YOU DID IT! Late last week Congress finally acted on one of your key legislative priorities, a five-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Even better news, we just received word that the president is expected to sign it into law tomorrow, Friday, July 6, 2012.
All the D.C. pundits said nothing would be accomplished in an election year! You just proved them wrong because you didn’t give up, and now you have the victory to confirm it!
The reason I’m writing this today is to reinforce the commitment of your National Association to you and every other member who expects us to persevere on issues of importance to our members and your clients – the consumers, homeowners, and potential home owners of the future.
NAR, with your help and influence, stayed the course to give lenders and home owners more certainty in the mortgage and real estate market place with available flood insurance for existing home owners and those buying and selling.
This has been a long, arduous battle. The National Flood Insurance Program suffered through over 18 short-term extensions and hobbled along for the last four years without a long-term reauthorization forthcoming from D.C.
It was your charge to us not to give up, not to accept anything less than a long-term reauthorization of the Flood Insurance Program. So, we battled to get every inch along those short-term extensions until now when a full five-year reauthorization has been approved.
This fight traveled over several administrations and more than a few presidents of NAR. I’m proud to represent them and the management team in this victory for you.
But, while I’m proud of my predecessors in leadership, and equally as proud of the most effective management team both in Chicago and D.C., I am especially proud of you!
When called upon to respond to our Calls to Action, you did. When asked to invest in your business, you have. And, when asked to step up and participate you resoundingly did that, too.
New battles lay ahead. There will be no easy victories. Now more than ever, it is our responsibility to be steadfast protectors of the American Dream of home ownership. If not us who? If not now when? So, when we call on you like we did to rally, when we call on you like we do to respond to the calls for action, please; continue to show your commitment.
God bless you all. You are what this country is all about! Rally on REALTOR® Party!
You truly are the heart of the deal… many thanks.
More at REALTOR.org: Congress Reauthorizes Flood Insurance for 5 Years
NAR President Moe Veissi told a panel of U.S. senators yesterday that the last thing the housing market needs right now is another reason for lenders to decline your client’s mortgage loan application.
“Tight lending standards remain a problem,” he told the members of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee subcommittee on economic policy, “and we don’t want to give a lender another excuse not to approve a loan.”
The Senate panel was looking at long-term reauthorization and reform of the National Flood Insurance Program. NAR supports reauthorizing federal flood insurance for five years and making reforms that would strengthen the program. As it stands, the program is set to expire at the end of this month, and REALTORS®, when they’re in Washington next week for the Rally to Protect the American Dream and the NAR Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, will make the program reauthorization an advocacy priority. Members will be meeting with members of Congress from their state in their annual Hill visits.
Many lawmakers on a bipartisan basis support reauthorization, but extending the program is always a challenge. Congress in the past several years has reauthorized the program in short-term increments, and a couple of times it allowed the program to lapse for a short period. Those lapses, as short as they were, have been very hard on the market. Thousands of transactions couldn’t close—and that’s what President Veissi means when he talks about giving lenders another reason to say no.
And the problem isn’t a coastal issue. As President Veissi says in his testimony, which you can see in the the 3-minute video above, flood plains are everywhere, so the absence of insurance is a nationwide problem.
The U.S. House and Senate yesterday restored FHA loan limits to the level they were at before they were allowed to expire at the end of September. As a result, the limits will rise to 125 percent of the area median home price from 115 Percent, up to a maximum $729,750, from $625,500. NAR estimates that several hundred counties where FHA loan limits fell at the end of September will now rise back up to the previous level.
“The reinstated loan limits will help provide much needed liquidity and stability to communities nationwide as tight credit restrictions continue to prevent some qualified buyers from becoming home owners and the housing market recovery remains fragile,” said NAR President Moe Veissi in a statement released last night.
President Obama is expected to sign the legislation shortly. The restored loan limits are in a broad-based bill that includes funding for a wide variety of federal operations and programs.
The maximum conforming loan limits for secondary mortgage market companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also expired at the end of September, but lawmakers did not include a restoration of those limits in the bill. As a result, conforming loan limits will remain at 115 percent of the area median home price, up to $625,500.
Once President Obama signs the bill, the limits will go into effect. FHA will release a mortgagee letter to its approved lenders shortly. The mortgagee letter will contain a list that’s been updated to reflect the new limits. NAR analysts say it will take the agency a short period to update its database and release the mortgagee letter, maybe a couple of weeks.
The funding bill also extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until December 16 to allow lawmakers time to consider long-term authorization of that program, which is an NAR priority.
By Robert Freedman, senior editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Flood insurance is commonly thought of as a coastal issue but flood plains are located throughout the country and in fact, in some Midwestern states, almost 10 percent of homes are in flood plain zones.
For that reason, it’s not just a coastal issue if the National Flood Insurance Program expires at the end of September, which is when the federal fiscal year ends.
NAR has been talking with lawmakers and their staffs about renewing the program (there’s a bill that would renew it for five years and make NAR-supported reforms), because if the federal government stops issuing the insurance, purchases of homes in flood plains can’t close.
Whats the potential universe of impacted properties? NAR estimates the number at more than 1,300 a day.
Most of those are in the South, but almost half are in the other three regions: Midwest, Northeast, and West.
Selma Hepp of NAR Research talks about how she derived the number and how that 1,300-a-day figure breaks out regionally in the 3-minute video above.