Three Wins in Three Weeks, Posted by Vince

NAR has worked exceptionally hard this fall to ensure that the laws and policies in Washington support our members and their businesses.  In the three weeks that Congress was in session between mid-September and October 1st, REALTORS® succeeded on three major pieces of legislation.

First, we urged Congress to pass the “Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010.” It will lend up to $30 billion to community banks to make loans to small businesses as well as provide $12 million in tax relief to small businesses.

Since many of us are small business owners ourselves, we could be eligible for one of these loans and the tax breaks.  Commercial practitioners can also point their clients to these loans to help close a deal.  We all know the commercial sector is in great need of more liquidity and this legislation is a direct answer to that.

Second, Congress unanimously passed a one-year extension for the National Flood Insurance Program.  Since September 2008, Congress had extended the program eight times and let it expire twice.  Getting a one year extension is enormous progress!  And while we’re pleased with it, we will continue our work on this issue by asking Congress for a longer extension and much needed reforms to the program.

Lastly, Congress approved a nine-month extension for the FHA and GSE loan limits.  By pushing for this extension, REALTORS® are standing up for consumers and the U.S. economy.  We want to keep housing affordable for all households right now.  Our economy is still struggling and our industry is in a fragile recovery.  Maintaining the higher loan limits helps keep housing affordable and helps provide stability in the marketplace.

Three weeks.  Three wins.  I’m very proud of our progress.  I want to thank all of the Federal Political Coordinators who visited with their members of Congress to help get these laws passed.

While we’re talking about Washington, I want to remind you that we have less than three weeks until Election Day.  Everything you need to know about the election is posted on the voter portal on the Realtor Action Center.  You can register to vote, see how many REALTORS® are registered in your area and see who NAR is supporting this year.

It’s always a difficult choice, but RPAC supports legislators from both parties who understand and support our business.

I encourage you to do your homework on who’s running in your area and who supports strong real estate policies.   Then get out and vote with the REALTOR® Party on Nov. 2!  Need some more encouragement?  Just listen to your colleagues.

Three weeks from now—if we elect more REALTOR® Champions to Washington—think of the progress we can make in the 52 weeks in 2011.  — Vince Malta, 2010 NAR VP and Liaison to Government Affairs

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

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