Tag Archives: Energy News

Monday Minute

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/W9x08q--awA/monday-minute-week-of-april-24-2017

2017 Spring Break Report from NAR Government Affairs

Congress is approaching their April District Work Period. The District Work Period is an excellent opportunity to interact with your Members of Congress in advance of the 2017 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. May 15-20.

Several issues have emerged in the early stages of Congress that are of critical importance to REALTORS®. It is essential for REALTORS® to highlight NAR’s positions on these issues to ensure Members of Congress do not enact proposals that would disrupt real estate markets around the nation.  

Tax Reform

Despite its status as one of the top priorities of both Congressional Leadership and the Trump Administration, tax reform remains in the discussion stages with much work remaining before any tax reform plan comes up for votes. The on-going debate places a number of tax laws, including those affecting commercial and residential real estate, under increased scrutiny.  

Threats to the Tax Benefits of Homeownership

  • Massive increases to the standard deduction reduce the relevance of itemized deductions.
  • Taxpayers claim the higher of the actual itemized deductions or the standard deduction.
  • Elimination of most other itemized deductions, such as the deduction for state and local taxes paid, would greatly exacerbate the effect of a higher standard deduction.

Projected Timeline

Tax reform legislation is likely to come into focus in late summer 2017.

NAR’s Issue Summary

National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization

NAR supports renewing and strengthening the long-term viability of the federal flood insurance program, as well as maintaining funding to update and improve the accuracy of flood maps. The current program expires on September 30, 2017. NAR is working closely with Congress to ensure the program does not lapse. A program lapse could affect nearly 40,000 real estate transactions per month.

NAR Flood Principles

  • Long Term Reauthorization
  • Affordable Rates through Risk Mitigation
  • Accurately Priced Premiums 
  • Strong NFIP Homeowner’s Advocate
  • Improved Flood Mapping

Projected Timeline

NFIP legislation is likely to move in late spring 2017.

NAR’s Issue Summary

Government Sponsored Enterprises Reform (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac)

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a key role in the secondary mortgage market, which is crucial in providing capital for mortgage lending. Without the GSEs and FHA-insured loans, there would be almost no capital available for mortgage lending. This would severely restrict, if not curtail, home sales and any supporting ancillary home sales services.

NAR GSE Reform Principles

  • NAR supports restructuring the secondary mortgage market to ensure a reliable and affordable source of mortgage capital for consumers
  • Restructuring of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to end government conservatorship

Projected Timeline

GSE legislation has no projected start date.

NAR’s Issue Summary

GSE Guarantee Fees (G-fees)

NAR is very concerned with the high G-fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have translated into huge profits for the entities. These profits show that the current fees and pricing do not reflect the improved profitability or reduced credit losses that the GSEs experienced over the last few years.  NAR will continue to push the GSEs for robust underwriting guidelines that put homeownership above profitability so that conventional borrowers are not priced out of the market.

Representatives Sanford (R-SC) and Sherman (D-CA) have introduced g-fee legislation H.R. 916, the “Risk Management and Homeowner Stability Act.”

Projected Timeline

Currently it is unclear if similar legislation will be introduced in the U.S. Senate.

NAR’s Issue Summary
 

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/x3hvaW6XFtI/spring-break-report

May is REALTOR® Advocacy Month

ABOUT REALTOR® ADVOCACY MONTH

REALTOR® Advocacy Month is a celebration designed to engage and educate REALTORS® to Vote, Act and Invest in advocacy. Throughout three weeks in May, the National Association of REALTORS® invites you to use the more than 80 programs, services and grants offered by the REALTOR® Party to demonstrate the importance of advocacy at the national, state and local levels.

Each week has a Vote, Act or Invest theme that offers state and local associations opportunities to tout their candidate and issue campaign success, hold a voter registration drive, hold a community outreach event, or educate members on RPAC (the REALTORS® Political Action Committee). Feel free to use examples of activities to hold throughout the year. We encourage you to consult NAR and your state association to confirm if your activities meet the Core Standards advocacy requirements.

