Improving the availability of condo financing will be a priority when thousands of REALTORS® are in Washington this week for the 2016 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. Overly restrictive rules on condo board certification, owner-occupancy, and commercial space make it hard for households to obtain loans to buy a condo even though condos are integral to first-time and other home buyers.
Other priorities among members of the National Association of REALTORS® include keeping loan guarantee fees at a reasonable level and ensuring income collected from the fees by the federal government is used for housing related matters and not for other areas of government. The guarantee fees, also known as g-fees, are collected by secondary mortgage market companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from lenders to help offset risks to the federal government for backing home loans. Efforts have been made in Congress to use the income from the fees for matters unrelated to housing, and REALTORS® oppose that.
These and other legislative priorities were discussed in a live town hall webcast last week hosted by NAR Government Affairs. You can get info on that town hall in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video. The video talks about the town hall and this week’s legislative meetings, which are slated to attract some 8,000 REALTORS® and guests to Washington. The REALTORS® will meet with their members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill and attend educational sessions, committee meetings, and the trade expo.
The news video also looks at flood insurance, another priority of REALTORS® while in Washington.
Thousands of communities are located within a flood zone, which means flood insurance is essential before buyers can obtain mortgage financing. Despite this, private flood insurance in many of these communities is nonexistent. That’s because the insurance can be expensive for companies to offer. As a result. the National Flood Insurance Program is often the only game in town.
But House lawmakers recently passed legislation to try to open the private market a bit by letting home owners leave the federal program and try a private program if one is available without taking a hit on their federal rate if they end up returning to the federal program. Right now, if they leave and come back, they lose their grandfathered status and face a big rate hike. That rate increase goes away under the legislation. NAR is asking the Senate to pass the bill, which passed the House 416-0.
The video also gives a recap of a scam alert released two weeks ago by NAR’s top lawyer, Katie Johnson. Johnson cautions real estate professionals about using email to send sensitive information because scammers have been exploiting email to get transaction information and directing unsuspecting consumers to wire closing funds to them.
And NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun released the association’s March home sales numbers, which are up more than 5 percent for the month, The association’s forward-looking pending sales numbers are up, too, suggesting solid sales will hold up as the spring selling season gets underway. Access The Voice for Real Estate.
Access the video.