Realtors® Continue Push for Comprehensive Housing Strategy

While the National Association of Realtors® is pleased that Congress and the incoming Obama administration are working to ensure that any additional Troubled Asset Relief Program initiatives or economic stimulus package include provisions to stimulate home sales, prevent foreclosures and restore confidence in the housing market, NAR will continue its push for a comprehensive housing strategy.

“The housing sector is at the core of the current economic crisis,” NAR President Charles McMillan said. “A renewed, revitalized and robust housing market is essential to generating commerce and helping families build wealth and stability. We are eager to see this happen and look forward to working with the Obama administration and Congress to quickly implement housing stimulus efforts.”

NAR expressed support for Chairman Barney Frank’s, D-Mass., proposal, H.R. 384, the TARP Reform and Accountability Act, introduced last week. This bill contains key components of NAR’s Housing Stimulus Plan, including enacting a mortgage buy-down program to reduce interest rates below prevailing rates, increasing foreclosure prevention and mitigation efforts, and providing needed liquidity to the residential and commercial mortgage markets to ensure that financing is available. “We also applaud the chairman’s efforts to strengthen accountability and increase transparency in the use of TARP funds,” McMillan said.

NAR has pushed to refocus the TARP to end the credit crisis and jumpstart mortgage lending. “It is imperative to get TARP back on track by targeting funds for mortgage relief, which will help lower mortgage rates and reduce foreclosures,” said McMillan.

Even if H.R. 384 is not enacted, it will provide the Obama administration with a clear statement of congressional intent as Congress moves forward to implement the second half of the TARP. NAR has and will continue to advocate NAR’s positions to the new administration and regulatory agencies.

Realtors® pledged to work with Congress and the administration to pass an economic stimulus plan that is expected to include many components championed by NAR to improve housing. “We are pleased that eliminating the repayment feature of the first-time home buyer $7,500 tax credit will be addressed in this proposal. However, we still are working to have the credit expanded to all home buyers, and to extend the program through December 31, 2009. NAR is also working to ensure that any stimulus legislation reinstates the higher 2008 mortgage loan limits for FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These actions will have a meaningful impact on the housing market and will help protect home values,” McMillan said.

NAR’s Housing Stimulus Plan includes both legislative and regulatory fixes. Its focus includes keeping mortgage interest rates low, boosting home buyer confidence, and reducing the current foreclosure rate. It also asks that regulators be encouraged to help financial institutions resolve problems in the short-sale process, make it easier for servicers to modify existing loans, remove unreasonable underwriting guidelines and insist that credit reporting agencies correct errors promptly.

“We must all work together to stimulate and unclog the housing and financial system. Low interest rates, tax credits and higher loan limits will be effective only if people can get a loan. We hear every day from our members that even home buyers with good credit are having trouble getting mortgage loans. This must be corrected,” said McMillan.
NAR expressed hope that the new administration will keeps its focus on a housing recovery as it moves forward with a larger stimulus package.

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.

Washington, January 16, 2009