As you are holding activities, post photos and videos of your association’s advocacy efforts on social media using the hashtag #REALTORParty. Be sure to tag us (REALTOR® Action Center on Facebook and @REALTORAction on Twitter) in your post. Submit your advocacy activities using the feedback form.

TELL US WHAT YOU’RE DOING FOR REALTOR® ADVOCACY MONTH

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/z8sR5MBG1wg/may-is-realtor-advocacy-month

VA Reconsiders Limits on Fees

By Megan Booth, Joe Harris, Sehar Siddiqi

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/BzOKhZWkd1s/va-reconsiders-limits-on-fees

Co-Marketing in a Digital Age under RESPA

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/WyWq3hs_qPY/co-marketing-in-a-digital-age-under-respa

First-time Home Buyer Savings Account Signed into Law in Mississippi

Mississippi is helping lead the way to home ownership after Gov. Phil Bryant today signed HB 1601 into law. 

The law establishes a First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account, allowing Mississippians to create monetary savings accounts for down payments or other home purchase related expenses. 

Mississippi REALTORS® President David Griffith said home ownership is part of the American dream. 

“With this law, more Mississippians will be able to invest in themselves and their communities,” he said. “One of our priorities as REALTORS® is to provide every Mississippian the opportunity to own a home. Through the leadership of Gov. Bryant, Speaker Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Mississippi has created a smoother path to homeownership.” 

The law enables individual Mississippians to deduct up to $2,500 from state adjusted gross income annually, and couples filing jointly are able to deduct up to $5,000 annually from their state adjusted gross income. Interest earned on the account is also exempt from state gross income, and there is no cap on the aggregate amount that can be saved. 

Eligible single-family homes includes newly-constructed homes, existing homes, manufactured homes, modular homes, mobile homes, condominium units or cooperatives.

Individual account holders are responsible for maintaining the funds in a separate account and reporting to the Department of Revenue. Unqualified use of the funds is penalized 10 percent and all back taxes associated with the account. 

HB 1601 was introduced by Rep. Jeff Smith. It unanimously passed the House and passed the Senate 51-1. 

“The Mississippi REALTORS® would like to thank Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith, Finance Committee Chairman Joey Fillingane, Rep. Jason White and Sen. Barbara Blackmon for helping to make the dream of home ownership a reality for all Mississippians,” said Clarke Wise, Mississippi REALTORS® Governmental Affairs Director. 

As a result of the law, projections indicate approximately 379 new homes will be constructed to meet demand. It is also estimated that first-time homebuyer households will spend an additional $1,830 annually in their communities. 

The law goes into effect immediately. Mississippians can begin taking the tax deduction in tax year 2018. 

Mississippi is now one of only four states to have a First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account program. Montana, Virginia, and Colorado passed similar laws in recent years. “We hope that other states will follow Mississippi’s example and provide similar relief for first-time home buyers,” Griffith said. 

Mississippi is the fourth state to sign First Time Home Buyer Savings Accounts into law, joining Montana, Virginia and Colorado.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/Dl4ti2zL_Vc/first-time-home-buyer-savings-account-signed-into-law-in-mississippi

NAR Publishes Co-Marketing Do's and Don'ts

By Sarah C. Young, Christie DeSanctis

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/rv15WUVas58/nar-publishes-co-marketing-dos-and-donts

Spring Break Report from NAR Government Affairs

Congress is approaching their April District Work Period. The District Work Period is an excellent opportunity to interact with your Members of Congress in advance of the 2017 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. May 15-20.

Several issues have emerged in the early stages of Congress that are of critical importance to REALTORS®. It is essential for REALTORS® to highlight NAR’s positions on these issues to ensure Members of Congress do not enact proposals that would disrupt real estate markets around the nation.  

Tax Reform

Despite its status as one of the top priorities of both Congressional Leadership and the Trump Administration, tax reform remains in the discussion stages with much work remaining before any tax reform plan comes up for votes. The on-going debate places a number of tax laws, including those affecting commercial and residential real estate, under increased scrutiny.  

