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Real Estate Associations

NAR and MBA urge Congress to help troubled homeowners hit by COVID

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) NAR and MBA wrote a letter to Congress seeking more emergency mortgage and rental assistance for homeowners because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) sent a letter to Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed and California Representative Maxine Waters on May 7. The letter supports legislation that funds emergency mortgage and rental assistance to Americans facing financial hardships due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Waters is the Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees banking, public and assisted housing, and insurance. Reed is a ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and a minority member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee.

Mortgage lenders and REALTORS® are working through unusual and adverse circumstances to provide vital housing security,” the letter states. “Across every state and local community, we have seen the need for Congress to help homeowners and renters faced with the sudden loss of income…A comprehensive response by Congress to these needs would include direct emergency mortgage and rental assistance to advance housing stability.”

According to the letter, 3.8 million homeowners have requested mortgage forbearance since the beginning of the pandemic. Payment forbearance and lowered interest rates are crucial to the housing sector’s ability to survive the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. As of April 29, 2020, the Federal Reserve has announced it would maintain a mortgage rate of 0 to 0.25% until the economy returns to a trajectory towards maximum employment.

The letter lauds the Housing Assistance Fund created to support homeowners ability to make mortgage payments and lenders ability to create flexibility for payments.

The NAR has been engaged in a series of legislative activism to protect Americans’ homes and keep people housed in a time when income has been significantly impacted. In just the last two weeks, NAR wrote two letters to Congress including this one and also supported two coalition letters. The coalition letters also supported emergency rental assistance for Americans with lost or reduced income. They also advocate for creating a comprehensive portal for consumers to access that emergency mortgage and rental relief. The fourth letter was to the Federal Housing Administration about increased premiums.

Though it is unclear the extent to which lawmakers have been economically impacted by the pandemic, they like everyone else have been impacted by the coronavirus. Waters’ sister died of COVID-19 in Saint Louis, Missouri last week.

It is never quite certain what it will take for Washington to stay connected to the needs of the average American and respond accordingly. Sweeping legislation has been passed in record time in response to the economic shutdown, but the government has a long way to go to prove to the American people that it is trustworthy enough to protect both lives and livelihood all together.

Heather Buffo is a Cleveland native, a recovering Bostonian, and an Austin newbie. Heather has her Bachelor of Arts in Neurobiology from Harvard University, and is a City Year Boston AmeriCorps alum. When she's not writing for AG, you can find her pouring beers at the Brewtorium, but only one at a time.

Real Estate Associations

New webinars on preventing property abandonment and vacancies

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) NAR is running a four-part series to help real estate professionals be part of the solution to prevent building abandonment and vacancies.

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Starting on Aug. 11, and running through Sept. 8, NAR is offering a four-part webinar series to help real estate agents prevent building vacancies and abandonment in light of businesses and people being unable to pay their mortgage and rent.

NAR is collaborating with local government officials and the Center for Community Progress to address the impending swell of property vacancy and abandonment in the United States, as the pandemic rolls on, and businesses and people are scrambling to pay their property expenses. Evictions, business closures, and abandonments have begun, both state and federal government seem to be floundering at coming up with a single, consistent way to prevent mass evictions and related problems.

NAR has been investing in these conversations and trying to help developers and landlords become part of the solution to prevent vacant and abandoned buildings from staying empty and according to the NAR press release, “The program and webinar series are part of a collaboration with the Center for Community Progress, whose mission is to foster strong, equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties become assets for neighbors and neighborhoods.”

This webinar series is a continuation of the Transforming Neighborhoods initiative. In this initiative, NAR Realtors are working with community partners to explore and address the underlying reasons properties are abandoned and remain vacant. They want to help prevent this scenario, while supporting community transformation, by putting a plan to rehabilitate buildings and create assets for the communities they are in, thereby helping the neighborhoods become or remain healthier and more vibrant.

NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, CA., elaborates on the role Realtors® play in rebuilding communities in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“As the nation grapples with the economic fallout of this pandemic alongside a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address inequity and injustice in our society, Realtors® have been instrumental in helping our neighborhoods move forward while emphasizing that a better future begins with stable communities and equal access to housing for all Americans.”

