In the classic movie, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart’s character is appointed to fill a U.S. Senate seat and when faced with the reality of politics, he doesn’t back down.
Well, I may not be serving in Congress, but as your NAR President, my job is to represent you on critical issues. No matter how tough the challenge, you can count on me not to back down.
I just returned home to Texas after a full week in Washington, D.C., where I continued to press regulators on a few vital issues.
Last Wednesday, I met with FHA Commissioner Dave Stevens (a former REALTOR®) to discuss implementation of components of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. We asked that FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, adopt a consistent frequently asked questions document to address implementation concerns and codify that document with existing appraisal policy.
Commissioner Stevens agreed that requiring two appraisals in declining markets adds little benefit to underwriting and likely increases the cost of the transaction to the consumer. He also directed staff to work with the GSEs and New York Attorney General on our FAQ idea.
On Friday morning, I had a chance to meet with Freddie Mac’s new CEO Ed Haldeman, and HVCC was also on our agenda. Mr. Haldman agreed to work with FHA, Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Finance Agency on a common set of FAQ’s. In fact, he promised that he would get back to me within two weeks with a status report.
The meeting with Freddie Mac was a great opportunity to talk about a few other hot issues.
Specifically, I thanked Freddie for coming out with guidelines that do not allow servicers to reduce commissions on short sales deals.
Mr. Haldeman also said that Freddie is willing to give waivers on their condo guidelines and he said they will be more vigilant in communicating with lenders on this issue.
We also learned that the Treasury Department and GSEs are working on guidelines related to short sales and the making Home Affordable program. We expect to see them in the next 30 days. Mr. Haldeman also agreed to emphasize the importance of short sales over foreclosures in discussions with the Treasury.
In Washington, D.C., progress can often be slow, but I am confident that the REALTOR® voice is the leading voice on policies that will define the future of our industry and our business. I urge you to get involved. Together, we can end 2009 on a high note, United Toward Tomorrow. – Charles McMillan, 2009 NAR President