Threats to the Tax Benefits of Homeownership

  • Massive increases to the standard deduction reduce the relevance of itemized deductions.
  • Taxpayers claim the higher of the actual itemized deductions or the standard deduction.
  • Elimination of most other itemized deductions, such as the deduction for state and local taxes paid, would greatly exacerbate the effect of a higher standard deduction.

Projected Timeline

Tax reform legislation is likely to come into focus in late summer 2017.

NAR’s Issue Summary

National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization

NAR supports renewing and strengthening the long-term viability of the federal flood insurance program, as well as maintaining funding to update and improve the accuracy of flood maps. The current program expires on September 30, 2017. NAR is working closely with Congress to ensure the program does not lapse. A program lapse could affect nearly 40,000 real estate transactions per month.

NAR Flood Principles

  • Long Term Reauthorization
  • Affordable Rates through Risk Mitigation
  • Accurately Priced Premiums 
  • Strong NFIP Homeowner’s Advocate
  • Improved Flood Mapping

Projected Timeline

NFIP legislation is likely to move in late spring 2017.

NAR’s Issue Summary

Government Sponsored Enterprises Reform (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac)

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a key role in the secondary mortgage market, which is crucial in providing capital for mortgage lending. Without the GSEs and FHA-insured loans, there would be almost no capital available for mortgage lending. This would severely restrict, if not curtail, home sales and any supporting ancillary home sales services.

NAR GSE Reform Principles

  • NAR supports restructuring the secondary mortgage market to ensure a reliable and affordable source of mortgage capital for consumers
  • Restructuring of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to end government conservatorship

Projected Timeline

GSE legislation has no projected start date.

NAR’s Issue Summary

GSE Guarantee Fees (G-fees)

NAR is very concerned with the high G-fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have translated into huge profits for the entities. These profits show that the current fees and pricing do not reflect the improved profitability or reduced credit losses that the GSEs experienced over the last few years.  NAR will continue to push the GSEs for robust underwriting guidelines that put homeownership above profitability so that conventional borrowers are not priced out of the market.

Representatives Sanford (R-SC) and Sherman (D-CA) have introduced g-fee legislation H.R. 916, the “Risk Management and Homeowner Stability Act.”

Projected Timeline

Currently it is unclear if similar legislation will be introduced in the U.S. Senate.

NAR’s Issue Summary
 

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/x3hvaW6XFtI/spring-break-report

Commercial NFIP Priorities

By Austin Perez, Ken Wingert, Erin Stackley

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/bzTSqLHUaas/commercial-nfip-priorities

PACE Reform Bills Introduced

By Russell Riggs, Ken Wingert

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/oGg8gIT7kO4/pace-reform-bills-introduced

Basel III HVCRE regulations

By Erin Stackley, Stephanie A. Spear, Helen Devlin

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/NknB1kxEisQ/basel-iii-hvcre-regulations

NAR Testifies on VA Appraisals

By Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/_07RNEafDbA/nar-testifies-on-va-appraisals

VA Appraisers Few and Far Between in Some Rural Areas

Michelle Bradley, past chair of NAR’s Real Property Valuation Committee, said many appraisers would benefit from a better understanding of what the VA requires for its appraisals.

The VA home loan program is considered the gold standard for appraisal independence, but the system is coming under pressure because veterans often have to endure long delays in finding a VA appraiser, particularly in rural areas.

Michelle Bradley, past president of NAR’s Real Property Valuation Committee, testified before a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee yesterday that delays often just stem from the physical remoteness of many rural areas.   

“If appraisers do not have the data to develop geographic competence in a market, they simply cannot take on [these rural] assignments,” Bradley said at the April 4 hearing.

Bradley cautioned the committee against harming the VA system’s high standards in a quest to attract more appraisers to the program.  “The standards do not need to be changed in my personal opinion,” she said.

