Progress on the Tough Issues

This month's magazine gives you a sneak peek at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, which is taking place Nov. 13-16 in San Diego. And while many of us at NAR are planning our conference schedules, we're also working as hard as ever on your behalf.

October 1, 2009

At the top of our priority list is a big push to expand and extend the federal home buyer tax credit. The tax credit has been working beautifully, helping push home sales higher in April, May, June, and July. We estimate that up to 2 million first-time buyers will take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit this year—with about 350,000 of those sales coming as a direct result of the credit.

That’s a lot of additional home sales, yet there’s more to be done. Housing inventory has been declining nationally, but we’re still not down to a six-month inventory, which would indicate a balanced market. Not only that, the delays we’re all experiencing as a result of distressed sales and new appraisal rules mean that many buyers probably won’t make the Nov. 30 closing deadline. That’s why we’re asking Congress to continue the credit and expand it to all home buyers.

Regarding the new appraisal rules: Although it was well-intentioned, the Home Valuation Code of Conduct—which essentially regulates the way appraisals are assigned on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s conforming loans—was ill-conceived and poorly implemented. Our members, both sales practitioners and appraisers, are suffering the consequences. So are our customers.

NAR-supported legislation in Congress would place an 18-month moratorium on the HVCC. As of Sept. 1, there were 54 cosponsors, and we’ll continue to push Congress to move the bill this fall.

Meanwhile, for months, we’ve been saying that the HVCC doesn’t apply to FHA and VA loans—and that’s true. However, in late August, officials at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development clarified that they were reviewing their appraisal policies with an eye toward adopting changes that take the HVCC into account. The good news is this: HUD is soliciting our input. At a Sept. 8 meeting, we shared our thoughts on how to implement a policy that protects appraiser independence but doesn’t negatively impact real estate markets. Visit REALTOR.org/HVCC for updates.

Of course, we’re also doing what we can to help you successfully close distressed-property sales. At REALTOR.org/shortsales you’ll see our newest offering, a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) certification.

So, yes, we continue to face serious challenges—but I’m proud of the progress we’ve made on a number of fronts. Whether I’m working on this column, recording a podcast, meeting with members of Congress, or attending NAR conferences, I do so with your interests and your needs at heart.

Charles McMillan

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

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