Over the past year, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) engaged with federal lawmakers on a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues, with the overarching goal of encouraging sound and robust real estate markets that protect and strengthen the interests of both consumers and NAR members. Following are highlights on 10 key topics.
With strong member support, NAR successfully advocated to avoid a lapse in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) authority and secured two amendments to the 21st Century Flood Reform Act (H.R. 2874), which would reauthorize and reform the NFIP for five years. The amendments also removed provisions ending the grandfathering of flood insurance rates and reduced rate increases for some properties to 6.5 percent (versus 8 percent).
[At press time,] NAR is engaged on multiple fronts, including testimony at a Senate Finance hearing on individual tax reform, ongoing Hill meetings, new advocacy ads, a new coalition to preserve state and local tax deductions (Americans Against Double Taxation), and working with OpenDoor and REach® accelerator companies to create a group “startup” letter supporting NAR’s position on tax reform.
Commercial Tax Reform
NAR staff continues to participate in and coordinate with the activities of the Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchange Coalition, Real Estate Roundtable and the exchange accommodators.
After an extended NAR advocacy effort, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finalized updates to the “Know Before You Owe” mortgage disclosure that allows for sharing closing disclosures with third parties, including real estate agents. Here’s what the CFPB said in its release: “The Bureau understands that it is usual, accepted, and appropriate for creditors and settlement agents to provide a Closing Disclosure to consumers, sellers, and their real estate brokers or other agents. The Bureau is finalizing additional commentary to clarify how a creditor may provide separate disclosure forms to the consumer and the seller.”
Fannie Mae Lending to Student Loan Borrowers
As specifically addressed in NAR’s student loan debt policy, Fannie Mae has changed its underwriting guidelines, allowing lenders to calculate the borrower’s actual lower student debt payment and allowing more borrowers to qualify. Other changes include lower fees for loans that pay off student debt, and removing debt paid by others from underwriting calculations.
A comprehensive communications strategy around data security was developed for members. To further combat real estate wire fraud, NAR continues collaborating with joint trades (lenders, title companies, etc.).
NAR’s strong support of net neutrality rules has included filing a comment letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), ongoing participation with INCOMPAS (the business coalition supporting the maintenance of strong net neutrality rules), and recruiting CMLS into the coalition.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Reform
In order to encourage opportunities for corrective measures, NAR advocated for allowing “notice and cure” for ADA building violations before a lawsuit is filed. Additionally, NAR successfully supported passage of H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 by the House Judiciary Committee.
Housing Finance Reform
NAR continues to meet with staff on the Senate Banking Committee with the goal of forming an industry coalition to discuss and reach a consensus on reform principles. To support these efforts, NAR submitted a written statement to the Senate Banking Committee hearing entitled “Principles of Housing Finance Reform.”
Federal Housing Programs
In addition to various presentations on housing affordability, FHA premiums, and other housing issues, NAR successfully advocated for the confirmation of Pam Patenaude as Deputy Secretary for HUD and Anna Maria Farias for HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
For more information on NAR’s advocacy initiatives, visit www.NAR.realtor/Political-advocacy.
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