What might be a better approach is having education programs more readily available to remove misconceptions many appraisers have about becoming a VA-approved appraiser. “Perhaps there are many appraisers who choose not to request an appointment into a VA-approved panel because of misinformation about overregulation,” she said.  “Appraisers who have never done VA [appraisals] before think, ‘I don’t know what a minimum property requirement is, so I’m too concerned to do it for liability purposes.’ If there was training, in conjunction with open enrollment to join the panel, I think that would take care of some concerns.”

At the hearing, lawmakers looked at whether additional use of automated valuation models, or at least data programs, could help speed up rural appraisals. Among other things, an appraiser who can tap a database rather than drive for hours to physically look at a comparable might help cut the time.

Lawmakers agreed that the more the VA and industry groups can do together to solve these problems, the less need for Congress to pass legislation that could take years to complete. More on the challenges facing the VA appraisal community.

—Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/X1KX8Xjd6kQ/va-appraisers-few-and-far-between-in-some-rural-areas

NAR Commercial Members & RPAC in 2016

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/-8QYo_mE9Ws/nar-commercial-members-rpac-in-2016

2016 RPAC Election Cycle

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/QZjY1H8heys/2016-rpac-election-cycle

With National Flood Insurance Program Expiring in Six Months, Realtors® Sound the Alarm

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2017) — On September 30, just six months from today, the National Flood Insurance Program will expire. The National Association of Realtors® is working closely with federal regulators and members of Congress to strengthen the program and clear the way for a private market to take hold; NAR has also issued a series of principles to improve access and affordability for consumers.  

But Realtors® warn the program’s September 30 reauthorization deadline is a threat to consumers.

NAR President William E. Brown, a second-generation Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties, believes that expiration would deal significant damage to current policy-holding property owners, as well as threaten property sales and the broader housing market.

Brown said that Realtors® see the NFIP’s importance every day in their lives and in their business and made the following statement:

“When the NFIP expired in 2010, over 1,300 home sales were disrupted every day as a result. That’s over 40,000 every month. Flood insurance is required for a mortgage in the 100-year floodplain, but without access to the NFIP, buyers simply couldn’t get a mortgage or vital protection from the No. 1 cause of loss of property and life: flooding.

“This problem affects far more than coastal communities, and prospective homeowners aren’t the only ones at risk. Policyholders in over 22,000 communities across the country depend on the NFIP to protect homes and businesses from torrential rain, swollen rivers and lakes, snowmelt, failing infrastructure, as well as storm surges and hurricanes. When that lifeline is cut off, the NFIP can’t issue new policies or renew existing residential or commercial policies that expire. That means current home and business owners may find their most important asset unprotected.

“Last year was the third largest claims payout year in NFIP’s history, costing more than $4 billion. While there were five billion-dollar floods, including Hurricane Matthew, four of the five were inland, and the largest single event was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in August, just one year out from the NFIP’s expiration date.

“The NFIP isn’t perfect, and reforms are needed. We will continue working closely with everyone involved to achieve those reforms.

“Good work has been done in Congress, at FEMA and elsewhere to clear the way for those efforts. We thank leaders on both sides of the aisle for all they’ve done up to this point. Now, it’s time for action. Congress has six months to do the right thing and pass a long-term reauthorization of the program. We’re hoping they do just that.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

###

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/IcyKhyU4RNQ/with-national-flood-insurance-program-expiring-in-six-months-realtors-sound-the-alarm

Troubled Waters

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/Q0IOVMsljAw/troubled-waters

House Approves Association Health Plan

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/44Br26DCbqk/house-approves-association-health-plan

NAR’s Analysis of the President’s Budget

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/Z0u9apMvPjg/nar-s-analysis-of-the-president-s-budget

NAR Urges Congress to Support Net Neutrality

By Melanie Wyne, Daniel Blair

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/08-IqIvtKhE/nar-urges-congress-to-support-net-neutrality

DOJ Shifts Support Against CFPB

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/eZqrhMSRb_4/doj-shifts-support-against-cfpb

