Mortgage Debt Relief. Wassup?

Another question hanging about our heads this year-end involves extension of Mortgage Debt Forgiveness, that measure that allows lenders not to 1099 you for the mortgage debt relief sellers who have gone through a short sale or foreclosure receive.

At this point with all eyes focused on the fiscal cliff, it is unlikely anything specific to this measure will be passed this year. If there is a continuing resolution (kick the can down the road for 90 days and let the new Congress deal with it), debt forgiveness could/would likely be a part of that. Otherwise we just get to wait until after the first of the year. NAR is pushing very hard for this – it was the subject of a recent call to action for Realtors nationwide, and we are moderately optimistic it will be extended by the new congress but by no means assured. Join the club with all the other individuals, businesses, charities, military members and others awaiting their fate at the whim of the administration and the able hands of Congress.

I know this is very nerve wracking for people involved in short sales or foreclosures right now who don’t know if their phantom income (debt relief) will be taxed or not. Imagine shortselling your home at a loss of $100,000 to your lender. If you close prior to December 31st, you have no tax liability on that money. If you close after January 1, that $100,000 could be added to your regular income and taxed at your increased rate – a potential difference of $20,000+. And right now nobody knows what’s going to happen. Merry Christmas. I’ll provide any updates as they become available.

You can let Congress know how you feel about this by clicking here:

 Do No Harm To Housing

$40 political survival proposal – updated.

Many of you have commented on my earlier blog regarding the proposed $40 dues increase to fund the Realtor Political Survival Campaign. As you recall, that will be voted on in May at our annual meeting in DC. Yesterday we had a 1 1/2 hour webinar with NAR leadership discussing why the additional funding was necessary. At that time the possibility of putting the Public Awareness campaign on haitus for a couple years and using those funds for political purposes was presented as a sort of plan B. According to NAR stats however, that public awareness campaign is a great success – although most of you would just as soon it went away.

Anyway, for those of you opposed to an additional $40 hit on your dues, it appears your voices have been heard, Now you just need to make sure your local association and your NAR Directors are aware of your feelings.

From NAR President Ron Phipps:

To:        Local Board and State Association Presidents

This letter constitutes the official notice required by Article II, Section 10 of the Bylaws of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® of a proposal to eliminate a previously approved membership assessment.

In May of 2010 the NAR Board of Directors approved an assessment of $35 per member for 2011-2013 to be used to continue the Public Awareness Campaign during those years.  The Finance Committee has now offered two alternative proposals regarding funding for the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative.  One proposal eliminates the Public Awareness Campaign $35 Assessment for 2012 and 2013.  That proposal also increases NAR dues by $35 per year to fund the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative.

The other proposal offered by the Finance Committee is being recommended by the NAR Executive Committee.  That proposal would increase NAR Dues by $40 per year to fund the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative.  The Public Awareness Campaign $35 Assessment would remain in effect during 2012 and 2013.

Dues, membership assessments and amendments to membership assessments for the National Association are adopted by the Board of Directors of the National Association.  These issues will be coming before the Board of Directors at its meeting on May 14, 2011.


Ron Phipps
2011 NAR President

Realtors! Please answer your Call for Action.

Stay Active. Answer the CFA!, Posted by Vince

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 07:18 AM PDT

Doctors consistently tell us that we can keep ourselves healthy if we stay active. Without consistent exercise, our health deteriorates.

It’s the same in politics. If REALTORS® continue to stay active on Capitol Hill, we can help bring our industry back to health and maintain its health. If our participation slides, our businesses slide.

We sent out a Call for Action on Monday to all REALTORS® on the mortgage interest deduction. It tells Congress not to trim the MID one bit. It also asks members of the House of Representatives to back House Resolution 25 which supports the MID in its current form.

We’ve already seen a strong participation rate on this one. But when we say we need “everyone” on board answering the Call for Action, we mean it. This is a serious issue that will affect homeowners, consumers, and every single REALTOR® in America.

There’s no association for home owners out there. There’s only us. NAR represents the 75 million home owners.

So it’s crucial that REALTORS® remain active and answer the CFA today. Now is your moment to let your member of Congress know what’s important to you.

If you need more convincing, check out the letter-to-the-editor on the MID in the Chicago Tribune from NAR’s Chief Economist. Do you think it’s a good time to ask homeowners to cough up another $3,050? I don’t either.

Thank you for your participation! I promise you, it’s making a big difference. — Vince Malta, 2011 NAR Vice President and Liaison to Government Affairs

Realtors® Oppose High Down Payment Requirement for Qualified Residential Mortgage Exemption

Washington, March 29, 2011

High down payment requirements being proposed by federal regulatory agencies as part of the upcoming rulemaking under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will unnecessarily burden homebuyers and significantly impede the economic and housing recovery, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Six agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Housing Finance Agency, Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are developing a proposed risk retention regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act that requires lenders that securitize mortgage loans to retain 5 percent of the credit risk unless the mortgage is a qualified residential mortgage (QRM); FHA and VA mortgages would also be exempted. The purpose is to create strong incentives for responsible lending and borrowing.

