NEAR Members & Thousands of Realtors® Visit Washington DC to Advocate for Homeownership
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Posted by: Maria Brogan
On behalf of current and future home and property owners throughout the country, more than 9,600 Realtors® traveled to Washington, DC, this past week to advance key real estate issues during the 2017 REALTOR® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.
NEAR President Will Molina of Coco, Early & Associates in Bradford, MA joined fellow Realtors® from Massachusetts and across the nation to attend meetings and informational sessions, as well as meet with regulatory agency staff and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss and advocate real estate issues affecting their businesses, communities and clients.
Attending Realtors®, members of the National Association of Realtors®, focused on several significant issues affecting the industry during the legislative-focused meetings, including flood insurance, tax reform and sustainable homeownership.
“Realtors® are critical advocates for the real estate industry and for their clients, and this meeting is the perfect opportunity to educate ourselves on the issues facing real estate markets, as well as the legislative and regulatory issues on the horizon that could affect Realtors®, home buyers and sellers, and property owners,” said Molina.
While in Washington, Molina and other NEAR members and association staff met with Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Congresswoman Elizabeth Warren, as well as staff for Congressman Seth Moulton on Capitol Hill to discuss and influence public policy decisions that directly affect consumers’ ability to own, buy, rent and sell residential and commercial real estate.
“As the leading advocates for real estate, it is important for Realtors® to meet face to face with our nation’s representatives to make sure homeownership and commercial real estate remains top of mind, since these help to shape our communities and play crucial roles in the economic health of America,” said Molina.
When speaking with Congresswoman Tsongas, one of the main issues discussed was the urgent need to pass a multiyear reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program before it expires on September 30. Additionally, Realtors® urged the protection of sustainable homeownership by advocating for responsible reform of the secondary mortgage market, prohibiting the use of guarantee fees for any purposes other than credit-risk management, improving consumer protections for energy-efficiency improvement loans and tax reform.
“With tax reform currently being discussed by the administration and legislators, it is important for regulators to hear from Realtors® that while tax reform is necessary, it cannot come at the expense of real estate tax provisions, such as the mortgage interest deduction, which are essential to the housing market and a key driver of the economy,” said Molina.
During the meetings, Molina and other attendees also heard from industry experts and leaders, including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, who spoke about the challenges facing potential homebuyers, including low home inventories and tight mortgage credit. During the meeting, Carson confirmed that HUD is in “lock-step” with Realtors® about an NAR-backed rule that would make it easier for consumers to buy a condominium with Federal Housing Administration backed financing, which has been pending since September 2016. Carson agreed that this rule would “make a big difference to a lot of Americans.”
In addition, attendees heard from Fox News’ Chris Wallace and CNBC’s Ron Insana, who shared their insights on the administration’s agenda and other legislative and regulatory happenings in Washington; Mark Calabria, chief economist to Vice President Mike Pence, who said reversing weak productivity and the low labor force participation rate are necessary to boosting the economy; John Worth, senior vice president for Research and Investor Outreach, National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, who shared his perspectives on commercial market activity; Roy Wright, deputy associate administrator for Insurance and Mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Administration, who said that challenges remain in ensuring access to affordable flood insurance and a multi-year reauthorization of the NFIP is critical; and NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, who shared residential and commercial real estate market updates and forecasts for the remainder of 2017.
During the week, Realtors® also participated in a series of on-site visits with regulatory agency staff at the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In addition to the informational legislative sessions and meetings with legislators, Molina had the opportunity to explore the latest industry innovations and receive up-to-date information on the newest products and services from more than 100 industry-leading companies that participated during the trade expo.