Sen. Capito: REALTORS® Help Lawmakers Understand Issues

May 12, 2015

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., in an interview with NAR’s news video program, The Voice for Real Estate, says she’s looking forward to meeting with REALTORS® this week because she relies on them to get a good look at how federal laws and regulations impact real estate markets in her state and around the country.

“There’s no better way for us as lawmakers to understand the issues REALTORS® face every day, and that homeowners face every day, than to meet about them face-to-face with REALTORS® in our offices,” she says.

Capito spoke with Stephen Gasque, NAR director of broadcasting and the host of The Voice for Real Estate, in the Russell Senate office building on Capitol Hill. The interview comes on the heels of the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo this week, where NAR members from all over the country meet in Washington, D.C. to take an active role to advance the real estate industry, public policy and the association through special issues forums, committee meetings, and legislative activities.

“REALTORS® across the country are the people we sit on the bleachers with and we go to the grocery store with,” she says, “and they’re the small business people that are very much attuned to the community. “

One of the biggest strengths of REALTORS® is their ability to explain in simplified terms how Washington actions impact communities, often unintentionally. “A lot of what we make decisions on, whether it’s ensuring the availability of home mortgage financing or financing multifamily housing—all of these things are complicated,” she says. “There’s no better way to move through the complexity than to have REALTORS® boil it down for us in a very simple way. And that will influence what kind of legislation we do, how we fight back against certain rules, and what kind of impact the legislation we’ve already passed is having right now.”

Capito says this year it is especially important to have REALTORS® in Washington due to all the rules affecting real estate that have been issued since the downturn. These include the qualified mortgage rule, which sets ability-to-repay standards that lenders must follow if their loans are to meet conventional mortgage standards. “I’m very concerned that a lot of the regulations that have come forward over the last several years, post 2008, will contract the ability of home buyers to get into the market,” she says.

Among the issues REALTORS® will be meeting with their members of Congress about this week are making sure rules don’t restrict consumers’ choices in selecting lenders. The NAR-backed Mortgage Choice Act would require the federal government to treat all lenders the same in meeting a 3-percent cap on points and fees; right now, federal financial regulators want to apply the cap one way with some lenders and another way with other lenders, and NAR argues that’s unfair to consumers.

“This is going to be a big year,” Capito says. “We know that buying houses and moving to the next house are important drivers in our economy, so we want those statistics to be good,” she says. “And in order for that to happen, we have to make sure the rules that have been coming out won’t hurt real estate markets and consumers.”

Capito’s interview is excerpted in The May 11 Voice for Real Estate video, which also looks at legislation introduced in the Senate that would get tough on patent trolls and changes to the closing process that start August 1.