REALTORS® stand ready to protect and defend opportunities for homeownership, and many of them have gathered here at the 2011 REALTORS® Conference & Expo to prepare for the challenges ahead.
During the opening session at this week’s meetings, National Association of REALTORS® President Ron Phipps outlined obstacles and opportunities facing the real estate industry.
“For the first time in generations, the American dream of homeownership is being threatened,” said Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “We need to keep housing first on the nation’s public policy agenda, because housing and home ownership issues affect all Americans.”
NAR is actively advocating public policies that promote responsible, sustainable homeownership. Those include ensuring affordable, accessible financing; supporting tax policies that encourage homeownership; and helping more people stay in their homes or avoid foreclosure through streamlined short sales.
As REALTORS® convene in California this week, conforming loan limits is one top-of-mind issue. On October 1, Congress allowed those limits to revert from 125 percent of the local area median home price to 115 percent of the local median home price. As a result, home buyers and sellers in 669 counties across 42 states and the District of Columbia have been affected. The lower limits mean that fewer people will have access to mortgage loans, and the loans that are available will be more expensive.
“Mortgage availability remains a real concern since the private market has yet to return,” said Phipps. “While the housing market is still in recovery, we firmly believe that lower loan limits will only further restrict liquidity in mortgage markets.”
NAR has urged Congress to reinstate the higher loan limits temporarily, and more than 200 members of Congress currently support efforts to reinstate these limits.
Session attendees also heard about the results of last month’s New Solutions for America’s Housing Crisis forum. The forum was hosted by the Progressive Policy Institute and Economic Policies for the 21st Century and brought together policy leaders, industry representatives, members of Congress, thought leaders and the media.
From this forum, NAR has endorsed a five-point housing solutions plan to help reenergize housing markets and spur the economic recovery.
“Many of the solutions that came out of this forum evolved from ideas that Realtors® have been advocating for several years,” said Phipps. “Realtors® and the families we work with, day in and day out, know that homeownership matters, and now, with our combined and continued efforts, we’re going to make sure that policymakers understand that, too.”
This year’s Realtors® Conference & Expo is expected to draw approximately 18,000 Realtors® and guests. More than 400 exhibitors are expected to participate in the Expo, which showcases the latest real estate products and innovations across various fields, including technology, data communications and financial programs and services.