“As the leading advocate for home ownership NAR supports a reasonable and affordable cash investment requirement coupled with quality credit standards, strong documentation and sound underwriting,” said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “A narrow definition of QRM, with an unnecessarily high down payment requirement, will increase the cost and reduce the availability of mortgage credit, significantly delaying a housing recovery.”

NAR believes that Congress intended to create a broad QRM exemption from the 5 percent risk retention requirement to include a wide variety of traditionally safe, well-underwritten products. Congress chose not to include a high down payment among the criteria it specified in the Dodd-Frank Act to guide the regulators in defining a QRM. Strong evidence shows that responsible lending standards and ensuring a borrower’s ability to repay have the greatest impact on reducing lender risk.

“We need to strike a balance between reducing investor risk and providing affordable mortgage credit. Better underwriting and credit quality standards have greatly reduced risk. Adding unnecessarily high minimum down payment requirements will only exclude hundreds of thousands of buyers from home ownership, despite their creditworthiness and proven ability to afford the monthly payment, because of the dramatic increase in the wealth required to purchase a home,” said Phipps.

The definition of QRM is important because it will determine the types of mortgages that will generally be available to borrowers in the future. Borrowers with less than 20 percent down could be forced to pay higher fees and interest rates, up to 3 percentage points more, for safe loans that otherwise do not meet too narrow QRM criteria.

NAR is concerned that a narrowly defined QRM will also require severe tightening of FHA eligibility requirements and higher FHA premiums to prevent huge increases in its already robust share of the market, adding additional roadblocks to sustainable home ownership.

“Saving the necessary down payment has always been the principal obstacle to buyers seeking to purchase their first home. Proposals requiring high down payments will only drive more borrowers to FHA, increase costs for borrowers by raising interest rates and fees, and effectively price many eligible borrowers out of the housing market,” said Phipps. “We strongly urge the regulators to consider the negative consequences of setting onerous limits on the availability of credit.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

NAR Realtor Party Political Survival Initiative – A Penny for your Thoughts.

It’s entirely probable you’ve heard about the new NAR Realtor® Party Political Survival Initiative introduced at the AE Institute this past Sunday. While NAR has not made a broad announcement of the program yet, our AE’s are returning from their meetings this week with information on the initiative and word has been getting out from Inman, from the blogs, and of course on itself.

According to NAR, the initiative was launched partially in response to last years Supreme Court decision, the celebrated Citizens United Case. As forecast, that decision stands as a game changer in the lobbying world granting corporations the same rights as individuals to contribute to political campaigns. The price of doing business has just gone up and if you want to stay at the table with the serious players, you’d better step up your game.

That’s what NAR is proposing by instituting a mandatory $40 dues increase effective 2012. The issue will be voted on at NAR’s Mid-Year Legislative meetings in May.

The following is a post by NAR stating their reasons for launching the initiative. I would encourage you to read it. I have also included the slide show presented to our AE’s in Dallas this past Sunday. I have no doubt this will be hotly debated as we approach our May meetings and I encourage you to make you opinions knows to me, to your local associations as well as your state and NAR Directors. Make sure to note that 2/3 of the funds raised will be channeled back to your state and local associations for local purposes.

Why did NAR create the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative?
•  In January of 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission.
•  The ruling states that corporate dollars—so-called soft dollars—can be used to fund independent expenditure campaigns.
•  This not only changes the way elections are financed at the national level, but it also overturns restrictions that allowed only hard dollars—those funds contributed for political purposes by individuals, rather than corporations—to be used in 23 states.
•  This means political fundraising as we have known it for the past 100 years just shifted dramatically.
•  Corporate funds/dues can now be used to shape opinions about candidates in ALL 50 states.
•  It is a game changer of gigantic proportions.
•  It is as if the goal posts on a 100 yard football field were expanded to now cover 140 yards.
•  In order for “The Voice for Real Estate” to have the impact it has had for the past 100 years in terms of political advocacy, the REALTOR® organization is stepping up its game.
•  No one has spoken with more power or as passionately about protecting private property rights and fighting for opening the door to the American Dream of Home Ownership than the REALTOR® Family.
•  To maintain and grow our political power in this new landscape, NAR launched the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative.
•  The REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative did not just happen overnight.
•  It was the result of nearly a year of careful study and consideration.

