The Houston Association of Realtors®’ Governmental Affairs Department hosted Greater Harris County Congressional Delegation Breakfasts at Tortilla Coast on May 12 and 13 and met with our nine Members of Congress in Washington D.C. during the National Association of Realtors® Mid-Year Meetings.
Because of the political and economic climate, HAR and NAR have been monitoring numerous pieces of legislation affecting commercial and residential real estate. In the past three months, NAR has issued calls for action to members asking for them to contact their Member of Congress to voice our concerns about pending legislation that affect our business such as reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program and preventing new tax burdens on real estate. If you receive a call for action, please respond so that your Member of Congress will know how certain pieces of legislation may affect your business. For more information, please visit www.realtoractioncenter.com.
Talking points covered with our Members of Congress included:
Expanding Affordable Property Insurance
Today, the federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars on rebuilding underinsured properties in the aftermath of natural disasters. HAR and NAR urge Congress to adopt a more forward-looking national policy that improves availability of affordable property insurance, including long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program.
Commercial Mortgage Market Liquidity
The freeze in our nation’s credit markets has adversely affected commercial and investment real estate. Property owners seeking to refinance existing loans are finding access to credit limited. Restoration of the orderly functioning of commercial financial markets is essential. Congress should pass H.R.3380/S.2919 to increase the cap on credit union commercial lending, urge the Federal Reserve and Treasury to encourage banks to provide term extensions for performing properties and hold additional hearings on the state of commercial real estate markets.
FHA Reform and FHA Loan Limits
The Federal Housing Administration has proven the key role that it plays in the nation’s housing markets. In 2009, when many lenders had exited the market, the FHA insured nearly 30 percent of the nation’s single family mortgage market and funded more than 50 percent of first-time homebuyers. Congress should pass legislation to strengthen FHA while still allowing it to provide access to safe, affordable financing for responsible borrowers unserved by the private market. Congress should also make permanent the existing higher FHA loan limit formula and loan limit cap.
GE Reform and GSE Loan Limits
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have helped to ensure a continual flow of capital to the mortgage market in all markets and in all economic conditions. Moving forward, the federal government must have a continued key role in the secondary mortgage market in order to ensure that there is capital for mortgage lending throughout all mortgage markets and in all market conditions. Congress should also make permanent the existing higher loan limit formula and loan limit cap.