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UDuring the 114th Congress, NAR’s legislative and regulatory agenda has been focused on efforts to stimulate, stabilize and strengthen real estate markets across the nation while protecting the business interests of members. In 2016, NAR will be focused on the following public policy initiatives:

Homeownership and Real Estate Investment Tax Policies

The growing federal debt, weak economic recovery and continued growth of tax complexity have kept tax reform near the top of the national agenda. Members of Congress from both Houses and both parties have expressed interest in reforming the tax system, and President Obama has expressed qualified support, especially for corporate or business tax reform. Issues that NAR will be focused on include state and local tax deductions and capital gains, as well as:

  • Mortgage Debt Cancellation Tax Relief – NAR supports an exclusion from taxation of the “phantom income” generated when all or a portion of a mortgage loan is forgiven.
  • Mortgage Interest Deduction – NAR opposes any changes that would limit or undermine current law.

Credit and Lending Policies

Overly stringent lending standards have continued to limit the availability of affordable mortgage financing for credit-worthy consumers. Federal policymakers are weighing a number of proposals aimed at creating healthier housing and mortgage markets. Issues that NAR will be focused on include credit availability, FHA lifetime mortgage insurance premiums, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac restructuring, and liquidity and lending, as well as:

  • FHA Condominium Requirements & Financing – NAR believes that loosening FHA’s condo rules will ensure that more homeowners will be able to sell their units, and homebuyers will have more opportunities to buy affordable properties.
  • National Flood Insurance Reauthorization – Without the NFIP, millions of home and small business owners in 20,000 communities nationwide would not be able to obtain a mortgage or insurance. NAR supports renewing and strengthening the long-term viability of the federal flood insurance program.

Business Operations 

There are a number of issues before Congress and the Federal Regulatory Agencies that could have a significant impact on the business operations of real estate firms. Issues that NAR will be focused on include TRID implementation, net neutrality, data privacy and security, as well as:

  • Patent Reform – NAR believes that without needed reforms that assure that asserted patent rights are legitimate, the ability of businesses owned by REALTORS® to grow, innovate and better serve modern consumers will be put at risk.
  • Appraiser Independence Regulations – NAR supports and encourages credible, independent valuations of real property, because valuations are critical to the health of the overall real estate industry.

Commercial

More than $1.2 trillion in commercial real estate loans will come due over the next few years, and many of these deals will have trouble getting financing. NAR supports consideration of legislation and regulations to protect and enhance the flow of capital to commercial real estate. Issues that NAR will be focused on include lease accounting and Basel III, as well as:

  • 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges – NAR opposes any change that would undermine the deferral mechanisms associated with exchanges.
  • Waters of the United States (Clean Water Act) – Depending on the “U.S. Water” definition, the Act will require expensive, time-consuming federal permits to develop private property near most water bodies—not just those which are navigable. NAR believes that only Congress can fundamentally alter the Clean Water Act, and will continue to oppose any efforts to expand the Act’s reach or otherwise infringe on property rights.

This column is brought to you by the NAR Real Estate Services group.

To view NAR’s full scope of public policy initiatives, visit www.realtor.org/political-advocacy.

Sarah Young is the director of Real Estate Services for the National Association of REALTORS®.

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