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NAR pens assertive letter to HUD about regulatory burdens

(POLITICS) Recently, NAR wrote a letter to HUD on what they’d like to see them tackle, including but not limited to mortgage insurance premiums, condos, and PACE loans.



internal communication strategy

NAR has had enough

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development – HUD, to its friends – has officially begun the formal process of addressing housing regulations, publishing a request to comment pursuant to Executive Orders 13771 and 13777, both of which called on the agency to evaluate its policies with an eye to trimming burdensome regulations.

Phew. Sexy lede, right?

NAR’s letter

That said, as is so tragically often the case, sexy isn’t the same as important. This is important. One of the strongest messages of President Trump’s campaign was a major reduction of regulatory oversight.

And nobody has more regulations or more oversight than housing.

Plus, short of being from space, Dr. Ben Carson, current director of HUD and former neurosurgeon and Trump presidential opponent, is from about as far outside the Beltway as it’s possible to be.

The next year or so may well be the best chance for major reform in housing regulation for a decade.

No surprise, then, that the National Association of Realtors, has jumped in with both feet.

NAR’s comment focused on 4 key areas, all vital for anyone with an interest in the housing industry:

Mortgage Insurance Premiums

One of the key burdens to homeownership is the necessity of mortgage insurance, the yearly payment required of buyers with less than 10% down.

NAR argues that mortgage insurance creates an undue burden on homeowners and a chilling effect on home buying.

Also, that its elimination would increase cash on hand for homeowners, increasing their ability to weather financial setbacks and volatile markets and thereby decreasing the likelihood of default and foreclosure.

FHA Approval in Condominiums

Again with the “not sexy, but important.” It’s no secret that homeownership has been declining badly over the last few decades. One of the few bright spots has been condos: they’ve been one of the few paths to ownership available to first-time buyers, older Americans and folks in general without immaculate credit and/or giant Scrooge McDuck bins of cash on hand to dive into.

NAR argues for two primary reforms to keep that goodness going.

First, they argue for changes to the FHA approval process, arguing that the current process is unnecessarily obstructive, and for loans to be made available on non-FHA approved spaces while the regulations are being reviewed.

Second, they pitch a new zoning model. At minimum, the NAR wants a reduction in the hard limit of condo-approved space being 50 percent residential to 35. At best, it wants the limit removed altogether in favor of determining what spaces are and aren’t appropriate for residential use on a case by case basis.

Clean Energy Loans

NAR states its opposition to a change in HUD regulations made in July of last year, in which default on PACE loans, made available for purchase of property that meets certain renewable energy and tech standards, would be given priority over default or foreclosure payments.

In short, when a loan goes south, NAR would like its money back before the government gets theirs. No surprise there.

Fair Housing

This is the biggest chunk of the letter, and no wonder, because it’s far and away the most substantial issue raised by NAR in its comment letter. While acknowledging the ongoing presence of race-based inequality and de facto segregation in housing, NAR calls on HUD to reduce rather than increase its involvement in the issue, shifting authority from the federal to the local level and significantly decreasing the strictness of its standards.

NAR argues for “home grown” solutions, with HUD as facilitator of a process chosen and put into effect by local interests rather than arbitrator of housing standards.

Years to come

All four issues will be vital to the development of housing over the next decades. The reform process has only begun, and its consequences promises real and exciting change for years to come.


Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.


COVID-19: NAR’s fight for independent contractor relief

(POLITICS) Economic relief is on its way for the self-employed and independent contractors like Realtors, with NAR pushing politicians to pay attention.




Earlier this week the U.S. Senate passed an unprecedented $2 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package. The bill is now in the U.S. House and is expect to be signed by the President without any issues.

Self-employed and independent contractors have been anxious about the bill since talks began. It would not be the first time theses types of workers were left out of key economic legislation. As the majority of the nation’s realtors are self-employed or commission-based, they have been hit hard by the economic effects of COVID-19.

Just last week home buyer disinterest tripled; few are looking to buy a home right now and social distancing restrictions have made it difficult to attract new clients or show property.

Realtors want to do their part to stop the spread of the virus, but just like everyone else, they need support during this difficult time.