What does the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative mean for members?
•  The proposal is for a dedicated dues increase of $40.00.
•  The increase would take effect in the 2012 budget year.
•  Because it is “dedicated” to this initiative, it would be used exclusively to fund political advocacy efforts.
•  In the past, NAR has already contributed funds to this initiative out of its operating budget.
•  But to undertake the initiative at this level and give it a best chance for success, greater additional funding is needed.
•  The increased dollars will be dedicated solely to advocacy purposes as outlined by the Political Survival Initiative.
•  If this dues increase is approved, over 50% of NAR budget would be devoted to political advocacy, which consistently ranks among members as the #1 benefit they receive from NAR.

What are the benefits of the Political Survival Initiative?
•  The most powerful benefit is it will keep the REALTOR® organization as one of the most influential advocacy groups in America.
•  There are monumental issues coming down the pike that will affect members in their daily businesses, such as the future of mortgage finance and keeping housing affordable in America.
•  We must have the power to shape this pivotal moment for the American Dream of Home Ownership.
•  Most importantly, these dollars will be available to state associations and local boards.
•  2/3rds of the dollars raised will be returned back to states to be used in support of local candidates and issue campaigns, and for other political advocacy needs—to help shape the opinions of candidates on real estate-related issues as they work their way up as elected leaders.
•  It will combine NAR funds with state/local funds to increase our political power
•  It will create early relationships with state and local lawmakers/policymakers
•  It will shape the political make-up of state or local governing bodies.
•  NAR President Ron Phipps often comments that “now is our time.”
•  With this initiative, REALTORS® are seizing the moment for home ownership.
•  We are doing this NOT ONLY because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, but because our core competency is our grass roots advocacy; it’s where we need to be investing today so our future advocacy efforts will be successful tomorrow.
•  We need to be grooming our “REALTOR® Champions” at the state / local levels now, before some of them progress to become elected leaders at the federal level.
•  The political press in Washington has already noted the emerging clout of the REALTOR® Party.
•  A recent article in Politico said: “REALTORS®… are going to want to be politically effective, and a large measure of their influence is that they are present everywhere.”
•  Now is our time to seize the day.

2010 Recap Realtor Report

If you click on that little red Realtor Report just above the chart, you’ll get to a slightly larger version of the report which will be easier for your old eyes to read. You’re welcome.

NAR Pres. Elect Moe Veissi Talks Turkey at CAR Mid-Winter

Take-aways from our recent California Association of Realtors Mid-winter meetings.

From NAR President-elect Moe Veissi –

Six of the past eight recessions have ended due to increasing strength in the housing market. The other two were due to wars. That seems like an easy choice. We need to get behind housing. This battle against housing is counterproductive and the attack on the mortgage interest deduction is an attack on one of the basic foundations of the American Dream.

Similarly we should seek to preserve the basics of the GSE’s.They can certainly be improved upon but their services are vital to home buyers. They provide a foundation and critical financial instruments that allow many people to buy homes that otherwise would not be able to. Keep in mind that during the height of the meltdown, Fannie and Freddie had take-back rates of about 3 1/2% while at the same time banks like B of A and Wells were taking back 15% to 18%.

You hear people today who don’t know the history, who don’t know any better – oh, Canada doesn’t have a 30 year fixed mortgage and their housing market is great. Oh, Europe doesn’t have a Fannie/Freddie and their market is great. The fact is, their markets don’t compare with ours. Never have. Nobody does it like us. These other countries are trying to figure out how to do it like we do and we’re trying to figure out how to kill our system and adopt the systems others are trying to get rid of. So why would we try to emulate markets with which we have nothing in common? Why would we destroy 100 years of success to become more like an inferior market? It just doesn’t make sense.

These are not short term problems we are dealing with and they will keep rearing their heads. We have saddled ourselves with tremendous debt so attacks on basic and short term sources of tax revenue will be ongoing. Don’t believe them when they tell you – oh, we aren’t going to take it all away. Just this little bit. Yeah, just that little bit this time. Then  a little more, then a little more, you know how that works.

Realtors just don’t realize the power we have in our communities and our country. But we’ve got to stand up and be counted if we want to be heard. We need to present Congress with 1/2 million Realtor calls on issues instead of 100,000. When we can consistently deliver 1/2 million member voices or more to our Congressional leaders, they will know we mean business.

Realtors Efforts Could Be Next Wave in Fundraising

Great article in the Politico yesterday entitled Realtors’ effort could be next wave in fundraising’

A year ago this week, the Supreme Court freed corporate America to fully engage in campaigns, prompting dire predictions that Big Oil, Wal-Mart or even foreign firms would suddenly flood the political marketplace.

That didn’t happen. But at least one industry sector quietly and without controversy became a major player in the 2010 midterms – in a way that some campaign-finance experts believe could be the wave of the future for 2012 and beyond.

The model: the “Realtors’ Party,” the moniker the National Association of Realtors gave to its $6.5 million election effort, which backed a bipartisan slate of 103 pro-Realtor candidates and saw election of 66 of them.

