California’s Vince Malta to Represent NAR at the White House’s Conference on the Future of Housing Finance

On Tuesday, August 17th, Vince Malta, NAR’s Vice President for Government Affairs, will represent NAR at the “Conference on the Future of Housing Finance” sponsored by the White House. The conference will feature panels moderated by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, as well as break-out sessions that focus 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 sysytem.

Mr. Malta will continue NAR’s effort to share recommendations regarding the future of the GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as crafted by the GSE Presidential Advisory Group (see link below), as well as emphasize the importance of using caution when deciding to make changes to the current housing finance system while the housing recovery is on-going.

Lastly, for those interested in watching the proceedings, the Conference’s “opening remarks” and panel discussions, host by Secretaries Geithner and Donovan, will be streamed live via the U.S. Department of Treasury website (www.treasury.gov).

NAR’s Recommendations for Restructuring the GSEs

Ron Phipps – Home perspective

Home Ownership..My personal perspective, Posted byRon

Posted: 13 Aug 2010 06:57 AM PDT

It is late on a Sunday night and I am getting ready to go to sleep.  My daughter, Caite, is still at work, so we are “leaving the light on” so that she can find her way into the house.

Our house is the only home she has ever really known.  My wife Susan and I built it before she was born.  It has been the kind of home that was always “open.”  Everyone is welcome.  It has been a place where our family has witnessed and been an active part of life’s challenges, of life’s successes, and of life’s celebrations.  We are about 300 feet from Greenwich Bay, which opens into Narragansett Bay and, ultimately, the Atlantic Ocean.  It is in a place where the water and the land meet and embrace.  It is a fitting place for our home.

It has been a permanent place for our family.  It has been the primary location of most family celebrations: holidays, birthdays, and (on occasions) tragedies.  It is unique, as it is designed to look old and blend into a neighborhood where most houses were built between 1870 and 1910.  It also has seven star bursts.  There are seven wood fans that represent the rising and setting sun.  Every morning and every evening – seven days a week, every month, year after year – no matter where we are, it is our home.

We have stayed a long time in our family home.  For Susan, it is partly because she is a first generation American.  This house represents the deep routes of a person transplanted to the soil of this great country.  For me, it is about counter balance to my childhood:  almost every two years we moved…usually quite far.

I was born in San Francisco in the Haight and my parents’ first house – mine too – was near the beach by Golden Gate Park.  A short time later, we were off on a new adventure.  Next stop Santa Clara, California;  Portland, Oregon;  Placentia, California;  Government Camp, Oregon; Vancouver, Washington;  Kansas City, Missouri;  East Greenwich Rhode Island and then Warwick, Rhode Island.  At 18, I left for college in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Ironically, I can remember each of the houses in which we lived with surprising clarity.  It is where my parents, brother and sisters engaged life.

What is also true is that my grandparents’ houses, in the Bay area, were the constant homes I knew as child.  Every summer we would return “home.”  My mother’s parents lived at 167 King Street in Redwood City, California.  It was a great home full of great music and great mentoring.  I met my first REALTOR® there.  He was my grandfather, John J. Brophy.  My father’s parents lived at 1735 Parrot Drive, San Mateo, California.  It, too, was a special place of great memories and great food.  These were the homes of life’s photographs and memories.

Life’s lesson was clear for me:  Home maybe where the heart is; but it is great to always have a place called “home.”  — Ron Phipps, 2010 NAR First Vice President

Realtors®, Register to Vote Here / Now / Easy

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In Minnesota the 2008 U.S. Senate race was decided by just over 200 votes!

In Washington State, the incumbent Governor won her first election by just 129 votes!

In Avery County, S.C., a proposed transfer tax initiative was defeated by just 35 votes!

While Realtors® are registered to vote in greater proportion than members of the general public (80% v 71%), that still leaves almost 203,000 Realtors® unregistered. You might argue whether your vote makes a statistical difference with the Electoral College, but at the state and especially the local level, Realtor® votes CAN & DO make a difference.

Every day politicians from our local city councilors to our state and federal legislators are making decisions that affect our business. Doesn’t it make sense to have a say in those issues.

The National Association of Realtors® has launched a voter registration drive for our members to help bring this difference home to legislators. If you are not registered, or have recently moved and your registration may be out-of-date, please click one of the boxes below and take a moment to make a difference…

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NAR VP Moe Viessi takes on housing critics

I have been reading a different philosophical bent on the housing market of late, and it just plain makes me mad.  No, it’s not about volume or pricing or foreclosures; it’s what some people have been saying about housing in America.

I’ve read that some of these pundits believe the worth of the home purchase isn’t what it once was, and may never be a valuable asset. I’ve read that, in an uncertain economy, these brainiacs think buying a house is too much of an anchor on an individual or families mobility. Not a long term valuable assets? Too much of an anchor? What in the heck are these folks smoking? Are they nuts?!

