By Gary Thomas, 2011 First Vice President, National Association of REALTORS®
Just yesterday I attended the Home Ownership Matters bus tour stop in Las Vegas.
It was heartening to see Nevadans’ excitement, including REALTORS®, as the bus rolled into town in the city that has suffered the most over the past several years – a foreclosure rate five times the national average and the highest unemployment in the country. Needless to say, it has hurt our REALTORS® there as well. At two different stops multiple media outlets, as well as civic, state, and local association speakers, and of course REALTORS® and consumers, made for a great turnout to support home ownership. Take a look at this recap from Las Vegas’ 8NewsNow online.
We weren’t the only ones in town to show support for home ownership. President Obama was in Las Vegas this week too to unveil the revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP. We’re glad the Administration is taking steps to address housing by helping home owners who are underwater but current on their payments to refinance into mortgages with lower rates through the enhanced program.
Finally, people, including the President, are listening to what we’ve been saying all along: Housing needs help and we have solutions. Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chairman, is now saying, “We can’t ignore housing anymore.”
More must be done though.
Our country needs housing policies that ensure a robust recovery and do not further weaken the nation’s housing market, like the five-point plan that came out of the bipartisan New Solutions for America’s Housing Crisis forum which NAR endorsed. Specifically it calls for:
- revising high down payment requirements of the proposed Qualified Residential Mortgage rule;
- restoring higher mortgage loan limits supported by the Federal Housing Administration and the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs);
- and preserving the mortgage interest deduction.
Also yesterday, President Ron Phipps embarked on a 26-stop satellite media tour – blanketing television news programs across the country, including Las Vegas, with the message that home ownership matters to people, communities, and the country.
We’re working hard for REALTORS®, to ensure that more does get done for home ownership in this country. For today, though, I was gratified to see hope, laughter, and smiles in a city where they’re needed most.