Action on the Foreclosure Front

Our first goal must be to help people keep their homes. But, if a sale can't be avoided, we must help owners sell as quickly and smoothly as possible.

June 1, 2009

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is deeply committed to getting housing back on track. Our goal is not only to fix today’s problems but also to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself.

This mission was the guiding principle of NAR’s Real Estate Summit in Washington, D.C., on May 12. More than a dozen of the country’s best minds in real estate and finance came together to discuss how to bring stability to the market—for today and tomorrow. (To read about the great ideas and innovative insights that emerged, visit REALTOR® Magazine's Speaking of Real Estate blog.)

Meanwhile, the economic roller coaster continues. The daily volley of good news and bad news is enough to make your head spin. One thing you can be certain of is that NAR is working daily on your behalf, and we believe that work starts with addressing the foreclosure crisis.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of home sales today—between 45 percent and 50 percent—are in the distressed category. We all recognize the need to get these distressed properties off the books and get back to healthy, sustainable markets.

As REALTORS®, our first goal must be to help people keep their homes. But, if a sale can’t be avoided, we must help owners sell as quickly and smoothly as possible. To accomplish these goals, we need to educate ourselves on the resources and options available to home owners.

That’s why NAR recently launched the Foreclosure Prevention and Response Program, which provides grants to state and local REALTOR® associations for any number of initiatives, from providing foreclosure training to creating an action plan for helping troubled borrowers.

At you’ll find a terrific collection of educational opportunities and best practices. In Colorado, for example, REALTORS® have teamed up with lenders and local and state agencies to help Colorado residents find alternatives to foreclosure.

Federal help is also needed. One of the issues we believe Congress must address is the emergence of foreclosure rescue scams and lending practices that prey on home owners when they’re already financially vulnerable.

At a hearing before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity in May, NAR gave recommendations for helping prevent foreclosure rescue scams and for protecting consumers. The recommendations include enacting H.R. 1231, the Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Act of 2009.

The bill would create minimum standards for disclosure and terms of service for individuals or firms offering their services as foreclosure consultants to distressed home owners. We’ve also asked Congress to direct lenders and servicers to be more aggressive in helping home owners at risk of foreclosure.

Once we’re beyond this crisis, we need to have a mortgage system in place that safeguards consumers and assures access to mortgages at a reasonable cost. Wholesale reform of the mortgage lending sector will remove the last impediment to a housing recovery.

Charles McMillan

Charles McMillan was 2009 president of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.