An overview of federal legislative priorities was presented during the National Association of Realtors® annual conference in San Francisco earlier this month.
Shannon McGahn, NAR senior vice president of government relations, said the association has worked to get to know the 100 new members of Congress and explain NAR’s position on several issues this past year.
FHA Condominium Rule Assessment
New changes to the Federal Housing Administration condominium loan policies took effect Oct. 15 and will enable more first-time buyers, older adults and low- to moderate-income families to afford a home, according to McGahn.
NAR has advocated for these changes for more than a decade and expects the changes will enable thousands more to be able to purchase a home. The new guidance extends certifications from two years to three, allows for single-unit mortgage approvals, provides more flexibility with owner/occupancy ratios and increases the allowable number of FHA loans in a single project.
NAR continues to work with legislators to provide a vision for the secondary mortgage market which will promote a reliable and affordable source of mortgage financing for American homebuyers.
Government Sponsored Enterprises or GSEs – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – were placed into conservatorship following their financial trouble. Ten years later, GSEs remain in conservatorship. NAR believes the GSEs should be transitioned out of conservatorship, but in a responsible manner that will protect taxpayers and retain the enterprises’ mission.
NAR’s new vision includes:
- Leveraging reforms and innovations implemented since the crisis while completing the process with instrumental updates for a fully functioning liquid market.
- Promoting competition in the secondary market through proven structures to correct market failures.
- Preserving the 30-year fixed rate mortgage and focusing the mission on liquid secondary markets for Middle America and underserved borrowers.
- Minimizing the cost to consumers in normal and stress periods, while maximizing access for creditworthy borrowers.
- Protecting taxpayers by using private capital.
- Maintaining simplicity in the transition while avoiding market disruptions.
McGahn noted that infrastructure is a top issue with Realtors® across the country because infrastructure improvements have been shown to enhance property values. Senate Bill 2302, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, has bipartisan support and would make significant, much-needed investments in surface transportation infrastructure.
“NAR will be engaged in every step of the way,” she added.
NAR met with the U.S. Department of Labor expressing support of the department’s rulemaking that expanded access to association health plans for independent contractors.
Litigation has stalled the adoption of AHPs and the case was schedule to be heard before the Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C. last week. NAR filed an amicus brief in defense of the rule, which received the support of more than 200 state and local Realtor® associations, including Pennsylvania.
A decision is not expected until next year.
Federal Tax issues
Evan Liddiard, NAR senior policy representative on federal taxation, said 1031 like-kind exchanges are in danger of being eliminated in an effort to eliminate what some consider a loophole.
He said NAR is working to educate Congress and explain how important 1031 exchanges are to the real estate industry. The exchange rules provide an opportunity to facilitate two transactions: the sale of property and the purchase of a replacement property.
Liddiard said NAR continues to look at the consequences of the federal tax reform. The latest research shows that only 10% of homeowners can take advantage of itemizing expenses on their federal income tax. NAR is looking to roll back the marriage penalty deduction, which allows a $10,000 cap for single filers and a $10,000 cap for couples. A NAR committee is studying the issue and will create a program to help homeowners. In addition, NAR is advocating for a bold first-time homebuyer tax plan.
More details on NAR’s federal advocacy efforts is available online.