While the first part of the four-part series has aired Tuesday, here is the remaining schedule:

Code Enforcement – A Tool for Preventing Vacancy and Abandonment
August 25, 2020; 2 p.m. EDT

WEBINAR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Lessons from 2008 Great Recession and assumptions for the future
  • What is strategic code enforcement
  • How can strategic code enforcement prevent property decline caused by the COVID-19 crisis
  • Using neighborhood conditions to inform effective, efficient and equitable code enforcement strategies
  • REALTORS® as partners in preventing vacancy and abandonment

Transferring Vacant and Abandoned Properties
September 1, 2020; 2 p.m. EDT

WEBINAR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Making the connections between property tax enforcement, vacancy, and neighborhood stabilization
  • Efficient, effective, and equitable delinquent property tax enforcement systems
  • Innovative uses of code lien systems
  • REALTORS® working with local government

Land Banking – Returning Properties to Productive Use
September 8, 2020; 2 p.m. EDT

WEBINAR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Land banking – what is it?
  • How land banks can be most effective in community revitalization
  • Land banking as a tool neighborhood stabilization during economic crisis
  • Successful partnerships between REALTORS® and land banks

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Real Estate Associations

NAR urges HUD to withdraw misguided proposal on equal housing

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) NAR calls on HUD to reconsider their position concerning who can submit claims, there may be too many faulty claims and slow the help to those in need.

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The NAR requests that The HUD withdraw its amended proposal of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard as deeply rooted systemic discrimination has the potential to result in tons of unintentional inequity claims.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a request yesterday from The National Association of Realtors (NAR) asking them to withdraw its recent proposal amending the “Disparate Impact” rule.

NAR believes that while the proposal is a needed and welcomed change, written in August 2019 to amend the HUD’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standards meant to close a segregational gap, (highly-segregated neighborhoods, unfair treatment for people of color, credit inequality, etc.), the proposal creates separation instead of unity between U.S citizens and the NAR, it’s businesses and Realtors, by implementing rules that allow for an overwhelming amount of disparate impact claims.

In support of the August proposal, HUD’s secretary Ben Carson stated, “There is a lack of affordable housing in America today. This proposed rule is intended to increase legal clarity and promote the production and availability of housing in all areas while making sure every person is treated fairly under the law.”

The change to the Disparate Act opens the door for more claims reporting unequal treatment and/or discrimination intentionally. The theory here is not that deeply rooted systemic oppression can be stopped, but that maybe the easier accessibility to submit a claim will force Realtors to make lawfully supported decisions based on industry standards instead of opinions, ultimately holding Realtors who ignore ethical guidelines accountable.

Without the organization receiving the necessary tools and education required to make an impactful change, it will likely result in an overwhelming amount of unintentional discrimination claims. It is also important that the NAR holds the ability to protect its Realtors, their liberty, and rights to a free real estate market.

While it might seem ridiculous of them to ask the HUD to work collaboratively on the Disparate Act in order to provide equal housing, and fair treatment and support of both the NAR and U.S citizens, it’s a necessary business move on behalf of the NAR.

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Real Estate Associations

NAR supports economic inclusion for equal housing opportunities

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) The NAR is pushing to insure anyone who wants a home can get one through a combination of economic inclusion, and eliminating implicit bias.

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The National Association of Realtors® is working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Equality of Opportunity that addresses accessibility to housing based on economic inclusion. NAR CEO Bob Goldberg said,

“We believe that building a better future in America begins with equal access to housing and opportunity. With ongoing residential segregation contributing to many problems in our society, NAR recognizes that this nation cannot achieve true economic equality without first achieving true equality in housing. Our commitment to this cause and to Fair Housing has only strengthened in response to recent tragedies in America.”

What is economic inclusion?

According to the FDIC, economic inclusion describes the efforts to bring underserved communities into the financial mainstream. This could include things like making sure consumers have access to bank accounts and financial services; protections against discriminatory lending practices; and other types of consumer protections. Although the FDIC’s efforts seem to focus on unbanked and underbanked consumers, economic inclusion reaches around to all financial transactions, including housing.

Research from the Brookings Institution cites barriers to economic inclusion as slowing economic growth in local communities. Giving underserved communities access to financial products and opportunities actually spurs the local economy. The government bears the weight of services for the underserved. For example, childhood poverty costs the U.S. economy about 4% of the GDP annually. Nationwide, that is about $500 billion a year. Economic inclusion gives people a way out. It’s not a hand-out, but education and opportunities to change the future.

The NAR is making real change for the underserved

Last week, it was announced that the NAR introduced tools that would reduce implicit bias. Goldberg said, “NAR has spent recent years reexamining how our 1.4 million members can best lead the fight against discrimination, bigotry, and injustice.” The NAR isn’t just talking about it. They’re putting their money behind inclusion, and preventing unfair housing practices. These kind of changes matter for everyone.

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