Capitol Hill Update: NAR’s 2016 Political Advocacy Efforts

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) works diligently on a legislative and regulatory agenda that encourages a sound and robust U.S. real estate market and protects the business interests of consumers as well as REALTORS®. In 2016, significant accomplishments included:

New FHA Condo Policies Signed into Law; Rural Housing Service Loans Streamlined
Following intense efforts, including a Call for Action that generated nearly 280,000 letters to the Senate and thousands of Capitol Hill visits, “The Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act” (H.R. 3700) unanimously passed the House of Representatives and Senate and was signed into law. For more than a decade, NAR and REALTORS® pressured Congress to pass legislation that makes Federal Housing Administration (FHA) financing for condominiums more accessible and streamlines the Rural Housing Service (RHS) loan process.

NAR’s efforts were aimed at educating Congress on the critical role condominiums and RHS loans play in the housing market, which required letters, meetings, newspaper advertisements, and spearheading industry coalitions. While H.R. 3700 has now been signed into law, NAR continues to work closely with FHA and RHS to ensure its provisions are implemented in a timely manner.

CFPB Clarifies Lenders’ Ability to Share Closing Disclosure in Proposed Rule
Following months of intense outreach by NAR through letters and in-person meetings, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced its intention to issue additional written guidance on the “Know Before You Owe” (TRID) rule.

Since implementation in 2015, NAR has argued that additional written guidance is needed to help the industry understand the rule, including clarification that lenders may share the Closing Disclosure (CD) with real estate agents involved in the transaction. NAR’s success was evident in the CFPB’s new proposed “Know Before You Owe” rule, which included language stating that an existing exception within the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) Regulation P allows lenders to share the CD with third parties. The final rule is expected in spring 2017.

House Passes Private Market Flood Insurance Legislation
NAR has been actively educating Congress on the importance of affordable flood insurance for homeowners. Following letters and in-person meetings, the House of Representatives passed “The Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act” (H.R. 2901) by an overwhelming bipartisan vote. This legislation encourages the development of a private market that offers comparable flood insurance coverage at a lower cost than the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Discussions with the Senate continue.

Additionally, NAR testified before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on the impacts of inaccurate flood insurance rate increases to small businesses. With the NFIP set to expire in 2017, NAR will continue to work with the current and incoming Congress on reauthorization and reform of the program.

FHA Revises Single-Family Handbook Appraisal Requirements
After NAR raised strong concerns about language in the FHA Handbook requiring appraisers to take on home inspection duties, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) deleted the language from the Handbook that an appraiser “must operate all conveyed appliances and observe their performance,” and replaced it with “must note all appliances that remain and contribute to the market value.” FHA also provided a clear definition of which items are considered “appliances” for the purpose of an FHA appraisal.

Other Initiatives
In addition to these major accomplishments, NAR’s political advocacy efforts in 2016 and beyond include:

  • Approved use of drones for real estate without a Section 333 waiver;
  • Efforts to increase the range of credit scoring models used by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other industry lenders;
  • Actively engaging with Congress and the Administration to address the impact of student debt on homeownership and the overall economy; and
  • Spearheading a coalition of 24 consumer and industry groups to raise concerns over double-charging consumers for assumed credit losses and capital levels that are already covered by existing GSE fees and private mortgage insurance coverage.

For more information on NAR’s advocacy initiatives, visit realtor.org/political-advocacy.

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