EGRPRA Report to Congress

By Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/lKA8nNbCJSw/egrpra-report-to-congress

REALTOR® Party Corporate Ally Program

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/dLxkKgLlckk/realtor-party-corporate-ally-program

HUD Secretary Launches Listening Tour

By Megan Booth, Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/d0F-gao_bIo/hud-secretary-launches-listening-tour

Senate Commerce Hearing on Drones

By Erin Stackley, Stephanie A. Spear, Russell Riggs

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/Q_GMLeldgac/senate-commerce-hearing-on-drones

President Trump Releases Budget

By Megan Booth, Austin Perez, Joe Harris

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/5vT6QVSshQ8/president-trump-releases-budget

NAR Urges Mnuchin to Protect MID

By Evan Liddiard, Jamie Gregory

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/wU6ZzdzHmWk/nar-urges-mnuchin-to-protect-mid

NAR Supports Sanford/Sherman G-fee Bill

By Vijay Yadlapati, Charles Dawson

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/vlFmcU6h7Ls/sherman-g-fee-bill

Flood Insurance Hearings

By Austin Perez, Ken Wingert, Russell Riggs

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/QS8RIDQcaG8/flood-insurance-hearings

Pres. Trump Signs WOTUS Order

By Russell Riggs, Ken Wingert

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/82Ax1m88e0Q/pres-trump-signs-wotus-order

Carson Becomes HUD Secretary

By Megan Booth, Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/quJvgFncRNE/carson-becomes-hud-secretary

Senate Confirms Carson Nomination as Realtors® Look to Opportunities and Challenges Ahead

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NAR Seeks Improvements to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

By Melanie Wyne, Daniel Blair

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/JtM1LC--6oA/nar-seeks-improvements-to-the-digital-millennium-copyright-act

FHA Appraiser Identity Theft

By Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/fxvT_5E8slI/fha-appraiser-identity-theft

FinCEN Renews Anti-Money Laundering Efforts for High-End Real Estate Transactions

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/bDsjQUAi_Fo/fincen-renews-anti-money-laundering-efforts-for-high-end-real-estate-transactions

FHFA Scorecard Includes Credit Scoring

By Charles Dawson, Vijay Yadlapati, Daniel Blair

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/Lj_qVTBBs34/fhfa-scorecard-includes-credit-scoring

International Money Laundering Organization Issues U.S. Recommendations

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/dEt6GX11ng4/international-money-laundering-organization-issues-us-recommendations

GSE Announce New Modification Program

By Vijay Yadlapati, Charles Dawson

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/CX5jKzGBHGE/gse-announce-new-modification-program

REINS Act Passes House

By Russell Riggs, Ken Wingert

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/D2id9OpDjqM/reins-act-passes-house

Private Flood Insurance Regulation

By Austin Perez, Ken Wingert, Russell Riggs

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/19vNX8dW7lY/private-flood-insurance-regulation

HUD Floodplain Elevation Standard

By Austin Perez, Ken Wingert, Russell Riggs

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/UOqaaypdmNk/hud-floodplain-elevation-standard

FHA Lowers Premiums

By Megan Booth, Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/wTO0a4Z5myk/fha-lowers-premiums

NAR Endorses Dr. Ben Carson

By Megan Booth, Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/ptxpaEeWsfQ/nar-endorses-dr-ben-carson

CFPB Petition for Rehearing PHH Case Granted

On February 16, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) petition for rehearing by the full bench of the D.C. Circuit (en banc), vacating the three-judge panel decision issued on October 11, 2016, in the case of CFPB v. PHH Corporation.

Recall that in October, the three-judge panel vacated a $109 million penalty imposed by the CFPB against PHH for allegedly violating the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by paying for referrals where there is federally related mortgage. The court also held that the unilateral authority of the CFPB vested in a single person – the Director of the CFPB – was unconstitutional because the Director could be dismissed only “for cause,” and not at the discretion of the President.

