Federal Government

2011 Top Public Policy Priorities

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

During the 2010 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans, NAR asked the members of its 12 policy-making committees to identify and rank the top federal policy issues which they believed would be of critical importance to the real estate industry in 2011.

The committees reported to the Public Policy Coordinating Committee (PPCC), that 37 issues had been identified. Using the issues identified by the committees, the PPCC ranked its top issues for 2011.

Having identified the priority issues, PPCC commissioned NAR's Research Division to develop an all-member survey to poll members on which issues they felt would be of critical importance to the industry in 2011. On February 2nd, NAR will hold its 2011 Policy Conference and Town Hall Meeting in Washington, D.C., where results of the PPCC survey and the all-member survey will be analyzed and discussed

The issues that will be discussed at the conference can be categorized into five areas and a brief summary of some, but not all, of the key issues are highlighted below with NAR's current position:

Significant federal income tax legislation is inevitable in the next few years and a variety of tax laws, including those affected by commercial and residential real estate, could be reviewed with a focus on raising revenue.
• Mortgage Interest Deduction - NAR opposes any changes that would limit or undermine current law.
• Capital Gains Exemption - NAR opposes any changes to the capital gains exemption on the sale of a home.
Real Estate Finance
Delinquencies are surging, home prices remain flat or in decline, and foreclosure rates continue to rise. Federal policy makers are poised to take action weighing a number of proposals aimed at laying the groundwork fo—r healthier housing and mortgage markets in the future.
• Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) - NAR is recommending that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be converted into government-chartered, non-shareholder owned authorities that are subject to tighter regulations on product, revenue generation and usage, and retained portfolio practices in a way that ensures the accomplishment of their mission and protection of the tax payer.
• Mortgage Loan Limits - NAR supports making the current higher loan limits and formula permanent.
• NAR Credit Policy - NAR is calling on the credit and lending industries and federal regulators to reassess the entire mortgage lending policy structure and look for ways to increase the availability of credit to qualified borrowers with good credit risks.
Energy and the Environment
Development of public policy should be guided by market principles and voluntary incentives, which preserve private property rights, ensure access to affordable property insurance, and maintain housing affordability and availability.
• National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) - NAR is recommending renewing and strengthening the longterm viability of the federal flood insurance program including comprehensive coverage for non-primary residences (e.g. rental properties and second homes) and reforms to provide "full risk" premiums for most repetitive loss structures in many states.
• Energy Efficiency and Climate Change - NAR supports improving energy efficiency through voluntary incentives in lieu of individual building mandates and educating property owners and consumers about the benefits of energy efficiency.
Commercial Real Estate
Having a sound and well-functioning commercial and multifamily real estate sector is critical to our country's economic growth and development, and to millions of U.S. businesses of all sizes that provide local communities with jobs and services.
• Commercial Real Estate Lending - NAR supports protecting and enhancing the flow of capital to commercial real estate. NAR believes Congress through legislation should increase the cap on credit union member business lending (MBL) and improving lending access through the passage of the Small Business Lending Fund.
Business Issues and Technology
While the business of real estate has traditionally been regulated at the state level, NAR represents the interest of its members to ensure that federal legislation and regulations support or do not needlessly hinder the ability of REALTORS®, realty firms, and REALTOR® associations to conduct business.
• Data Security - REALTORS® strongly support efforts to protect their clients' sensitive personal information but believe that any legislation must not overly burden small firms with limited resources. In addition, any federal data security legislation should not preempt state laws which may offer state residents additional protection.
• Net Neutrality - The business of real estate is increasingly conducted on-line. NAR believes that Internet users should be in control of what Internet content is accessed, the applications used, and the legal devices that they choose to connect to the Internet. In addition, network providers should not be allowed to discriminate among Internet data transmissions on the basis of the source of the transmission as they regulate the flow of network content.
To learn more about the issues that will be discussed at the 2011 Policy Conference and Town Hall Meeting, please visit www.realtor.org/government_affairs.

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