By Bill Armstrong, Treasurer, National Association of REALTORS®
Last week, NAR participated in a positive meeting with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) —the federal agency in charge of housing finance oversight. We talked about additional ways to improve the short sales process for mortgages backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. I was pleased to participate and to represent NAR along with Scott Louser, 2012 Vice President and Liaison to Government Affairs.
All in all it was a great meeting, made even more so by the fact that we brought a number of REALTORS® with us so that officials at FHFA could hear directly from those in the trenches, about the difficulties they experience during a short sale. And bringing together the individuals facing those challenges day in and day out – REALTORS® – with those in charge of oversight, is the most effective way to convey the reality of the situation and the need for a solution.
Now, fortunately there has been some progress recently, such as the amendment Freddie Mac made to its policy on short sales affidavits, at the request of NAR and the American Land Title Association. We continue to push lenders to implement the updated policy.
But as we all know, short sales continue to be an issue for many REALTORS®. That’s why NAR is working hard with both the GSEs and regulators to find real, workable solutions that will simplify the process, and we won’t rest until that happens. FHFA has been open to discussion and were very interested in hearing directly from REALTORS®. So I am optimistic that changes will be made that will benefit REALTORS® during a short sale…and rest assured that we here at NAR will continue to push for them to happen.
Scott Louser, 2012 NAR Vice President and Liaison to Government Affairs and state legislator from North Dakota, talks about the value of having REALTORS® in public office and involved in public advocacy work.
NAR recently held its 2012 REALTOR Party Policy and Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC. The purpose was to give our members the opportunity to prioritize NAR’s policy agenda for the upcoming year. Our members listed their top public priorities for 2012 in five broad areas of serious concern: taxation, real estate finance, property insurance, appraisal and commercial issues.
During the conference we heard from many government and policy experts as well. To a person, they told us not to expect much legislative activity this coming year because our elected officials are focused on their own campaigns and the Presidential election. Once the election is over, however, we can expect a flurry of activity. In short, our best efforts over the next few months will be in tilling the soil on a number of critical real estate matters. We are going to be planting seeds in fallow ground over the next few months to reap a harvest of better housing and commercial real estate health later.
With Congress looking to expand the tax base to reduce the federal deficit, many of the exemptions that home ownership and real estate receive today could winnowed away. The tax issues that NAR will focus on are protecting the Mortgage Interest Deduction, extending Mortgage Debt Cancellation Relief for homeowners in trouble, preserving the capital gains exclusion on the sale of residences, and maintaining the property tax deduction for homeowners.
In real estate finance, the lack of available and affordable mortgage financing has been apparent for some time. Congress is considering a number of proposals aimed at creating healthier housing and mortgage markets. NAR priorities are the reform of Government Sponsored Enterprises credit policies and short sales. We believe that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be restructured in a way that ensures consumers a reliable source of mortgage funding in all types of markets, under all types of economic conditions. With regard to credit, we believe the lending community needs to focus on providing more reasonable mortgage financing to qualified consumers. And on short sales, NAR continues to push for a faster, more efficient process that will help reduce the inventory of foreclosed homes.
In the area of property insurance, NAR continues to seek a re-authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. NFIP has already been extended nine times in the last three years. A 5-year authorization would provide certainty and avoid further disruption of the real estate markets.
Appraisals are definitely on the minds of many REALTORS®. NAR strongly supports the independence of appraisers and the process and opposes the use of indemnification clauses by Appraisal Management Companies. Realtors throughout the country report serious problems with the current appraisal process.
Commercial Real Estate
Finally, the commercial real estate industry continues to face adverse conditions, with more than $1.2 million in commercial loans scheduled to come due in the next few years. NAR supports protecting and enhancing the flow of capital to commercial real estate. We believe that Congress should consider legislation aimed at improving commercial lending standards and practices.
While the year ahead is expected to see little legislative activity, when the issues that pertain to the health and vitality of the real estate market do finally break through today’s political ground, we’ll be ready. We are diligent caretakers of the ground that lies beneath all—NAR is and will be advocating policies that will result in a bountiful harvest for a recovering economy and an improving housing and commercial real estate industry.
By Chris Polychron, 2012First Vice President-Nominee, National Assocation of REALTORS®
Hello, my name is Chris Polychron, and I’m new to the Leadership Team,currently serving as the NAR 2012 First Vice President-Nominee. Manners are important in the South, so since I’m a native Arkansan, I’d like to introduce myself.
I was born in Arkansas, but I’m also first generation Greek. My father had a barbecue restaurant, and I think that’s where I first started to learn what it takes to run a small business.
I still love to cook, when I get a chance. I’ve been married to my wife Janis for 44 years. She’s a wonderful person, an artist who brings much-needed balance to my life. Together we have two daughters and three lively grandchildren.
Before becoming a REALTOR®, I used to be a banker. I took up real estate because I thought I’d be good at it. The man who I went to for my first job didn’t think so. But I kept after him. Finally I said, “Where’s my desk, because I’m coming to work here whether you like it or not.” It turns out that kind of perseverance was just the ticket. It’s something I’ve needed over and over again in my 24-year career as a REALTOR®.
Another skill REALTORS® need is the ability to multi-task. Sometimes we have so many irons in the fire, it’s a wonder the whole thing doesn’t blow up. But it helps to stay calm and focused, which is exactly like hunting quail—a sport I greatly enjoy. You have to keep your eye on the target.
The bulls-eye I am focused on is ensuring that Home Ownership Matters to consumers and to our communities. Because the American Dream of home ownership is under attack like never before from policies that make it harder to buy and keep a home. We are working to defend the American Dream by maintaining tax advantages for home ownership, like the mortgage interest deduction; protecting private property rights; and ensuring consumers have access to mortgage liquidity.
This takes leadership. To be a leader, you have to do everything you ask someone else to do, and then some. With that in mind, I’ll be working hard this year helping our President Moe Veissi accomplish his goals for NAR. I’ll also be traveling around the country visiting with REALTORS® and hearing what’s on your minds.
I admire many of NAR’s leaders, especially our past presidents. Each one has contributed in his or her own way. Dick Gaylord brought in young people. Richard Mendenhall started the REALTOR® Relief Foundation. Ron Phipps inspired us during difficult times. And Moe is just getting started in what I’m sure will be a great year.
With that, I hope to get to meet each one of you personally. Until then, I’m always glad to hear from you, so give me a call or e-mail me at email@example.com. Go Razorbacks!