These “chicken littles” are the same “sky is falling” addicts that would have you believe that:

1)The millions of folks that came here to settle America had no interest in private property ownership,

2)A home or piece of land they could own was not only worthless but also not a primary reason for their migration here away from home and family,

3) The millions of new citizens that continue to come here from every part of the world work and slave so they can…what?… raise their kids in a palatial rental?

Give me a break! Owning a home of their own, maybe not for some, but for the vast majority has been a benchmark of success and stability in their lives and that of their children as well.

Let me tell you a story about the real value of homeownership. My dad met my mom and they always had the dream of owning their own home. He bought my mom the home of her dreams as a gift of his love with the belief that it was better to pay off something that he owned with his wife and raise his kids there than to rent.

That home was purchased in the 1960s for $16,000, with a few hundred dollars down, an FHA-backed loan, and an interest rate of 5 percent. The real value today is about $275,000. You do the math on an investment of a few hundred dollars and tell me if housing isn’t worth the risk.

In spite of everything that housing has gone through the past couple of years – and I’ll admit it’s been a tough time – housing still remains the best way to build long-term wealth. Nothing else compares. Doesn’t even come close.

Yep, we take a risk when we buy home. But I’ll bet you a dollar to a donut that the risk remains one of the best ones you’ll ever take in your life. There is good risk and bad risk. Bad risk is unintelligent investment, banking on unrealistic expectations bolstered by uncertain outcomes. Good risk is knowing as much about the investment as possible, consulting with folks who commit to your intelligent purchase.  When you are working with an experienced REALTOR® who can identify the pitfalls and the multiple future benefits, housing becomes as good a risk you can take.

There are so many other values housing provides. It’s not just the peace of mind offered by owning something that is yours, but also can provide the foundation on which your life will be built. When my Dad bought my Mom that house, it created their home, and it built their life, mine and my sister’s too.  – Moe Veissi, 2010 NAR First Vice President

NAR Comments on National Energy Ratings Program.

### NAR Comments on Proposed Voluntary Energy Performance Label for Homes

NAR submitted comments on a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposal to create a voluntary energy performance label for homes.  The DOE issued a request for information on a proposed National Energy Rating Program for Homes.  The stated purpose of the request for information was “…..to develop a voluntary energy rating program for homes…..that will grow jobs, save homeowners money on their energy bills, help avoid emssions of greenhouse gases and improve energy security.”

In the comments, NAR lauded the DOE for emphasizing the voluntary nature of the proposal.  However, NAR also raised concerns regarding the difficulty of developing national guidelines that would accurately measure energy use and performance in something has complicated and varied as a house, the complications this kind of nformation could cause in the real estate transaction and the negative impacts that comparing energy use of different homes could have on fragile real estate markets.  According to NAR’s comments: “Labeling every structure in America will not, in and of itself, improve the energy efficiency of homes or buildings…..Energy labels stigmatize older properties and make it harder for these individuals to build equity. Labels also reduce sales prices when sellers are forced into negotiated price reductions in order to compete in today’s very competitive buyer’s market.”
NAR’s comments are attached.  DOE will provide additional opportunities for input, feedback and comment as they develop their voluntary National Energy Rating Program for Homes, and NAR will ensure that ensure that the Realtor perspective is considered during that process.

(See attached file: 07.08.10 Natl Energy Rating Program RFI Comment Letter.pdf)

New Scam aimed directly at Realtors. Don’t get burned.

This is a variation of the Craigslist scam and the Nigerian bank fraud. I sincerely hope no real estate professional has fallen for this grift ut since NAR is publicizing it – it’s probably bit a few folks.

NAR Legal Affairs has learned of a new scheme designed to trick unwary real estate professionals

NAR Legal Affairs has learned of a new scheme designed to trick unwary real estate professionals into forwarding money to the scheme operators. The scheme works in the following manner:

  • Salesperson receives an inquiry via email from an individual who identifies himself (no known female aliases yet) as a wealthy individual seeking a residential property. The individual lives outside the market area, and usually outside of the country. The individual operates under a variety of aliases, and also varies his housing requirements. Sometimes he is married with children, sometimes he is single.
  • The emails are written in a choppy fashion with incorrect grammar usage, suggesting English is not the writer’s first language. The emails also rarely contain any information relevant to the market in which he is seeking a home and are written in a generic style.
  • The individual claims to hold an important position at an existing business, although no one with the individual’s name actually is listed as working for the business.

If the real estate professional responds to the inquiry and sends the individual listing information, the following actions take place:

  • The alleged buyer selects the most expensive property from the listings that he receives and instructs the real estate professional to submit an offer for the property, stating that he will visit the property in the near future.
  • He represents that the transaction will be an all cash transaction, and no title company should be involved.
  • He requests the information that he needs to write on the deposit check, and states that the check will be sent either to the real estate brokerage or to an attorney.
  • He will also send a forged bank (or brokerage) statement, showing significant assets, in addition to a copy of a forged ID.