“The business community is figuring out they need to be their own best advocate,” said Greg Casey, president of the Business Industry Political Action Committee, which helps companies set up voter registration and education programs aimed at their employees. “There is a lot going on. In some cases, the Realtors could be the model.”

Read more:




Lawrence Yun responds to MID criticism.

January 2, 2011

It’s a common misperception that the mortgage interest deduction benefits primarily the wealthy, as argued in the Washington Post’s January 1 editorial, “Trim the Excessive Tax Subsidy for Real Estate.”

In fact, the MID actually benefits primarily middle- and lower income families. Sixty five percent of families who claim the MID earn less than $100,000 per year, and 91 percent who claim the benefit earn less than $200,000 per year. As a percentage of income, the biggest MID beneficiaries are younger middle-class families.

The MID helps many families become home owners by reducing the carrying costs of owning a home. The ability to deduct the interest paid on a mortgage can mean significant savings at tax time. For example, a family who bought a home last year with a $200,000, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, assuming an interest rate of 5 percent, could save nearly $3,500 in federal taxes when they file next year. That’s real money they can use to pay down other debts, save for their children’s college education, or put away for retirement.

It’s no wonder, then, that most Americans support the MID. In fact, in a recent NAR survey by Harris Interactive of 3,000 home owners and renters, nearly three-fourths of home owners and two-thirds of renters said the MID was extremely or very important to them.

Unlike the very rich, much of whose wealth is tied to the stock market, the wealth of most middle-class American families is connected to their home. Millions of these Americans bought their homes with the understanding that mortgage interest is tax-deductible, and many of them have steadily paid down their mortgages to build equity in their home. Eliminating or reducing the MID would destroy part of this hard-earned equity for all home owners, independent of their tax filing status.

Furthermore, we also need to be mindful that home owners already pay 80 percent to 90 percent of U.S. federal income tax, and this share could rise to 95 percent if the MID is eliminated. Proposals that would remove certain tax benefits in return for lower tax rates just may hold for one or two terms of Congress before the tax rates are changed again. Americans are not naïve; they understand the nature of Washington politics.

For people who don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings to buy a home outright, tax benefits like the MID help them begin building their futures through home ownership. In a time when the middle class faces increased economic pressures, you can be sure that the National Association of Realtors® will remain actively engaged to ensure that hard-working, home-owning families continue to receive this important benefit.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun

2010 NAR Public Policy Accomplishments

Throughout 2010, NAR made significant progress educating Congress and the Obama Administration that a stable and sustainable housing market is the primary building block for any economic recovery. NAR had a series of successes in the regulatory and legislative fields, some of which are highlighted below.

As we look ahead to 2011, NAR will continue to advocate policy initiatives that benefit REALTORS® and consumers in the residential and commercial real estate industry.

Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection – On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010. This comprehensive reform of the nation’s financial services sector is the most sweeping since the financial reforms ushered in during the Great Depression. NAR worked with both Democrat and Republican members of the House and Senate committees responsible for the legislation to secure a “real estate professional exclusion” ensuring that the daily business of REALTORS® was not negatively impacted by this historic piece of legislation.

Me etings with Lenders – Starting in the summer of 2010, NAR’s elected leadership initiated a series of meetings with large lenders and servicers to discuss issues of concern for REALTORS®. The topics included origination issues (underwriting standards, appraisal issues, credit policy, condo financing); short sales; bank-owned properties; and the impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act. NAR and the banks are discussing how we can work together to make significant improvements in all of these areas. The goal is to increase our mutual success and help support market recovery.

Health Insurance Reform – NAR successfully raised the profile of the challenges that face the self-employed and small employers, including REALTORS®, throughout the 111th Congress’ debate over health care reform. As a result, the underwriting and rating reforms in the final bill — guaranteed issue policies, ban on pre-existing condition exclusions, limited age rating, etc. — are in line with NAR’s policy principles and will give the self-employed access to insurance with most of the characteristics of a group plan. In addition, individual affordability credits and tax credits for small employers will help to make health insurance more affordable for many NAR members who are currently uninsured.

First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit – In November 2009, the $8,000 credit was again extended for purchasers through April 30, 2010. Those under contract by April 30 retained eligibility for the credit, so long as the transaction closed before July 1, 2010. An additional $6,500 credit was created for current homeowners purchasing a new or existing home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010. These buyers were also subjected to the July 1, 2010 settlement requirement. In June 2010, NAR noticed that many purchasers who had signed contracts on or before April 30 were unable to close their transactions, particularly in short sales. At NAR’s urging, Congress extended the closing date requirement through September 30, 2010.

Protecting the Mortgage Interest Deduction – The Administration’s proposed budgets for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 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 limitation proposal was based on an individual’s tax bracket. Itemized deductions for individuals in tax brackets above 28% would have not have received the value of their higher tax brackets. Rather, the “value” of itemized deductions would have been limited to 28 cents on the dollar, rather than the 33 cents or 35 cents to which they would have otherwise been entitled. NAR aggressively and successfully fought off changes to the MID through grassroots, advertising and similar advocacy tools.

