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RISMEDIA, March 13, 2008-Members of the New Jersey Association of REALTORS® (NJAR) 2008 leadership team visited Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. last week to discuss key issues that have an impact on property owners and the real estate industry, including “The Community Choice in Real Estate Act.” NJAR President Drew Fishman (Northfield, NJ), President-Elect Diane Dilzell (Bedminster, NJ), First Vice President Robert Southwick (Princeton, NJ), Treasurer Christina Banasiak (Manalapan, NJ), Immediate Past President William Hanley (Metuchen, NJ), Executive Vice President Jarrod Grasso (Edison, NJ) and NJAR staff participated in the meetings with New Jersey’s congressional and senate delegations.

“Going to Washington, D.C. for our annual meetings with national lawmakers is an excellent way to put the spotlight on the issues REALTORS® in New Jersey care about,” said NJAR® President Drew Fishman, CRS. “We are grateful our representatives took the time to meet with us to discuss key legislative initiatives that impact the local housing market and homeowners in our state. Overall, our concerns and proposals were met with very positive and favorable interest from our congressional and senate delegations. Hopefully, they will refer to these discussions when it comes time for them to make a decision on these important matters.”

During the meetings, NJAR leadership praised the members of Congress who supported the two-year provision that prohibits giving real estate brokerage, leasing and management powers to national banks and financial holding company subsidiaries. The measure was recently signed into law as part of the FY2008 appropriations bill. Additionally, NJAR encouraged lawmakers to work to secure a permanent ban by enacting H.R. 111 “The Community Choice in Real Estate Act.”

NJAR members also voiced their support of the Veterans Home Loan Guaranty Program, saying it continues to be an excellent way to help New Jersey’s veterans achieve their dreams of homeownership. The Realtor organization called for legislative changes it believes would enhance the program’s effectiveness, including increasing the loan limits in high cost areas and easing refinancing requirements. Believing H.R. 4884 sponsored by Representative Bob Filner (D-CA) will achieve the desired changes; the NJAR leadership team asked the New Jersey delegation for their support of the bill.

“The Capitol Hill visit was a great forum for NJAR to voice our strong support of increasing housing opportunities for our veterans,” said NJAR Executive Vice President Jarrod Grasso, RCE. “It’s our hope that our advocacy efforts will lead to improvements in the current VA Home Loan Guaranty Program. For areas like New Jersey where home prices tend to be higher, increasing the loans limits is especially critical.”

New Jersey Realtors touched on several other issues, including addressing the health insurance challenges facing the self-employed and small business community. NJAR also called on lawmakers to provide adequate funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) map modernization program to ensure that flood maps are updated and as accurate as possible.

“Over the last several years, New Jersey has witnessed first-hand the devastating effect floods can have on our communities and families,” added Fishman. “That is why NJAR strongly supports providing the necessary funding to continue updating and digitizing the nation’s flood maps.”

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