If the Salesperson provides this information, the real estate professional (or attorney) will receive a check larger than the deposit amount. The reason for the higher amount will be attributed to something like needing funds for furnishing the new home. If the check is cashed, the alleged buyer will immediately withdraw the overage amount. The real estate professional’s bank will present the initial check for payment, and will then be told it is forged. Therefore, the real estate professional will lose the overage amount taken by the individual, as the trail of money is usually untraceable once it is withdrawn from the brokerage’s escrow account.

If you receive this email, you should ignore it and forward it to your local FBI office- SCAM@ic.fbi.gov

Tax Credit Extended!

After a close brush with the deadline, Congress has passed an extension of the Homebuyer Tax Credit closing deadline, the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act (H.R. 5623). The extension applies only to transactions that have ratified contracts in place as of April 30, 2010 that have not yet closed.  The legislation is designed to create a seamless extension the new closing deadline for eligible transactions is now September 30, 2010.  There is will be no gap between June 30 and the date the President signs the bill into law.

NAR worked closely with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to enact this important legislation. Extending the Tax Credit Closing deadline will help provide additional stability to real estate markets across the nation.

For additional information on the extension visit www.realtor.org/government_affairs

Additionally, the United States Senate has passed the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 5569) an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program until September 30, 2010.  This will allow transactions to move forward.  The bill is retroactive and covers the lapse period from June 1, 2010 to the date of enactment of the extension.

For more information on the flood insurance program visit www.realtor.org/government_affairs

Homebuyer Tax Credit Update

The United States House of Representatives has just passed  HR 5623, the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act of 2010, by a vote of 409-5.  This bill extends the deadline for closing tax credit eligible transactions from June 30 to September, 30, 2010.   The bill moves to the Senate where the outcome is much less certain.  NAR will continue to update you as the events move forward.

Tax Credit Extension Still Awaiting Approval. Don’t bet your buyer’s farm on it.

NAR is working very closely with key Members of Congress and the Senate, and Senior Congressional Staff on two issues of critical importance to the membership: an extension of the June 30, 2010 deadline for closing contracts eligible for the Homeowner Tax Credit, and  a reinstatement of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Here are the latest details on the Tax Credit Closing Deadline:

Our best advice to members with questions and concerns is to proceed as if the June 30, 2010 date is binding.

NAR is pursuing all possible options with senior congressional staff to determine what other legislation may be available for passing a June 30 extension.  Each of the possible options face difficult obstacles, but NAR’s efforts to clear the way are on going.

The Senate will NOT have any votes today (Friday, June 25) this will push the Tax Credit Extension deadline to the week of June 28, 2010.

Should Congress extend the date, information will be posted on www.realtor.org/government_affairs as soon as it happens.

The final outcome will be posted on www.realtor.org/government_affairs on July 1, 2010.

Close date extended for homebuyer tax credit.

The Senate has amended a bill to give homebuyers who were under contract on a home purchase by April 30 an additional three months to close the deal and claim the federal homebuyer tax credit.

Extending the deadline for closing from June 30 to Sept. 30 would allow lenders more time to clear a backlog of 180,000 homebuyers nationwide, said amendment sponsor Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The amendment to HR 4213, the “American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010” — which primarily extends unemployment insurance benefits — was approved in a 60-37 vote Wednesday. The vote was mostly along party lines, with only four Republicans in favor and one Democrat opposed.

The National Association of Realtors supports the amendment, saying Realtors have reported that as many as one-third of qualified applicants have been told by lenders that their loans will not close before June 30 because of the sheer volume of loan applications in the pipeline.

The amendment does not extend the deadline for homebuyers to qualify for the tax credit, NAR said in urging lawmakers to approve it, but simply extends the deadline for closing transactions already in contract.

“Since these applications were already in the pipeline and figured into the program’s cost, the extension of the closing deadline should not incur any further government costs,” NAR President Vicki Cox Golder said in a statement.

National Flood Insurance Program Expires – WTH?

WHAT IN THE HECK WERE THEY THINKING???, Posted by Moe

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 01:02 PM PDT

Ever have a bad dream that just doesn’t stop? It just keeps repeating itself. You don’t want to close your eyes cuz you know what’s coming!!!  For REALTORS®, that recurring bad dream is Congress letting the National Flood Insurance Program expire. What the heck were they thinking?

REALTORS® have been urging Congress to pass a comprehensive National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reform bill all year long. We conducted a Call for Action in April. I had the privilege to testify at Congressional hearings about the importance of the program to the real estate market and the general economy. Recently, we urged action during our midyear hill visits with this issue being one of our top talking points. Yet once again, Congress left town on the holiday weekend without reauthorizing the NFIP and the Section 502 Rural Housing Program. As a result, thousands of transactions have come to a stop, again. What the heck were they thinking?

How do we rid ourselves of this bad dream?

Let me give it a shot – we let Congress know, again, and again, and again if necessary….. Anything that holds up the sale of a home, for whatever the reason, hurts our communities, stifles our economic healing, and halts real estate’s fragile recovery. Regardless of your location, rebuilding our markets in every corner of America is in every REALTORS®’ interest, but more importantly every taxpayers’ interest, every homeowners’ interest, every renters’ interest, every property investors’ interest, everyones’ interest. What the heck were they thinking?