FHA and GSE Loan Limits – NAR successfully advocated for legislation to once again extend the temporary higher loan limits for FHA and the GSEs in both 2009 and 2010. Had the limits expired, NAR estimates that more than 612 counties in 40 states and the District of Columbia would be negatively impacted, with an average decline in loan limits of more than $50,000. The current limits (at the greater of $271,050 [for FHA] and $417,000 [for the GSEs] or 125% of local area median up to $729,750) are now in place through September 30, 2011.

Small Business Lending Fund – On September 27, 2010, the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 (H.R. 5297) was signed into law. Under this bill, which NAR supported, the U.S. Treasury is authorized to lend up to $30 billion to interested community banks to further expand lending to small businesses. As an incentive for community banks to participate and increase small business lending, participating banks’ interest rates will be adjusted relative to the amount of their small business lending activity. It is estimated that community banks could use the $30 billion lending fund to leverage up to $300 billion in new loans to small businesses. Additionally, NAR successfully worked to include provisions in the legislation that enhance Small Business Administration (SBA) programs and provide $12 billion in tax relief for commercial real estate practitioners and small businesses.

Flood Insurance – NAR secured a full one-year extension through September 2011 of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) authority, after supporting legislation, which twice broke congressional stalemates that led to multi-week shutdowns of the program. Without the program, thousands of property owners in tens of thousands of communities across the U.S. would not have been able to obtain the insurance necessary for them to obtain a mortgage in federal-designated floodplains.

Development of NAR Credit Policy – The Conventional Finance and Lending Committee proposed a NAR Credit Policy for consideration by the Board of Directors in November 2010 which was approved. The new policy calls for the lending industry to reassess and amend its credit policies to increase mortgage liquidity for qualified home buyers, including low and moderate-income families and first-time home buyers. The policy also includes specific recommendations.

Appraisal Reform – On July 21, 2010, the President signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act. The legislation includes the first major appraisal reforms in more than a generation. NAR worked with Congress on this legislation, which regulates appraisal management companies (AMCs), establishes new appraisal independence standards, and regulates automated valuation models (AVMs) and broker price opinions (BPOs). The legislation also sunsets the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). NAR is currently working with the Federal Reserve on the implementation of regulations related to appraisal independence, which must be implemented within 90 days of enactment of the legislation.

NAR message to Congress about MID


  • Repealing the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) is a form of tax increase.

  • Families with children would bear more than half of the total increase.
  • IRS data show that taxpayers in the 35 – 45 age group take the largest MID on average compared to any other age group of taxpayers

  • First time home buyers would be hurt the most if the MID is curtailed.
  • Current data from the IRS show that 65% of the taxpayers who have claimed the MID made less than $100,000.

  • The housing market has not emerged from the crisis that began in 2007.
The 1.1 million members of the National Association of REALTORS® strongly oppose proposals to reduce the mortgage interest  deduction (MID). Hard-working American families’ budgets are already stressed. Reducing or eliminating the mortgage interest deduction would pull even more money directly out of their wallets. If this crucial deduction is eliminated or reduced, home values will further erode. That’s something America simply can’t afford in this unstable housing market.


The Facts Speak for Themselves.

To learn more, logon to

FREE Download of NAR Buyer & Seller profile report.

RE: FREE Download of NEW Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Thank you for making the Right Tools Right Now initiative a complete success.  This program was introduced in 2009 to provide REALTORS® with free and at-cost products and resources during this challenging market.  As many of you know, this program will end on December 31, 2010.

This final Right Tools Right Now email provides you with a FREE download of the just-released 2010 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.  This best-selling research profile provides essential information on today’s home buyers and sellers you can use to better understand your customers and increase your business today.

We are also pleased to introduce our newest publication, Social Media for REALTORS®: Blogging, available AT-COST.

Use the links below to access these two new products today.

NEW! 2010 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers
Learn about today’s home buyers and sellers in this comprehensive research profile.

NEW! Social Media for REALTORS®: Blogging
Maximize blogs with this handy how-to guide that’s part of the Social Media for REALTORS® series.
Order your copy now AT-COST

These special product prices are exclusively available to REALTORS®. Easily access the hundreds of FREE and AT-COST downloadable products – just use your member login. If you’ve downloaded an e-product, new versions are automatically updated in your “My Account”.

If you don’t know your login, use this link or call NAR’s Information Central at 1-800-874-6500.

If you haven’t downloaded an e-product before, use this link to find out how, or call NAR’s Information Central at 1-800-874-6500.

Even after the ‘Right Tools, Right Now’ initiative ends, you will still have access to special member discounts, new products, and business-boosting tools at

Thank you,


Forward to a friend a Right Tools, Right Now message.