The court’s granting of the petition for rehearing en banc wholly vacates the panel’s decision, including the conclusion that PHH did not violate Section 8(c)(2) of RESPA, allowing for the possibility that the panel of ten judges reconsider this issue. However, it appears from the court’s order that the focus of the rehearing will be on the question regarding the constitutionality of the CFPB’s single director structure. 

Oral argument is scheduled for May 24, 2017, and a decision may not be released until 2018, which could be subject to further appeals. NAR is still considering whether to file an amicus brief in support of PHH and the RESPA Section 8(c)(2) safe harbor, as was done previously.

View the court’s order 

For a brief overview of the case, see NAR’s Issue Brief

For best practices on MSAs, see NAR’s RESPA Do’s Don’ts for MSAs.

For more background on the case, view NAR’s Window to the Law analysis. 

For more information, see NAR’s topic page on RESPA.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/omVe9wpD_aM/cfpb-petition-for-rehearing-phh-case-granted

Supreme Court to Hear WOTUS Case

By Russell Riggs, Ken Wingert

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/74ffkvUREio/supreme-court-to-hear-wotus-case

Under New Congress, NAR Keeps Focus on You

REALTORS® are gearing up for what is expected to be a busy first three months of the legislative season as a new Congress and new Administration tackle a number of priorities that affect real estate, including tax reform, the Affordable Care Act, regulatory reform, reauthorization of federal flood insurance, and what to do about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Regulatory Reform

Right out of the gate, the House took a stab at regulatory reform, passing a measure that would give Congress more say in the rules federal agencies propose. The Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS) would require agencies to send proposed rules to Congress for a vote if they would have an impact on the economy of $100 million or more.

NAR supports the bill because it would increase transparency and help lawmakers ensure the rules are consistent with congressional intent. “Additional scrutiny by elected officials is a good thing,” says NAR President William E. Brown. “And it gives us another chance to weigh in with Congress when it’s looking at these big-ticket rules.”

The House was also considering another bill that NAR sees merit in, the Regulatory Accountability Act. It would require agencies to achieve their objectives at the least cost and to say how their rules would impact small businesses, among other things.

Both bills largely apply prospectively, NAR analysts say, although the REINS Act includes an amendment that would direct agencies to identify a rule for repeal to offset annual costs any time a rule is proposed. NAR analyst say more information is needed on how such a provision would work in practice.

In addition, the administration of Donald Trump could take a fresh look at existing regulations across the board, and that could result in new rulemaking to change provisions that are hurting real estate, including provisions in the Dodd-Frank financial services reform law enacted in 2010 in response to the financial crisis.

NAR analysts say the association might favor easing some Dodd-Frank requirements on community banks, which traditionally provide the bulk of financing for housing construction. Housing starts have been far below what’s needed to meet rising demand, and easing some requirements on community banks could lead to more robust construction lending.

“Anything we can do to make it easier for local banks to allow builders to obtain loans to build homes that our members can sell is good,” Brown says. More houses would also help bring supply and demand into closer balance, slowing rising home prices.

Health Insurance Reform

With the debate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act beginning, NAR is prepared to represent the interests of REALTORS® and real estate companies just as it did when health care reform was debated a decade ago, says Brown.

NAR analysts have been monitoring what lawmakers are discussing with an eye to ensuring independent contractors and small businesses retain access to quality policies at reasonable costs. The lion’s share of NAR members buy their insurance in the individual market, which historically tends to be more volatile and expensive than the group market.

NAR would also like to see certain aspects of existing law that benefit REALTORS® remain in any replacement law. These include not letting insurers deny coverage to people who have a preexisting condition, preventing insurers from charging markedly different premiums based on factors such as age, gender, and health status, and allowing people to keep their children on their plans up to age 26.

“We will weigh in at the appropriate time and with the appropriate committees as the process is unfolding,” says Brown. “We are not at the center of this debate, but we will weigh in as needed to help ensure independent contractors and small businesses have access to health insurance that meets their needs.”