You may ask yourself – there are no floodplains in my market, so why should I care? That’s a fair question. Let me give that a shot too – Lenders from every corner of our nation hold up capital when the market is uncertain. When the NFIP isn’t in place it gives lenders a reason to pause.  It makes them more concerned about this short term band aid approach that it destabilizes the financial mortgage markets even more. See, every mortgage has some phrase or clause that requires the borrower to keep the asset (home) insured. If there is no insurance, the lender has the right to foreclose on existing loans, or not make the loan at all, for new ones. Now, you and I know today, or anytime for that matter, the lender doesn’t want your property back. With this uncertainty that you will be unable to insure your home, the lenders are even more reluctant to lend. This hurts home sales everywhere. It hurts all of us! What the heck were they thinking?

To make matters worse, Congress has also abandoned the Section 502 Rural Housing Program.  The housing program provides zero-down payment mortgages to eligible families in rural area of every state. Many of these families signed contracts before April 30 and plan to utilize the homebuyer tax credit. If this program is not restored soon, they will lose their opportunity for home ownership. What the heck were they thinking!

I’m a lot ticked, can you tell? Yesterday, NAR sent you a Call for Action urging Congress to extend the NFIP and Rural Housing Program immediately. Please, now is the time for the REALTOR® Party to speak with one voice, to urge Congress to renew both NFIP and the Rural Housing 502 program and do it now!.Give our lobby in DC the strength of numbers they need. What the heck were they thinking?

Tell everyone you know, post this, tweet it, Facebook it, or write your own version! Get folks mobilized, you can do it! Go to REALTORACTIONCENTER.com “Call for Action: Congress Abandons Critical Housing Programs – Again” spend a few seconds and do a couple clicks and let Congress know how important this is for our citizens!

Direct your clients to these sources for more information: FEMA, FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the VA. Remember REALTORS® are the Heart of the Market! — Moe Veissi, 2010 NAR First Vice President.

Dane Wunderlich Represents SRC YPN in Washington DC


YPN Goes to Washington

May 26, 2010 by Erica Christoffer · 1 Comment
Filed under: YPN Events, YPN News

About 200 young real estate professionals attended the REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo networking event at The Gibson on May 13 in Washington, D.C. The event, “Speaking Easy with YPN,” was sponsored by the REALTORS® Political Action Committee and the REALTOR® Party.

YPNers had the opportunity to meet with NAR leadership and mingle with other young professionals from throughout the country. Several YPN members also took part in committee meetings and events during the week.

Midyear was particularly significant for YPN this year as its Advisory Board received official Subcommittee status (under the Communications Committee) by NAR’s Board of Directors.

For more information on how to get involved with YPN, or how to start a chapter in your area, visit www.realtor.org/ypn.

Dane Wunderlich (3rd from right) enjoys YPN networking at NAR in Washington DC

Treasury answers your HAFA questions

Treasury Answers Three HAFA Questions

On May 21, 2010, Fannie Mae, on behalf of the Treasury Department, answered three HAFA questions submitted by NAR on behalf of its members. HAFA is the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program that provides uniform procedures, forms, and deadlines for short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure. The purpose of HAFA is to help homeowners avoid foreclosure even if they are unable to retain the home with a loan modification under the HAMP program. In brief, under the HAFA program:

(1) buyer agents are not permitted to rebate a portion of their commission to the buyer,

(2) sellers who are real estate agents must list their home for sale with another broker, not their own broker, and

(3) the incentive allowed for subordinate lien holders (6% of any one subordinate lien, up to a total of $6,000 for all subordinate liens) is a hard cap and may not be supplemented from any source.

HAFA Q&As
NAR’s Short Sale Web Page

What Memorial Day is all About.

Honoring Those Who Serve Our Nation, Posted by Moe

Posted: 26 May 2010 06:34 AM PDT

This upcoming Memorial Day weekend our nation again commemorates those men and women who serve or have served our nation during combat. I was privileged to start my salute early on.

Last Thursday, I had the rare opportunity to testify on behalf of our 1.1 million members in support of the Veterans Home Loan Guarantee Program.

Like you, I am a strong believer in the value of homeownership, but let me just say this particular program has special meaning for me. As the father of a soldier currently serving in Iraq, I am so very proud that the VA is there to make good on the promises our nation made to our enlisted women and men when they joined the military through this entitlement.

The VA Home Loan Guarantee Program, created under the GI bill, encourages private lenders to offer very favorable home loan terms to qualified veterans.

Today, the VA has guaranteed nearly 19 million loans to American veterans, with a total loan volume of just over one trillion dollars. Because of programs such as the VA Home Loan Guarantee Program, the homeownership rate for veterans is significantly higher than the national average – as high as 80 percent.

I had the good fortune to meet with Chairwoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) as well as the top Republican on the subcommittee Congressman John Boozman (R-Ark.). They both thanked me for the work you do! The work all REALTORS® do on behalf of veterans.