Meet the new HVCC, same as the old HVCC

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Unveil New Appraisal Independence Standards

On October 15, 2010, the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced appraisal independence requirements to replace the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. The new requirements offer no significant changes to the core principles of HVCC. An appraiser may not be selected or retained by mortgage brokers and real estate agents. More specifically, lenders mortgage production staff, any person compensated on a commission basis upon the successful completion of the mortgage, and any person whose immediate supervisor is not independent of mortgage production staff, is prohibited from ordering the appraisal. Lenders must still separate mortgage production functions from appraisal functions. The borrower is entitled to a copy of the appraisal report no less than three days prior to closing. The new standards include language permitting appraisal portability assuming the appraisal continues to meet the independence standards.

Fannie Mae Appraiser Independence Requirements >
Fannie Mae Announcement SEL 2010-14 >
Freddie Mac Appraiser Independence News Release >
Freddie Mac Bulletin 2010-23 >

CRE solicits your input on trasfer fees

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness Solicits Public Comment on Three Public Policy Issues Associated with the FHFA Proposed Private Transfer Fee Guidance

The Federal Home Finance Authority has proposed guidance which would terminate the use of Private Transfer Fees.  Private Transfer Fees are paid each time a property is sold and are often used for community benefit programs. Private transfer fees have also been used to provide a continual source of income for developers and investors.

The FHFA has received in excess of 2,500 comments. While the FHFA is reviewing these comments  the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness is asking the public and the regulated community to comment on the following public policy issues which emerge from CRE’s review of the public comments submitted to the FHFA:
1.   Should the FHFA issue a rule in lieu of guidance?
2.   Should the FHFA prepare an environmental impact statement on the transfer fee proposal?
3.     Should there be a “carve out” for the public use of transfer fees?Please post your comments at (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to locate the comments section.)

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness is a regulatory watchdog founded  by former members of the White House Office of Management and Budget

For additional information , contact
Jim Tozzi at the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness

Josh Van De Riet
Research Assistant
The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness
1601 Connecticut Avenue, NW   Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009(202) 265-2383

Eliminating Private Transfer Fee Mortgages

GSE Regulator Eyes Private Transfer Fees
NAR commended the Federal Housing Finance Agency for taking steps to restrict Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks from investing in mortgages with private transfer fees. A private transfer fee, often attached to a property by a developer, is a fee due to the developer each time the property is resold. The term of some covenants can extend to 99 years. NAR is part of a coalition that strongly opposes such fees. Twelve states enacted legislation in 2010 to ban them. FHA has also denied its home loan programs to transfer fees. Learn more

NAR’s Vince Malta Reports on Housing Summit

Last week I wrote about CAR’s Vince Malta representing NAR at the White House Housing Conference. I also passed along some of the negative commetary on housing that came out of that summit and some of the discussions going on at high levels of government to re-evaluate the ‘value of housing’. Here’s Vince’s own comments on what he saw last week.

The War on Housing, Posted by Vince

Posted: 25 Aug 2010 01:37 PM PDT

housegablesThere is a “war on housing” brewing in Washington.  Homeownership seems to be under attack.  As 2010 NAR First Vice President Moe Veissi pointed out in his recent blog, ill-informed views on homeownership are appearing more and more in the media.

Last week, industry leaders, executives and policy makers gathered in Washington, D.C., for a housing conference sponsored by the Treasury to discuss the future of the housing finance system and the fate of Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The conference featured panels moderated by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, as well as breakout sessions that focused on topics from the “Role of the Private Sector and the Government in a Reformed Housing Finance System” to “Managing the Process of Transition to a New Financial System”.

I was assigned to participate in the breakout session entitled, “Aligning Private Market Incentives in the Housing Finance Chain”, moderated by FHA Commissioner Dave Stevens.  In recent weeks, long-term fixed rate mortgages have come under increasing pressure from pundits who believe this product is partly the crux of the nation’s housing finance problem.

During the session, I had the opportunity to briefly share NAR’s views regarding the importance of maintaining the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, which is an extremely safe mortgage product.

While some at the conference, advocated the need to support a mortgage market for all types of housing, in all market conditions, other speakers questioned the level of government support for the housing industry.

What did they say?

They asserted that taxpayer money is better spent on other industries with the greater promise of job growth and productivity for our economy.

The debate we’re starting to see over the government’s role in housing touches on many issues:  over-housed citizens, the deficit, tax incentives (MID and capital gains) the GSE’s, and other public incentives.

Homeownership is not for everyone, surely.  But if you are prepared for its responsibilities, it’s an excellent way to invest your money and receive financial and social benefits in return.

At the conference, Secretary Geithner stated that: “Fixing our housing finance system is one of the most consequential and complicated economic policy problems we face as a country”.