Tax Reform

Once health care reform is resolved, the new Congress is expected to take up tax reform. NAR’s priority is to preserve longstanding tax incentives for home ownership and real estate investment, including the mortgage interest deduction and property tax deductions. On the commercial side, preserving 1031 like-kind exchanges is paramount.  

NAR has made it clear to lawmakers it will resist efforts to eliminate or curtail MID, and it has come out against proposals that have been circulating in Washington for several years that would effectively eliminate the incentive value of the deduction for most home owners by raising the standard deduction.    

NAR analysts call proposals to cut most itemized deductions, including for property and other state and local taxes, and doubling or tripling the standard deduction a back-door attack on MID because it would eliminate the incentive for most people to itemize. “It blurs the distinction between renting and owning, and that goes against the commitment the federal government made more than 100 years ago to support homeownership,” says Brown.

NAR estimates that only the wealthiest 5 percent of households would continue to itemize under some of the proposed changes, while currently the bulk of households that take advantage of MID and property tax deductions are middle class.

On the commercial side, NAR is letting lawmakers know that proposals to curb 1031 exchanges will also meet with strong resistance, because the tax deferral mechanism is one of the main drivers of commercial real estate development today. “If that goes away, commercial real estate will be decimated,” Brown says. “That’s something we’re being very clear about with Congress. This provision is to commercial real estate what MID is for residential real estate. We will fall on our sword for this.”

Flood Insurance

Another pressing priority for NAR in the coming months will be getting the National Flood Insurance Program reauthorized before it expires at the end of September. The last time the program was up for renewal, in 2008, Congress took four years to reauthorize the program under the Biggert-Waters Act. Up until that point, the program was extended 18 times and allowed to shut down twice, which created uncertainty in the real estate industry.  

NAR is seeking another long-term reauthorization combined with additional reforms to increase the accuracy of flood mapping, provide financial assistance for more homeowners to mitigate their risk before a flood occurs, and develop a more robust private insurance market.

Although the program is vital to real estate, reauthorization requires an ongoing education effort because many lawmakers believe flooding is more a regional than a national problem. “What many don’t realize is flooding can happen anywhere and we all live in a flood zone to some degree. In fact, flood disasters have been presidentially declared across much of the Midwest over the last 6 months and just about everywhere else over the last 10 years,” says Brown.

The last time the program was allowed to shut down, 30,000 home-sale transactions came to a halt each month, with devastating consequences for the households and the local economies. Flood insurance is required for a mortgage in more than 22,000 communities around the country. NAR is prepared to push for a temporary extension to keep the program open well before the program expires if reauthorization risks getting crowded out in the fall.

Secondary Mortgage Market Reform

Since the financial crisis, government officials have wrestled with what to do about the two secondary mortgage market companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They’re integral to home sales because they give lenders a market in which to sell their conventional loans so they can maintain liquidity for new lending.

The companies have been in federal conservatorship since 2010, and although they’re making money again and have even paid back to the Treasury the assistance they received in the wake of the financial crisis, many lawmakers want to keep reform high on the agenda.

NAR has forcefully advocated for years that, whether or not the companies are replaced, there must continue to be a mechanism for lenders to sell safely underwritten, federally backed conventional loans to investors. Not to have that would almost surely spell the end of the 30-year, fixed-rate loans that are at the heart of the country’s successful home sales market, Brown says. “Borrowers’ ability to access safe, affordable, long-term, fixed-rate financing depends on the federal guarantee,” he says.

NAR analysts don’t expect secondary mortgage market reform to be taken up before the fall. “There’s a lot going on, and as long as the companies are doing well, the urgency to deal with them won’t be as high as other priorities,” Brown says. “But it remains important to settle their status once and for all.”

Brown says the work of the reform-minded 115th Congress can have enormous repercussions on how much real estate is bought and sold for years to come, so vigilance will be the watchword for 2017, particularly in the early months. “There are going to be a lot of balls in the air,” he says. “We have to be ready. We will be ready.”

