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Get Involved: NAR Outlines Public Policy Priorities Ahead of D.C. Rally This Week

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Many REALTORS® are asking the questions – why is NAR having this rally? Are there specific bills or legislation we are trying to pass or defeat? What is the urgency?

Congress addresses a myriad of real estate issues every year. What makes this year unique is that for the first time ever the American dream, as we know it, is under attack, NAR says. It is time to remind Congress that owning a home is an indispensable thread of the American fabric. REALTORS® need to protect homeownership in America for today and tomorrow.

NAR notes that this is an election year, giving REALTORS® an excellent opportunity to present our critical issues to Congress before voters head to the polls in November. This rally serves to remind Congress, as they address the issues listed below, that REALTORS® are demanding action. According to NAR, as REALTORS®, we have an obligation to protect not only the millions of current homeowners, but the future generations of Americans who want to own a home or other real property.

NAR is rallying to tell Congress, first do no harm to real estate. A full and lasting economic recovery will only occur with a vibrant real estate sector leading the way. NAR hopes to tell Congress that REALTORS® are not sitting on the sidelines waiting for action. This, according to NAR, is why REALTORS® need to come to Washington – to demand action for homeowners, for our communities and for our nation.

Below, NAR has compiled a list of the critical issues Congress is currently facing as it relates to your business:

Taxation

An exploding federal debt has forced tax reform into the limelight. In December 2010, a deficit reduction commission offered a variety of models for both simplifying the tax code and increasing the amount of revenue it generates. The combination of the deficit, the need to increase the US credit limit (aka the debt ceiling) and the fragile economy have lined up to force a major political debate about the relative mix of spending and revenue. As a result, a variety of tax laws, including those affected by commercial and residential real estate, could be reviewed with a focus on raising revenue.

•Mortgage Interest Deduction: NAR opposes any changes that would limit or undermine current law. In 2011, NAR secured 183 bi-partisan co-sponsors for H. Res 25, which “expresses the sense of the Congress that the current Federal income tax deduction for interest paid on debt secured by a first or second home should not be further restricted.”

•Capital Gains – Exclusion on Sale of Residence: NAR opposes any changes that would reduce or limit the capital gains exemption ($250,000/$500,000) on the sale of a home.

•Property Tax Deduction: NAR opposes any changes that would reduce or eliminate current laws.

Real Estate Finance

Coupled with a lack of available and affordable mortgage financing, delinquencies are surging and foreclosure rates continue to rise. Federal policymakers are weighing a number of proposals aimed at creating healthier housing and mortgage markets.

•Government Sponsored Enterprises: NAR is recommending that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be converted into government-chartered, non-shareholder owned authorities that are subject to tighter regulations on product, revenue generation and usage, and retained portfolio practices in a way that ensures they accomplish their mission and protect the taxpayer.

•Credit Policies: NAR believes the credit and lending communities and federal regulators should reassess the entire credit structure and look for ways to increase the availability of credit to qualified borrowers who are good credit risks. Specifically, NAR supports S. 170, “The Helping Responsible Homeowners Act,” the Administration’s proposal to significantly reduce monthly mortgage payments by streamlining the refinancing process (HARP 2), and expansion of FHA’s 203(k) program.

•Short Sales: NAR continues to push the lending industry to expedite short sales and is working with Congress to get legislation passed to make the short sales process more efficient.

Property Insurance

For the past several years, Congress has been approving short-term extensions of the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) authority to issue flood insurance policies while they continue to debate long-term fiscal reforms to the program. The most recent extension was on Dec. 17, 2011, when Congress extended it through May 31, 2012. NAR is urging Congress to use the additional time to complete work on a 5-year NFIP re-authorization bill to provide certainty and avoid further disruption to real estate markets.

Appraisal Issues

Over the last 18-36 months, a host of rules, regulations, and laws have been announced to further protect appraiser independence. NAR strongly supports the independence of appraisers and the appraisal process. Additionally, NAR opposes the use of indemnification clauses by Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs) which places pressure on the appraiser, compromises their independence, and has a negative effect on the quality of appraisal reports. NAR will also pursue legislative and regulatory efforts to require AMCs to retain competent and qualified appraisers.

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