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Realtors Call for Congress to Develop Comprehensive National Natural Disaster Policy

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RISMEDIA, March 29, 2007-The National Association of Realtors(R) called upon Congress to act now to establish a forward-looking and comprehensive natural disaster policy that includes disaster preparedness and encourages personal responsibility.

The policy should recognize that property owners, private insurance markets, and all levels of government must work together to successfully address the problem of available and affordable property insurance, especially in disaster prone areas, NAR said.

"A strong real estate market is the linchpin of a healthy economy, generating jobs, wages, tax revenue and a demand for goods and services. To maintain a strong economy, the vitality of residential and commercial real estate must be safeguarded," said Gary Thomas, CEO of RE/MAX Real Estate Services in Aliso Viejo, Calif., representing NAR at the hearing.

The availability and affordability of property insurance are predominantly consumer issues with potential repercussions to the national economy. Before the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, NAR pledged to work with Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and the full Committee on Financial Services to help Congress craft a national natural disaster plan that would include accessible and affordable insurance, improved preparedness and thorough planning for recovery efforts.

In written testimony, NAR expanded on the importance of insurance to finance the purchase of real estate. "The inability to obtain affordable insurance is a serious threat to residential real estate, impacting the purchase of single family homes, condos, co-operatives and rental units," Thomas said. "The cost of owning a home is directly tied to insurance costs, and it affects rental prices as well."

NAR is a leading advocate for homeownership and has been an active proponent for the creation of comprehensive federal natural disaster legislation. Last September, the trade group hosted a Federal Natural Disaster Policy Symposium, where attendees from across the country reiterated that natural disasters are a national problem and that state resources are not sufficient to deal with such "mega-catastrophes."

NAR President Pat Vredevoogd Combs last week wrote to Florida Senators Bill Nelson (D) and Mel Martinez (R) commending them for introducing legislation addressing natural disaster insurance and the issues of preparedness, responsibility, mitigation and infrastructure. NAR said Congress' comprehensive approach to natural disaster policy should also promote mitigation measures, ensure insurance availability and strengthen critical infrastructure. "Ensuring such a plan is adopted is a top priority for NAR," said Thomas. "NAR stands ready to work with Congress on this important issue."

For more information, visit http://www.realtor.org.

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