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Female hand holding keysThe U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to advance legislation that will expand opportunities for homeownership. H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act,” includes a number of initiatives that have strong support from the National Association of REALTORS®, who hailed the vote as important progress for home buyers and sellers.

“This legislation will put homeownership in reach for more families, and we applaud Congress’s work to take us there,” says NAR President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida. “We look forward to seeing it advance through the legislative process and to the President’s desk, so it can be signed into law.”

NAR testified last year in support of H.R. 3700 before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance. In particular, NAR championed the inclusion of reforms to current Federal Housing Administration restrictions on condominium financing.

Condominiums are among the most affordable homeownership options for first-time homebuyers, as well as lower income borrowers, but barriers to safe, affordable mortgage credit for condos still exist. H.R. 3700 takes a number of steps to address those concerns.

These include efforts to make FHA’s recertification process “substantially less burdensome,” improving a process that is often costly and which condo developments must repeat every 24 months. H.R. 3700 also lowers FHA’s current owner-occupancy requirement from 50 percent to 35 percent and requires FHA to replace existing policy on transfer fees with the less-restrictive model already in place at the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Additionally, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act” streamlines the process for exemptions to FHA’s rule requiring that condominium projects have no more than 25 percent of the space dedicated to commercial use. This effort is in line with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s initiative to promote neighborhoods with a mix of residential housing, businesses and access to public transportation.

Finally, H.R. 3700 includes further support for rural housing loans and multifamily housing initiatives.

For more information, visit www.realtor.org.

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