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Brokers Help Raise Our Voice, Posted by Vicki

There is no doubt that this year has been important for real estate and our economy on many different levels. What matters most to REALTORS® is how changes in the industry and government policy affect our clients, customers and our businesses.

One of my greatest concerns as an NAR leader is that members feel helpless; that they do not have a voice in the changes that are happening in the industry; that too many of us have spent our entire careers building something that may not survive the current downturn.

As the largest trade association in the world, yes, NAR’s voice on Capitol Hill is very important when it comes to resolving the issues facing the economy. Fortunately, members of Congress and regulators are seeking our input to solutions to this housing crisis.

Consider how much influence we have now, imagine what would happen if more of our members responded to NAR’s “Calls for Action” when asked to do so.

The new Broker Involvement Program is designed to give the principal broker a quick tool to enlist your company’s agents in bring to Congress’ attention issues of concern to you and your business. The program provides agents a direct communication link to their lawmakers and in just seconds allows agents to express their opinions on those business issues with a personal letter that’s ready for them to sign and send.

We have discovered in the past year that when brokers alert their agents to key issues, agents listen and respond. In fact, since this program was initially launched, we have gone from just 30 brokers participating to now well over 1,000. Our goal this year is a 15 percent response rate, and with your help, I am certain we will achieve it.

If you are a broker and would like to join the effort – or, if you are an agent and would like your broker to participate – please contact Ed Lawler at elawler@realtors.org. Your involvement in this important program will strengthen our REALTOR® influence in determining outcomes of legislation that is important to our industry.

Please don’t sit back and see what happens. You DO have the influence to shape our industry and your business. –Vicki Cox Golder, 2009 President-Elect

Comments
  1. While I don’t envy the task before NAR leadership during these challenging times, I do feel it’s necessary to point out that leadership should consider the possibility that the lack of response to calls for action could be because not everyone is in agreement with the proposals hatched by just a few people which affect all of our ability to conduct our business. For example, the recent plan to monetize the tax credit is an embarrasment and exposes the lack of understanding of fundamental FHA elements. Why in the world would a first-time buyer forfeit a whopping $8,000 tax refund which could be used to pay off the balance on an auto or car payment, payments which can be several hundred dollars per month, to save a mere $40 in mortgage payment? Further, FHA currently permits sellers to pay buyers’ closing costs, so why would a buyer forfeit their future tax refund for closing costs – or even points with today’s low rates? Which, by the way, a seller can also pay for. I see this move by HUD, encouraged by NAR and implemented without the need for Congressional approval or a call to action as a back-door way for the lenders to swindle the kids out of their tax refunds and I have shared this with my staff. Furthermore, this move and the corresponding media coverage has served to confuse the kids and bring a cloud of suspicion over the most powerful tool we have right now – the $8,000 tax credit. Just when the news stopped telling the kids to “beware” of the $7,500 credit because it was a “loan”, we now have a whole new catalog of news releases telling them to “beware” of this version! We got rid of the other one because it was a “loan” and now we encourage them to TAKE OUT a loan. Unbelievable.

  2. Linda Goold

    Dear Sue:
    Thank you for expressing your perspectives on the first-time homebuyer credit and the FHA’s efforts to provide ready access to it. From the time the tax credit concept came into play in 2008, efforts were made to find ways to get its value to consumers so that they could have the financial benefit at settlement. Congress was unable to craft a program that didn’t require the IRS to be a partner at settlement. Both NAR and the IRS thought it would be undesirable to make closings on purchases contingent on IRS pre-approval. Throughout that process, many NAR members were sharply critical of the absence of a method of monetizing the credit.
    I won’t respond on a point by point basis to your comments, except to note that in today’s environment of short sales and falling prices, many sellers are either unwilling or unable to pay closing costs. In addition, some sources of seller-assisted financing are no longer available, so there were needs in the marketplace that weren’t being met. This is the reason that several state housing agencies stepped in to devise programs to assist prospective purchasers.
    NAR staff members who handle FHA and tax issues continue to receive daily requests for assistance from REALTORS® trying to help consumers tap into their tax credit benefits in states that do not have state agency programs. To date, 11 states have devised programs that resemble bridge loans. A few states have developed outright grant programs. Some states would like to have programs, but do not have adequate funding available or need legislative approval. We are also aware of some city and county governments trying to devise programs. Thus, we know for certain that there is a need in the marketplace that requires creative solutions for a lot of people.
    We’re pleased that you shared your views with us. Constructive challenges to new ideas are always a helpful reference point for us and help us as we go forward.
    Linda Goold
    Tax Counsel
    National Association of REALTORS®

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