And I thanked them for their help to veterans who may have been victim to the subprime loan crisis. Listen to this, the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 made changes to VA’s home loan refinancing program. Because of this Act, many veterans have been able to refinance toxic loans into safe, affordable VA loans if their non-VA loan is in distress.

I also spoke about NAR’s toolkit that promotes the VA Home Loan Guarantee Program. One if not the only informational piece of this very important topic. Last fall, the National Association of REALTORS partnered with the Veterans Affairs Department to produce “Unlocking the Future”, a VA Toolkit for REALTORS and homeowners. This comprehensive informational DVD and brochure complete with videos and Frequently Asked Questions, provides REALTORS® with all the information they need to successfully guide a veteran through the home loan process.  Yea, it’s a great informational piece for the vet as well. If you don’t have this valuable tool, please go online to realtor.org.

I was heartened after my testimony to talk with a representative of the American Legion, and other veteran organizations. After hearing about our toolkit, the Legion said they want to promote our VA Toolkit by writing an article in their publications with more than 2.5 million circulation. It is times like these when you plainly see how REALTORS® make a positive difference in our communities, in people’s lives, and especially for those who serve our country in combat.

For me, I can’t think of a better way to kick-off the Memorial Day weekend than to take pride in REALTORS® support of a program that is proven to be a huge benefit to those who have so bravely served our country.

Oh by the way! When there is such a hue and cry about the concerns in government programs, this one, supported by so many REALTORS® nationwide, has proven beyond a doubt that it works and works well. The foreclosure rate in VA loans is a strikingly low 2.46 percent compared to subprime 15.5 percent and even prime loans that are a full ¾ of a percent higher than VA loan foreclosure rate.  REALTORS® ARE TRULY THE “HEART OF THE MARKET”

PS  Remember, men and women in the military have an additional year to take advantage of the first time home buyers credit!!– Moe Veissi, 2010 NAR First Vice President

At the NAR – Economic Update w/ Dr’s Yun & Zandi

This morning we heard from Dr Lawrence Yun (NAR Chief Economist) and Dr. Mark Zandi (Moody’s Economy.com) with their financial outlook for the rest of 2010 and beyond. I try never to miss this program as I always find the info interesting – if not always the most accurate.

Now I know there are some of you who are not enamored of Dr. Yun’s talks and consider him to be an NAR stooge – but the fact is he has recently been named by USA Today as one of the nations top 10 economic advisors and Dr. Zandi is one spot higher in that ranking than Yun – so say what you will, these guys have some credentials. I personally am glad to hear an econmist who understands real estate giving a Realtor perspective. Too many of them talk about housing but strictly from a philosophical point of view – they’re not surrounded by Realtors every day like Yun is.

An overview;

dr lawrence yunYun talked quite a bit about the first time homebuyer program and the success that it was. Ultimately 3.4 million buyers will benefit from that credit and just over 1 million of those would not have purchased at this time without the incentive. Given the multiplier effect of real estate purchases this program more than paid for itself in terms of economic benefit to the nation. It also had a significant impact on reducing inventory which in turn helped stabilize prices. Without that inventory drop prices may well have dropped another 8% before finding a bottom and that 8% would have translated to another $1 trillion drop in equity wealth for homeowners. Price stability also translates to fewer foreclosures going forward as the 3rd wave of foreclosures was largely driven by unemployment and negative equity. 

Dr. Yun does not believe there will be a double dip in housing prices but that distressed properties will continue to be with us for at least the next two years before we start getting anywhere close to a normal market. Several factors could impact that timing – including such international pressures as a default by Greece and other events but he doesn’t believe that will be allowed to happen. 

Yun also called out the next crisis, one that I have been talking about for awhile now.  That is a housing shortage which could lead to a quicker price recovery, if not another mini-spike. This is driven by the fact that demand is now keeping pace with supply in many markets yet new home builders are not working yet – which could lead to a shortage within two years and force upward price pressure in some areas – specifically ours herein Southern California. Florida is still toast, Arizona & Nevada are still hurting but many areas are climbing back out with some, like the San Diego market, showing double digit price appreciation. 

dr Mark ZandiDr. Zandi titled his address “The Housing Crisis is Over (Almost). He believes we will continue to see minor price slippage in some areas into 2012 until the job market picks up. While as many as 250,000 new jobs have been crated in the past 2 months, we have lost nearly 9 million. He believes we will average 150,000 – 250,000 new jobs per month this year and as many as 300,000 a month by next year. By next year at this time we should see job growth in every sector of the economy except state and local government. But even under is rosiest lens, he doesn’t see us approaching full employment (5.5%) until well into 2014. 