During the last several weeks, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been in constant discussion with lawmakers to ensure that these groups are taken into account for the economic relief package.

NAR Senior VP of Government Affairs, Shannon McGahn stated, “We have worked closely with Congressional leaders and the administration during the past several weeks to ensure all three bills bring relief to the self-employed, independent contractors, and small businesses. The real estate industry is responsible for millions of jobs and is key to our national recovery.”

The economic relief package includes $350 billion for the Small Business Administration 7(a) loan program. Under the terms, eligible small businesses, which in this case are those that have 500 employees or fewer, can receive up to $10 million toward mortgage interest, rents, utilities, and payroll costs. A portion of these loans will be forgivable.

In addition to relief through the loan program, self-employed and independent contractors will be able to take advantage of unemployment insurance benefits. This program could cover benefits for up to 39 weeks, a huge relief as many find themselves and their businesses suddenly devoid of cashflow.

This is the third relief package to be signed into law, with a fourth expected to be signed in the coming months. These are stressful COVID-19 times and no bill will ever be perfect, but some relief is on its way. 

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COVID-19: Senate passes the relief bill, now it’s in the House’s hands

(POLITICS) Many people heard that the Senate passed a relief bill, but don’t quite understand that it’s not a done deal. Now the House gets to add their input.



covid-19 relief bill

The House can’t seem to agree on the COVID-19 relief bill. Yesterday, the Senate and the White House came to an agreement on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package. Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has publicly stated that the House will be reviewing the bill, but there is no commitment as to whether the bill will pass or not. The Hill reported that some House Democrats are concerned that they have not provided any input.

What’s in the measure?

According to CBS News, the actual text of the measure hasn’t been released, but they did get information from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer about some of the contents:

  • Expanded unemployment benefits to boost the maximum benefit and to give laid-off workers full pay for four months
  • Direct payments to individuals making less than $99,000
  • $130 billion for hospitals
  • $367 billion in loans for small business
  • $150 billion for state and local governments
  • $500 billion for large businesses
  • Creates an oversight board to govern large loans
  • Prohibitions to prevent President Trump and family from getting federal relief

Will the measure pass?

Pelosi has said that this relief bill is a big improvement over the Republican’s first proposal. It seems as if she is working hard to move the measure through the House, but given the current state of politics, it’s hard to believe that anything will be done without some debate. 

Many Democrats have pushed for a food stamp increase, which is not in the current measure. However, the Democrats did win on the oversight board that protects the employees of the companies who are getting loans. Money for states was another Democrat victory in the current measure.

If the bill can pass the House unanimously, lawmakers won’t have to vote on the floor.

If the House can’t agree, the House will need to reconvene and amend the Senate measure or pass their own measure.

Under the COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine issues, it might be difficult to get anything done quickly. The urgency is real, but so is the responsibility. Representatives want the money to do what Congress intends, not for CEO compensation or stock buyouts.

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Trump orders HUD to halt foreclosures, evictions through April



covid-19 hud response

President Trump announced Wednesday that the administration has ordered the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to suspend all evictions and foreclosures through April, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a White House press briefing, he stated, “The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April,” adding that they are “working very closely with Dr. Ben Carson and everybody from HUD.”

Under guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local leaders in many states have looked at the possibility of suspending evictions during the COVID-19 fallout, and looking at ways to insure both renters and property owners are protected.

Mass gatherings have been cancelled indefinitely across the nation, and most states have already shut down restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, and retail locations.

President Trump was asked during the press briefing to respond to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s statements on Tuesday (to Senate Republicans that unemployment could surge to 20% in a worst-case scenario), stating simply, “I don’t agree with that. That’s an absolute total, worst-case scenario.” Mnuchin reiterated the statement is only a depiction of the worst-case scenario.

HUD has not yet put out a press statement or offered commentary.

Fear and uncertainty remains high – many employees were sent home to work remotely, others to wait on more information regarding their employment status. It is likely that a huge swath of the nation won’t have any capacity to pay rent in coming weeks, perhaps months.

Congress and the Trump Administration continue to negotiate an economic rescue package to address business closings and layoffs, but no agreement has been reached yet.

In this time of uncertainty, one thing is certain – HUD won’t be kicking anyone out of their homes right now.

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