Sweating the Details for You

This column gives me 10 chances during the year to communicate with you about what the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is doing on your behalf. This month I'd like to update you on three key issues: health insurance reform, loan modifications, and energy legislation.

September 1, 2009

Getting Health Insurance Right

The task of overhauling our nation's health insurance system is incredibly complex, but for many REALTORS®, it's long overdue. You've told us you want comprehensive, affordable, portable insurance, and we're listening. We're advocating for underwriting and rating rules for the individual and small-employer markets that cover guaranteed issue and guaranteed renewal and prohibit using health status and pre-existing conditions as underwriting criteria. It's widely expected that the House and Senate will vote on separate proposals in the fall. For updates, visit REALTOR.org/healthreform.

Making Progress on Loan Mods

For all of the positive news about home sales increasing, there's still a dark cloud holding back recovery—struggling home owners continue to be forced into foreclosure as a result of big banks' foot-dragging on loan modifications.

NAR is happy to report that in July, the administration expanded its Making Home Affordable loan modification program to include FHA borrowers. The program helps FHA servicers buy down loans by up to 30 percent of the unpaid principal balance and defer these amounts until the first mortgage is paid off. We're optimistic that this will have positive implications for thousands of home owners.

Eliminating Onerous Energy Rules

In late June, the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed in the House, and we heard from a lot of members who were alarmed about how it would affect real estate sales. What they didn't know was that we were already on the case.

Early on, the bill included provisions that would have required all houses, at the time of sale, to be audited and labeled according to their energy efficiency. We strenuously protested. David Wluka of Sharon, Mass., testified on our behalf, telling House members: "During this economic crisis, many families and commercial property owners don't have the financial resources to make energy-related improvements." That argument won the day. The labeling requirement for all existing homes, apartments, and commercial buildings was stripped from the bill, along with other ill-conceived provisions.

Before I close, I want to remind you that Sept. 13–19 is REALTOR® Safety Week. Visit REALTOR.org/safety for resources that will keep you safe on the job year-round. Stay safe!

Charles McMillan

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