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Get Ready For Tax Reform

AE | Store | Directories

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FHA Suspends Mortgage Insurance Premium Reduction

By Megan Booth, Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

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NAR Comments on NFIP Reform Principles

By Austin Perez, Ken Wingert, Russell Riggs

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Tax Reform Must Protect Homeownership

Published in The Hill

The 115th Congress is gearing up for an intense legislative session, and tax reform is set to play a starring role.

That’s good.

America’s tax system deserves an overhaul, with an eye toward ensuring individual tax rates are as low as possible while still providing for balanced fiscal policy.

Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have done tremendous work to get us there, and we’re hopeful this conversation continues.

For the roughly 75 million home-owning families across the country, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Important tax incentives for homeownership and real estate investment like the mortgage interest deduction, state and local property tax deduction, and 1031 like-kind exchange are critical. They’re key to protecting home values, supporting investment and helping new buyers enter the market.

Here’s why:

First, American homeowners already pay between 80 and 90 percent of all federal income taxes. Without the MID, that figure could rise to 95 percent. It’s particularly troubling considering the fact that more than half of families who claim the MID earn less than $100,000 per year.

The state and local property tax deduction is essential to homeowners as well. Current homeowners know that paying property taxes is a part of owning a home, but they also know those payments to state and local governments can be deducted from their federal income tax.

Without that deduction, homeowners would get taxed on the income used to pay their property taxes. This is a form of “double taxation” that hits home for lower and middle-income households.

The value of these tax incentives is already baked into home prices, meaning there’s a very real likelihood that eliminating those benefits could cause home values to plummet.

Many metro areas have experienced a significant rise in equity since the Great Recession, but others struggle to regain their pre-housing crash value. A steep drop in home prices, even temporarily, could put millions of homeowners underwater again on their mortgages. That pulls the rug out from under homeowners who built budgets or long-term retirement plans around the current rules.

But outright elimination of these incentives isn’t the only threat to homeownership. Proposals to double the standard deduction, as the House of Representatives has put forward, would effectively negate the importance of these tax provisions for all but the most affluent taxpayers.

That’s a huge step in the wrong direction.

For over a century, America has incentivized homeownership through the tax code, and for good reason.  Purchasing a home is a way for families to put down roots and invest in their communities. It’s also an important part of economic growth, with housing accounting for 16 percent — or $2.9 trillion — of the Gross Domestic Product.

Homeownership is a key driver of wealth accumulation for millions of families, with the median net worth for homeowners standing at $200,000 versus just over $5,000 for renters.

For most homeowners, their home is their single largest asset. Homeownership is also a way to protect families against inflation and rising costs for housing, because while rents may rise, a fixed-rate mortgage remains the same month after month.

Like any investment, purchasing a home comes with some level of risk. Most homebuyers put up a significant down payment just to get in the door, with the first few years of mortgage payments comprised primarily of interest on the loan.

The MID and other tax incentives help alleviate that burden, making homeownership a viable option for those of modest means.

That’s how younger homeowners are able to grow their net wealth protect their income, “roll up” to a larger home when they have a family or grow a nest egg for retirement.

We know there’s a lot on the line for real estate investors as well. The 1031 exchange is a critical tax provision that allows investors to trade a business or investment asset for a similar property, deferring any tax until the investment is “cashed out.”

The result is that rather than simply selling a property and taking gains, investors have an incentive to reinvest those funds back into the business and the neighborhood. That’s good for the recipient as well as the community, but the tax incentive is on the chopping block as Congress considers reform.

Those incentives must be preserved.

Of course, tax reform ought to be proactive. Congress should look to reinstate tax relief for mortgage debt cancellation, so homeowners going through a short sale aren’t taxed on the “phantom income” their forgiven debt represents. And, as home prices rise, Congress should also index the capital gains exclusion for home sales to account for inflation and preserve the benefit for future homeowners.

The reality is that whether you rent, buy or invest, everyone is counting on a tax proposal that moves the economy forward. Protecting tax incentives for homeownership and real estate investment is key to that success.

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