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brown_bill_official_2016Homeownership is still a vital—though vulnerable—component of the American Dream. Protecting it, as well as promoting it, is at the top of the docket for National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2017 President Bill Brown, who recently discussed his agenda at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla.

“Homeownership offers tremendous value, helping communities stabilize and families build wealth,” said Brown, a second-generation Realtor® and founder of Investment Properties in Oakland, Calif. “High prices, low inventories, rising rents and student debt burdens are all part of a deck that’s heavily stacked against buyers in competitive markets, but there’s reason for optimism ahead. Realtors® are working hard to ensure clients meet their personal and financial real estate goals, and NAR is helping give Realtors® the tools to get the job done.”

Brown pointed to historically low borrowing costs as an opportunity for buyers, as well as real estate investors, while noting that challenges still remain. Recent NAR survey data show a lingering misconception about how much of a down payment is required to purchase a home, a factor that may unnecessarily delay some qualified young adults from entering the market.

Access to mortgage credit remains a challenge, as well, particularly for those borrowers with “thin” credit histories. Brown noted that low- and moderate-income buyers who have avoided debt may have trouble accessing mortgage credit despite years of on-time rent payments, consistent water and electric bill payments, or other indicators of a strong borrowing profile.

Brown also highlighted the need to protect the mortgage interest deduction and preserve a secondary mortgage market that ensures liquidity sufficient to provide safe, affordable mortgage credit to all qualified borrowers.

Part of making credit available, Brown said, is keeping fees low. He noted that guarantee fees, loan-level price adjustments and other costs shouldered by conventional mortgage borrowers are locking out individuals who have strong credit. Brown said steps need to be taken to reduce fees for borrowers while still taking reasonable, responsible steps to protect taxpayer dollars.

“Our goal is to make sure every qualified buyer who wants to purchase a home has that chance,” Brown said. “In the year ahead, we’ll be working to bring down the needless hurdles that stand in the way of prospective homeowners. That’s good for buyers, good for communities, and good for the economy overall, and I’m excited for what we have ahead of us.”

Brown was installed as NAR 2017 President on November 7. He recently participated in RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine NAR Power Broker Roundtable.

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