REALTORS® know this to be absolutely true.  We recognized this early on.  In late 2008 we started formulating a reformation plan for the GSE’s.

While there is no clear consensus in Washington as to what needs to be done to fix Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, participants at the conference generally advocated a need for some level of government support for the housing finance sector for the foreseeable future.

So as the Administration focuses its attention on the future of housing finance and the GSE’s, NAR—together with your support—will continue to espouse the virtues of homeownership and of providing a mechanism to ensure that qualified buyers have access to the capital they need to become homeowners.  This is how we will respond to the “war on housing.”

While we face one of our greatest industry challenges, it does provide us with a tremendous opportunity to energize and engage homeowners and prospective homeowners in this housing debate.  Vince Malta, 2010 Vice President and Liaison to Government Affairs

Daddy. Why do they call it a short sale when it takes sooooo long?

Why do they call it a ‘short-sale’? You could actually have a baby in less time than it takes to work through the short sale process in many cases. And while lenders are promising to expedite the process and reduce the lead time, the fact remains that the problem is growing and as more and more short-sales are brought into the pipeline, the lead time threatens to increase rather than decrease.

Lenders are expected to try to negotiate more than 400,000 short sales this year – triple the amount they had to work with just two years ago. Do you really think that tripling their workload will result in decreased transaction time? I bet you bought that whole ‘hopey-changey’ thing too, didn’t you?

ServiceLink, the national lender platform for origination, loss mitigation and default servicing for Fidelity National Finance, recently reported that its improved loss mitigation business model has shown dramatic decreases in the amount of approval and closing timelines for short sales. ServiceLink now boasts that a streamlined short sale will take less than 74 days. A usual short sale can take over five months. (source – Housingwire)

Some recent stats as released by the Virgina Association of Realtors… (thanks to Lenn Harley)

The Quickest: GMAC with an averge of 6 months to approve.

The next Fastest: CitiMorrgage with an average of 7.5 months to approve.

The next-next Fastest: Wells Fargo with an average of 8 months to approve.

LAST PLACE (SLOWEST) goes to Countywide (Bank of America) with an averge of 13 months to approve.

NAR President Vicki Cox-Golder recently held a meeting with B of A exec’s wherein they committed to getting transaction time down from 117 days to 57 days. From the looks of it, 117 days would be a worthwhile target from the current average of 390 days.

Short sale indeed.

1099’s for everybody you spend more than $600 with. That’s the healthcare bill.

As if businesses aren’t already drowning in regulation, red tape and taxes, here’s another little extra you probably haven’t heard about yet courtesy of the Obama Healthcare Bill.drown

You’ve all heard about the additional 3% tax on homeowners that’s buried deep inside the bowels of this bill – yet that will impact less than 5% of homeowners, only under very precise circumstances and only those at the very top of the food chain.

Here’s one that will impact a far greater number of you – and not just Realtors® but businesses across the country . Just another little ‘thank you’ to small businesses from our friend in the White House.

Buried in Section 9006 of the healthcare bill is a provision requiring you to file a 1099 on any business, vendor or supplier that you pay more than $600 dollars a year to. This provision won’t become effective until January of 2012 and you can believe NAR, the Chamber of Commerce and a variety of other business groups are fighting to get it out of there – but for now it’s there and the administration apparently has every intent to keep it there.

What does it mean? Well, some of you are probably already doing it for some things – like if you have a lawn maintenance person or somebody re-habbing your REO’s – you probably already 1099 them unless the bank pays for it or reimburses you.

But now it’s down to $600. If you buy $600 worth of supplies from any single company, $600 worth of coffee & donuts for your office meetings, catered lunch for your broker/owner/manager meetings – anything you spend more than $600 dollars a year on with a single vendor for your business, you need to 1099 that business. Spend a week at a business meeting in Sacramento – 1099 the hotel. Take a group of clients out for a nice dinner? 1099 the restaurant. Pay a guy $50 a month to cut your grass at home? 1099 him.

Think it’s a pain in the butt for you? Try being the small business on the receiving end who now has a mountain of 1099’s to deal with at tax time. It adds another whole layer of cost and accountability to their business, meaning it costs them more to do business, meaning they either take a cut in profit (if they’re making any to begin with), or they raise the prices to off-set it. Guess which one it’s gonna be.

The theory was the provision would help small businesses obtain more affordable health insurance plans. Not exactly sure of the nexus there but that was the ostensible working theory.

In reality the government is worried about ‘the tax gap’. They’re concerned businesses (like you) may not be paying all the taxes they’re supposed to. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman cut to the chase when he recently stated “The information we receive is an important window into under-reporting. It can also help us better understand tax compliance and trends in different industry segments”. It cuts both ways – businesses that may have been underreporting income will now have a 1099 trail to the IRS. Businesses that have been over-reporting expenses (not any of you) will now have to document where that money was spent. Yeah, that has a lot to do with healthcare.