While some areas, like SoCal, have housing inventories of 2 months or less, much of the country is still struggling with 2 years of homes – although he agrees with Yun that that inventory will be disposed of and if an adequate supply of new homes doesn’t begin to appear soon it could precipitate another shortage. He also outlined the four stages of the housing crisis starting with flippers giving homes back to builders in 2006 – that was just a preview of things to come. Stage 2 was the infamous sub-prime melt-down that consumed us in 2007 and the freeze on jumbo loans which is still hurting the recovery of the upper end of the market. Stage 3 occurred in 2008-2009 driven by rising unemployment and falling home equity. We are currently tailing off that state and driving into Stage 4 which is marked by strategic defaults. There are 50 million home mortgages in this country of which nearly 1/3 or 15 million are under-water right now with negative equity. Of those, 4.5 million are either in foreclosure or are 90 days or more late on payments. That translates to more pain to come but it will be somewhat mitigated by an improving employment picture, continued low interest rates (no re-sets) and stabilizing or appreciating equity. 

Overall not a bad prognosis from these two. Not entirely rosy but I’ve certainly heard worse. 

Here’s the slides to Dr. Yun’s presentation:

Cap & Trade Bill – License for your home? Relax.

The Elusive Truth: Cap and Trade Legislation

Posted: 05 May 2010 06:41 AM PDT

Just received a forwarded e-mail from my mom with the subject line:  “CAP & TRADE BILL” = License for your home!

I was afraid to open it knowing how much misinformation is out there about this legislation.

As a REALTOR® for almost 40 years, my mom is one of those sharp, informed citizens.  Her comments that prefaced the e-mail capture that challenge:  “What do you think about this?   Is it accurate?  What do we do if so?  Will be in the office tomorrow a.m.to talk about it.   Love, mom”

One of the advantages of being in REALTOR® leadership is you have access to accurate information.  So, I can respond to my mom’s concern with real, accurate information.  Rather than respond to the exaggerations and misinformation in the e-mail, let’s just explain what the legislation does and does not do:

We, the National Association of REALTORS® in collaboration between volunteer leaders and professional staff, have been most effective is crafting changes supportive to homeownership.  The approved house bill has elements that we need:

• Does not create a federal energy audit requirement for real property;

• Exempts existing homes and building from any federal guidelines for new construction energy  efficiency information labels.

• Prohibits the implementation of any labeling during a sales transaction.

• Leaves the decision to states as to whether to require energy audits, disclosures, etc.

• Provides property owners with significant financial incentives, matching grants and tools to make property improvements and reduce their energy bills;

• Prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating residential and commercial buildings under the Clean Air Act;

• Eliminated an early proposal to allow citizens to sue over minor climate risks under the Clean Air Act; and

• Establishes green building incentives for HUD housing, including a loan program for renewable energy, block grants and credit for upgrades in mortgage underwriting.

Obviously, the process is not complete.  The US House of Representatives passed a climate bill called the American Clean Energy and Security Act.   The Senate version of the bill has not yet been passed.  Then, more than likely, a bill that would reconcile the differences between the House and Senate version would still need to be approved by both houses before the President could sign it into law.

Because there is a long way to go before this bill becomes law, we need to remain vigilant in our efforts to make certain that these positive elements for homeownership remain in the final bill.

There is a larger lesson for us as advocates for property rights and home ownership.  First, we need to be attentive and informed.  We need to be aggressive and effective. But, both of those require that we have access to the truth.  Great government policy should be based on real information, not innuendo and misrepresentation.  As the National Association of REALTORS®, we are committed to getting to the truth.

And, by the way, Mom thanks for forwarding the email.  I am glad that it is inaccurate, because it allowed me the opportunity to clear some of the misperceptions.  It is important to be informed before we respond.  (I think that is what you and Dad had taught me, my brother, and my sisters for years…It is a great lesson). – Ron Phipps, 2010 NAR President-Elect

Operation Tip-off: Updates you on the latest email quackery

OPERATION TIP-OFF

E-MAIL CHAINS DISTORTING THE TRUTH ON TWO KEY ISSUES

Energy license/retrofits and health care ‘transfer tax’ claims are false! false! false!

Washington, D.C. (April 29, 2010) Two e-mail chains have circulated among members and are generating a lot of confusion in the Realtor® ranks.  One claims that pending legislation in the Senate would require an energy license or retrofit for home sales, the other that the recently passed health care bill contains a 4.0 percent “transfer tax” on homes sales. Both are wrong.
Here’s the real skinny on both.  And PLEASE pass on to your members as quickly as possible:
“Homeowners—Listen Up” e-mail:
This e-mail is inaccurate. There is no requirement in H.R. 2454, The American Clean Energy & Security Act, that home sellers obtain either a license or energy audit or make energy retrofits before they can sell their home. The legislation, earlier passed by the House, is pending in the Senate.
Here are the two REAL provisions in the bill:

  • Section 202 (Building Retrofit Program) would offer matching grants for home improvements.  State government would administer the program, which is voluntary and available to all property owners.
  • Section 204 (Building Energy Performance Labeling Program) would apply to new construction only and prohibit time-of-sale labeling.  The original energy audit and MLS listing provisions were deleted as the result of NAR insistence; existing real estate was excluded from the bill’s requirements.

