Key federal issues discussed in Washington

By Kathleen McQuilkin | May 18, 2017 | 2 min. read

Pennsylvania Realtors® are meeting with members of Congress this week to discuss several of NAR’s key federal legislative issues during NAR’s Realtor® Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C. We’re marking NAR’s Realtor® Advocacy Month and this week’s “act” theme.

One of the key issues we explained is how important it is for Congress to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, which will expire Sept. 30.

It’s staggering to know that each time the NFIP lapses, it costs 40,000 property sales per month. Without reauthorization, NFIP cannot issue or renew policies in 22,000 communities where flood insurance is required for a mortgage.

Pennsylvania ranks 12th in the nation in policies through the NFIP. In addition, the commonwealth ranks fifth in the nation in flood claims. The NFIP is critical to the real estate market in Pennsylvania. The Federal Emergency Management Agency statistics show that from 2006 through 2014, Pennsylvania property owners filed more than 18,000 claims with the NFIP, exceeding $551 million in damages, with claims filed from 66 of the state’s 67 counties.

Realtors® reminded the legislators that federal tax reform must not dilute the current real estate tax provisions vital to the housing market and the economy. NAR believes that repealing or weakening tax incentives – like the mortgage interest and property tax deductions – deter homeownership. And middle-income homeowners could be worse off under proposals that limit tax incentives for homeownership. PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis showed that homeowning families with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 would face tax hikes in the year after enactment. The PricewaterhouseCoopers study estimates that home values could plunge by more than 10 percent if tax incentives for homeownership are limited.

In addition, we encouraged representatives to preserve the like-kind exchanges, which are essential to the commercial real estate sector and to the economy.

We also explained that NAR supports responsible reform for the country’s secondary mortgage market. The association urges prohibiting the use of mortgage guarantee fees, also known as g-fees, to pay for other governmental spending such as tax cuts or transportation spending.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ensure that qualified borrowers have access to safe, affordable mortgage financing. A purely private mortgage market would only provide benefits to a select few.

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