Armed with legislative talking points and demographic housing data, Federal Political Coordinators and members of their Federal Political Contact Teams visited all 535 Members of the U. S. Congress during the week of May 9 in Washington, D. C.  Thousands of politically engaged and informed REALTORS® spoke with one voice to help to restore and preserve the integrity of the home buying process.

The National Association of REALTORS®’ legislative priorities before the 112th Congress include the following issues, which were presented to each Member of Congress through personal visits over a five-day period:

Reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The last Congress approved legislation that extended the short-term authority for the NFIP to September 30, 2011.  Members of Congress are asked to reauthorize the NFIP for at least five years and end the uncertainty of extensions and shutdowns which result in real estate transaction delays or cancellations.

Preserve the Mortgage Interest Deduction and Tax Benefits

Members of Congress are asked to cosponsor H. Res. 25 which expresses the sense of the Congress that the current federal Mortgage Interest Deduction for interest paid on debt secured by a first or second home should not be further restricted.

Reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

The comprehensive Government-Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) reform legislation would effectively shut down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  NAR’s position is that the federal government must have a continued key role in the secondary mortgage market.

Extend the Current Mortgage Loan Limits

Loan limits for the GSEs and FHA are set to expire on September 30, 2011. Bills have been introduced in the Senate and the House that would further reduce the GSE limits to the FHA limit of $417,000 nationwide. NAR’s talking point states that, “Reverting to the statutory limits will reduce limits in 619 counties and 41 states and the District of Columbia. The average decline in loan limits will be more than $58,000.”

Oppose Legislation Requiring 20% Down Payment

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, mortgage securitizers are required to retain 5% of the risk of mortgages unless the mortgage is a Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM). The proposed rule issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of the Comptroller, and the Housing Finance Agency would require borrowers to make a 20% down payment and meet other stringent requirements.  If down payment requirements increase to 20%, NAR estimates it would take a frugal family more than 14 years to accrue the savings needed to buy a home, further stalling the recovery of the housing market.

Require Servicers to Approve a Short Sale within 45 Days

Delays in approving requests for a short sale remain a significant impediment to this foreclosure avoidance option.  Streamlining short sales will reduce the amount of time it takes to sell the property, improve the likelihood the transaction will close, and reduce the number of foreclosures.  This action will benefit lenders, sellers, buyers and communities.

Build Community

We wish to thank the Members of the U. S. House of Representatives from the Greater Harris County area who took time from their busy schedules to meet with us to discuss our concerns and solutions:  Kevin Brady, John Culberson, Al Green, Gene Green, Sheila Jackson Lee, Michael McCaul, Pete Olson, Ron Paul, and Ted Poe.  These elected officials either joined us for breakfast at Tortilla Coast located near Capitol Hill or met with us in their offices in the Cannon or Rayburn Buildings on May 11-12.  Their and their staff’s due diligence and support for our issues is so very much appreciated.

NAR Directors, HAR Directors, Federal Political Coordinators, and TREPAC leadership who carried the REALTOR® message from Houston to  Washington include Lorraine Abercrombie, Shad Bogany, Carlos Bujosa, Margie Dorrance, John Eckstrum, Danny Frank, Vicki Fullerton, Nancy Furst, Pattie Huey, Bill Jones, Chaille Ralph, Wayne Stroman, Mark Woodroof, Marilyn Arendt, Kenya Burrell-VanWormer, Mario Arriaga, David Schwarz, John Nichols, Joan Berger, Delora Wilkinson, Gerald Womack, Jim Dambeck, Ed Wolff, Becky Hill, Courtney Johnson Rose, Marilyn Arendt, Sharon Morton, and Tiffany Curry.  HAR’s Governmental Affairs Team is so grateful for the time and resources these HAR members expended to represent the Realtor community before our federal elected officials.

Stay Connected

As the above issues work their way through Congress and a new congressional district is added to Harris County, Congressional District 26, you are encouraged to stay informed by reading the HAR Governmental Affairs Department’s updates posted regularly on HARConnect.

Connie Parsons, Marilyn and Ward Arendt, and Karen Driscoll shared their valuable photos with us for which we are most grateful.