NAR will work to ensure that these provisions are retained in the Senate version. We were also instrumental in eliminating time-of-sale energy efficiency requirements from the bill.  Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are pursuing bipartisan support for an alternative to the House bill, and NAR will monitor that progress to ensure residential and commercial real estate are not adversely impacted.
Click here for a packet of facts and FAQs NAR pulled together after the House bill was passed last summer.
For more information on the energy bill, contact: Austin Perez, 202-383-1046, aperez@realtors.org

“National Real Estate Transfer Tax” e-mail:
An opinion piece in the Spokane, Wash., Spokesman-Review last month reported inaccurately that the health care bill contained a provision for a 4.0 percent “sales tax” or “transfer tax” on the sale of a home.  This e-mail, too, was circulated far and wide, and is inaccurate. We responded to questions from the media and members and continue to do so. This week we got a boost from an unexpected third-party, the Portland (Ore.) Oregonian. The Oregonian did some old-fashioned fact-checking, and reached correct conclusions published Tuesday, April 27.
Read the analysis by FACTCHECK.ORG, SUMMARY: THE CLAIM IS FALSE
Let us sum up: The health bill included a provision that imposes a new 3.8 percent Medicare tax for some high-income households that have “net investment income.”  Any revenue collected by the tax is dedicated to the Medicare hospital insurance program.
This new tax applies only to households with Adjusted Gross Income of more than $200,000 for individuals or more than $250,000 for married couples.  Since capital gains are included in the definition of net investment income, an additional tax obligation might result from the sale of real property.
But there are two major factors in figuring out the tax, which is complex.  Keeping in mind that the new 3.8 percent Medicare tax is assessed only when the $200K/$250K AGI limits are exceeded, the amount of net investment income subject to tax is the LESSER of 1) total net investment income OR 2) the excess of AGI over the $200K/$250K AGI limits.
However, even when the AGI limits are met, the new tax would not be applied to capital gains that result from the sale of a home, since the existing home sale capital gains exclusion rule still applies – $250,000 (individual)/$500,000 (couple).  So if the gain from the sale of the primary residence is below that amount, then NO Medicare tax will have to be paid on the gain.  The new Medicare tax would apply only to a home sale gain realized in excess of the $250K/$500K that pushes the filer’s AGI over the $200K/$250K income limits.
Some other quick points:
There is no such exclusion for the sale of a second home.
The new Medicare tax will take effect January 1, 2013.
The legislation makes no changes to the mortgage interest deduction.
NAR has posted a detailed Q&A on this issue and on the new health care bill.  The Q&A will be updated as other provisions are developed.
For more information on the tax provisions in the health care legislation, contact: Linda Goold, 202-383-1083, lgoold@realtors.org .
Operation TIP-OFF is a service to Realtor® boards and associations from NAR Public Affairs.  It is a cooperative exchange of intelligence and information on news media coverage of issues critical to Realtors®.  Operation TIP-OFF will provide Realtor® leaders advance information on potential news. Board and associations are urged to share suggestions, tips and information about issues with their members in their markets or states. This is for member use only and should not be distributed externally.

HR 1728 – Another Housing Jab From the Left

You may have heard about H.R. 1728, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act. If you read my posts like you should, you would have heard about it here about a year ago when it was introduced in the House because it has some bad real estate stuff in it – I’m just not sure how bad. You can tell me if it’s going to ding you. The proposed legislation focuses upon the predatory lending practices of yesteryear and the resulting subprime debacle, imposing stringent requirements on mortgage brokers, servicers, appraisers, etc.  Unfortunately, owner financing gets caught up in the dragnet, and the impact could be devastating.

What it does, in part, is prohibit anyone from selling a house with seller financing more than once every 3 years unless they have a mortgage originators license. The authors claim it will not impact ‘Mom & Pop’ sellers but it would require real estate investors to obtain a license if they want to carry-back loans on more than 1 home every 3 years. Since many current lenders can’t even qualify under the terms of the new S.A.F.E. Act, it’s a fair assumption that most investors would be locked out as well, resulting in a significant drop-off in their business.

It’s estimated that nationwide as much as 19% of the housing stock has been picked up by investors the past 18 months. I know in my market it’s closer to 50%. I honestly don’t know how many offer seller-carried financing but according to several investor websites it’s quite a few. This will undoubtedly have a further dampening effect on home sales as yet another source of funding is dried up by the administration, which is hell bent on controlling, regulating and/or taxing virtually every aspect of our lives.

Taking it a step further, HUD has proposed to eliminate ALL seller financing for a home unless the seller lives in the property thereby eliminating all investor carry-back financing from the table.

frankieNAR’s response to this is that they tried to fight it and essentially got steamrolled. The juggernaut that is this administration essentially rolled over them and told them if they didn’t go away they would even take the 1 every 3 years options away.

Interesting that all 12 of the bills sponsors are Democrats including Barney Frank,  Paul Kanjorski and one of our local lunatics of the left, Joe Baca. (Baca has just stated he will no longer fly through Arizona on his way to DC in protest. Oooooh. That’ll leave a mark.).