Well, whether you believe the government’s (Administration) reasoning or the government’s (IRS) reasoning, you and every other small business owner in this country is gonna be the one getting the shaft again come January 1, 2012. As one administration aide characterized it – ‘this provision is a ‘voluntary’ way of increasing tax revenue without increasing taxes.’ Right.

So you can get ready for more paperwork, higher costs and more business failures thanks to Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care Reconciliation Act of 2010.

UNLESS you support the groups fighting against this.

Did you really believe them when they told you they could do all that without raising your taxes? Sucker.

White House Housing Conference debates ‘value of homeownership’.

I suspect many of you have been following the blowback from the White House Conference on Housing held earlier this week. I haven’t had an opportunity to talk with former CAR President Vince Malta, who was NAR’s rep at the event, nor have I seen any quotes from him in the press. Most of the quotes seem to be from Mark Zandi and his comments about how ‘we can’t afford housing subsidies any longer’. Hmmmm, I don’t recall Zandi mentioning that the last time he addressed an NAR crowd. Could it be he modifies his comments and his beliefs depending on the audience? Pro-housing when you’re in front of Realtors but pro-tax when you’re invited to sit on an Obama panel? I guess that’s how you keep getting  invited back.

But as Dr. Alan Greenspan told us at the NAR conference a couple years back, you’ve got to pay attention to the ‘first rule of economists. For every economist there is an equal and opposite economist. Rule #2 – they’re both wrong’. Zandi’s just the one getting quoted today.

But the more serious underlying tone of the seminar is that for the first time in 70 years, housing is on the table – especially the heretofore sacrosanct mortgage interest deduction. Panelists questioned the ‘value of home ownership’ and floated the theory that the government ‘spent’ $230 Billion to promote home ownership last year, the biggest chunk – $80 Billion – on the mortgage interest deduction. And they’re just not sure what return that’s producing for the government.

Excuse me? They’re spending $80 Billion on the mortgage interest deduction? That’s a bald faced LIE! They don’t ‘spend’ a nickel on the MID. The fact is for them, it’s simply a missed opportunity to tax us on yet another area of our lives. And since when was the purpose of homeownership  to provide a revenue generating tool for the government?

Let’s take their argument one step further – is the $80 Billion they claim they’re spending on homeowners really going to make a dent in the national debt, which is approaching $10 Trillion dollars? Is it Mark? So it’s OK to continue to funds all the pork and earmarks, bridges to nowhere, the arts, auto bail-outs, bank bail-outs, welfare for illegals, a trillion dollar healthcare bill, Fannie & Freddie not to menton the lifetime benefits accorded those who serve in Congress. But that $80 Billion a year for MID is breaking us? Is that really the best you can come up with?

And remember, it’s not $80 Billion they’re spending – it’s $80 Billion of OUR OWN MONEY they’re letting us keep.

And why did they seem to focus on the $80 Billion in MID and ignore the remaining $150 Billion spent on housing stimulus last year including the first time homebuyer tax credit? Maybe it’s because the tax credit was backed by this administration so they didn’t want to bite the hand that invited them to the conference.

But probably it’s because of a theory floated by another administration sycophant claiming that studies show the MID primarily benefits the wealthy. People making less than $40,000/year only benefit $91 while those making $250,000 benefit $5,459. Look out people, here’s another salvo at those damn ‘wealthy’ people. We need to redistribute that wealth.  Somehow we need to level the playing field so that people who work hard and do well get dinged more, or maybe they need to subsidize bigger houses for the people making less so those people can get bigger tax write-offs. It’s a shame to waste $80 billion on homeowners when you so many more undeserving groups you could fritter it away on.

Regardless of his fallacious math, the bottom-line is he has just redefined ANYBODY who owns a home as wealthy because they are getting benefits from the federal government that non-homeowners aren’t. So if you’re one of the people only benefitting $91/year, don’t get too smug because according to these folks you’re wealthy too and you won’t escape the axe.

That’s just wrong. Never mind we’re not collecting welfare or food stamps or ADC  or all the other give-aways our government has devised. The paltry $80 Billion ‘spent’ on homeowners is simply not providing a big enough ‘return’ to the government, according to these flacks.

I’m sick of this. I’m sick of paying ever increasing taxes so the unmotivated and unproductive can maintain a lifestyle. I’m sick of this talk of re-distributing the wealth. I’m sick of the constant attacks by this administration on the hard-working, productive members of this country. I’m sick of attacks on real estate and private property rights and on people who have been fortunate or industrious enough to own a home or several homes or invest in real estate. Mostly I’m sick of sycophants who, when faced with a problem, point the finger at every aspect of our society except toward the one segment where the blame truly rests – our country has a huge freakin’ spending problem and we can no longer afford OUR GOVERNMENT.

Well, that’s just my opinion – I could be wrong.