of NAR, I want to thank you for being engaged in our legislative efforts to offer solutions to turn the current economic climate around and get things back on track,” stated McMillan. “I know many of our members are struggling to handle the current economic challenges. NAR will continue to work hard to ensure the right housing stimulus measures will be included in any ongoing legislation being considered by Congress and the new administation.”

This response was especially timely since there are many new members of Congress just starting their jobs on Capitol Hill this week who may not be familiar with the Realtor Grassroots organization or have an appreciation for the power of over 1 million strong. This serves as an introduction to them as well as a wake up call to some of the existing members who may have misplaced their priorities. 

There was an article in the paper today about the National Association of Homebuilders, who are requesting some of the bail-out money on behalf of their beleaguered industry. In it the statement was made that the NAHB is hoping Congress will lower mortgage interest rates to as low as 3% this year for a fixed rate as part of a housing market stimulus.

The NAHB had initially wanted an interest rate in the 4.5% range but the Four Point Plan discussed and voted on at our NAR Mid-winter meetings set a target rate of 2.99% for the first year (fixed) followed by a 3.9% rate for a second year (fixed). We felt that while a rate of 4.5% was certainly attractive and might stimulate some buyer activity, a tipping point would definitely be reached at 3% to would act as a catalyst to get the market moving again, increase absorption of excess inventory and speed our return to more normal market conditions. 

By the way, if you haven’t yet let YOUR voice be heard by Darryl Issa, Mary Bono, Ken Calvert, Barbara Boxer or Dianne Feinstein, you can follow this link to the a description of the Four Point Plan and the Realtor Action Center. It’s never too late to make the call – and it’s never too late to make YOUR $49 investment in the Realtor Action Center. At the federal, state and local level this will be a challenging year for Realtors trying to avoid becoming the target of revenue enhancement schemes by legislators. Invest $49 to help us protect the rest of your income.

Remember – If you’re not at the table, you’ll probably be on the menu.