I encourage you to read the text of the bill here:  HR 1728, Mortgage Reform & Anti-predatory lending Act

Then read what the National Real Estate Investing Association has to say here: Law Could Kill Your Business

Here’s another consumer website: HR 1728 – What is says and why it will hurt consumers and small business.

I sincerely hope some of you are getting as bothered as I am about this continued infringement on our business and on the private property rights of individuals. These knee-jerk reaction bills by know-nothing legislators are doing way more harm than good to our industry and to the recovery of this country.

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

4% Sales Tax on Homes? Another myth busted.

No 4.0% “Sales Tax” on Home Sales In Recently Enacted Health Reform Bill

Contrary to reports and newspaper articles circulating widely on the Internet, there is not a 4.0% “sales tax” or “transfer tax” on the sale of a home included in the recently signed health care reform bill. The analysis underlying these reports is incorrect and fails to take into account the interplay of the bill’s provisions with already existing real estate tax laws that remain unchanged.

What was included in the health bill is a provision that imposes a new 3.8% Medicare tax for some high income households that have “net investment income.” Any revenue collected by the tax is dedicated to the Medicare hospital insurance program. This new tax will only apply to households with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of more than $200,000 for individuals or more than $250,000 for married couples. Since capital gains are included in the definition of net investment income, an additional tax obligation might result from the sale of real property.

In the case of the sale of a principal residence, the existing $250,000/$500,000 exclusion from capital gains on the sale of a principal residence remains unchanged. Consequently, even when the AGI limits are met, the new tax would not be applied to all capital gains that result from the sale of a home. Rather, it would only apply to any home sale gain realized in excess of the $250K/$500K existing primary home exclusion that pushes the filer’s AGI over the $200K/$250K adjusted gross income limit.

The new Medicare tax will not take effect until January 1, 2013.

For more information on the new Medicare tax, please consult NAR’s Health Reform Q&A on this and other provisions of the new health reform law located at:

www.realtor.org/healthreform

Stuart Wolff of Homestore sentenced.

There was a time – not that long ago, when Stuart Wolff had God-like status with NAR. His mythical powers of creation and administration (Realtor.com, Homestore, etc) were the stuff of legend. Sadly today Stuart started his perp walk and is slated to become just another number in the facility.

EX-CEO OF HOMESTORE.COM SENTENCED TO 54 MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR OVERSEEING FRAUDULENT ‘ROUND-TRIP’ SCHEME THAT ILLEGALLY INFLATED COMPANY’S REVENUE

LOS ANGELES – The former chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Homestore.com was sentenced this afternoon to 4½ years in federal prison for presiding over a scheme to commit securities fraud by artificially inflating the publicly traded company’s advertising revenue to appear to be more profitable to Wall Street analysts.

Stuart Wolff, 46, of Westlake Village, was sentenced by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess, who ordered Wolff to begin serving his sentence by June 21.

“The conduct caused widespread injury to untold numbers of people in the stock market,” Judge Feess said, referring to the Homestore scheme, which he called a “calculated deception of the public.”

Wolff pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud through fraudulent, “round-trip” transactions that were designed to artificially inflate Homestore’s revenue in 2001. In the round-trip deals, Homestore paid millions of dollars to vendors for products and services that Homestore did not need or never used. The sole reason for paying the vendors was to start a circular flow of funds that would improperly return to Homestore as revenue. When he pleaded guilty, Wolff admitted that he entered into an agreement with other senior Homestore executives to record advertising revenue from those deals in order to make false statements to investors and federal regulators about Homestore’s true financial condition. Homestore improperly recorded more than $60 million in phony revenue from fraudulent transactions during the first three quarters of 2001. As a result of the financial scandal that erupted when the round-trip scheme was revealed, Homestore’s stock price dropped sharply, and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity disappeared. The company was forced to eliminate more than 1,000 jobs to cut costs and stay out of bankruptcy. While the company still operates under the name Move, Inc., its stock still trades at a price far below what it once did in 2001.

“Wolff was a hands-on, brilliant executive who participated in all major

(and many minor) corporate decisions for Homestore,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing brief that noted Wolff participated in the scheme by approving huge cash transfers for the deals, assisting in the collection of fraudulent revenue from business partners, and publicizing Homestore’s fabricated financial results to

investors. “Along the way, Wolff profited personally by selling millions of dollars of stock at inflated prices when he knew Homestore was deceiving the market about its financial results,” according to the sentencing memo, which argued Wolff realized profits of more than $8.6 million when he sold his stock in 2001.

In 2006, Wolff was convicted at trial of more than a dozen criminal charges and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. However, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the conviction in January 2008, finding that the trial judge should have been recused from the trial. The case was returned to the District Court and was reassigned to Judge Feess.

Wolff is the twelfth individual convicted of federal charges and sentenced in relation to the Homestore scheme. The other 11 defendants convicted in this case previously received sentences ranging from probation to 27 months in custody.

The investigation into the securities fraud violations by individuals at Homestore.com was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Move, Inc. fully cooperated in the investigation.

CONTACT:        Assistant United States Attorney Michael R. Wilner