On August 2, 2017, the National Association of REALTORS® hosted an Appraisal Summit, focused on the role of Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs) and their effect on the appraisal industry. A variety of stakeholders in the appraisal field, including AMCs, lenders, federal regulatory officials, trade association representatives, and REALTOR® agents and appraisers attended the Summit. NAR Vice President of Government Affairs Kevin Sears led the discussion, which covered topics ranging from how AMCs and lenders handle appraiser independence issues to ways on the ground agents and... Read More
On Wednesday, August 2, the Senate Small Business Committee marked up and approved by a voice vote of 19-0 S. 1428, the Small Business Cyber Training Act of 2017, sponsored by Senator Risch (R-ID), with cosponsors Senators Shaheen (D-NH), Kennedy (R-LA), Duckworth (D-IL), and Peters (D-MI). This bipartisan bill would require small business development centers that have received grants from the SBA to have staff who are certified in cyber security planning methods, and authorizes the SBA to fund that training. If passed, it will increase access to cyber security expertise for small... Read More
In an early morning Friday July 28th vote, the Senate Republican leadership’s so-called “skinny” Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill failed to gather the 50 votes required for passage. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and John McCain (R-AZ) sided with Democrats in a 49-51 roll call vote.
Released a few hours before the vote, the 8-page bill would have repealed the ACA’s individual mandate, suspended the employer mandate for 8 years, repealed an ACA tax on medical devices, increased contribution... Read More
On July 26, 2017, NAR, as part of a broad coalition of housing, lending, insurance and consumer groups, opposed a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) regulation barring lenders from accepting private flood insurance on FHA insured loans, and urged its immediate reversal.
On the same day, NAR wrote the full Senate requesting support and co-sponsorship of S. 563, “The Flood Insurance Market Parity & Modernization Act” (Heller [R-NV]; Tester [D-MT]). The bill would remove additional barriers to the private market, which increasingly, is offering better coverage at... Read More
Fulfilling a portion of an executive order by President Donald Trump, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have released a proposal to rescind the Waters of the United States rule that expanded federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
NAR filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission on Monday July 17 urging the agency to maintain the Open Internet Order that was put into effect in 2015. This order creates rules establishing network neutrality. The FCC has proposed rolling back those rules and is currently seeking public comment.
Net neutrality is shorthand for the concept that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet. More specifically, net neutrality requires that broadband networks be free of restrictions on content,... Read More
On July 19, 2017, NAR signed onto an industry coalition letter in support of the “Credit Score Competition Act,” introduced by Senators Scott (R-SC) and Warner (D-VA). The legislation would instruct Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to utilize newer, more predictive and inclusive credit models, which will responsible expand access to mortgage financing for many Americans.
On July 14, NAR, in coalition with other commercial real estate trade groups, sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs, providing them with a list of ways the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can be improved to be more responsive and effective for commercial real estate. The Senate Banking Committee is currently working on drafting reauthorizing legislation for the NFIP, which is set to expire on September 30.
The letter asks for six things:
NAR commented on a Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Request for Information regarding the regulatory environment surrounding the individual and small group health insurance markets. A division of the Department of Health and Human Services, CMS was provided useful evidence on NAR’s unique self-employed and small business membership and associated health care priorities. The letter stresses the need for affordable quality health insurance options in the individual insurance market; protections for preexisting conditions and preventive health and... Read More
On July 10, 2017 NAR submitted comments to the FHFA regarding the Agency's proposed “Duty to Serve Underserved Markets” Plans. Ensuring the continued availability of affordable mortgage credit to all qualified borrowers is an obligation of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Without the affirmative obligation of either of the Enterprises to facilitate the financing of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families consistent with sustainable homeownership, access to credit in some of these markets would remain limited. As the Enterprises implement their... Read More
NAR submitted comments on the most burdensome regulations issued by the Department of Energy. In response to a Request for Information (RFI) on burdensome regulations, NAR, in its letter, outlined the regulatory burdens posed to the real estate sector by the Home Energy Performance Score and the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program.
NAR welcomes the opportunity to promote effective, voluntary energy efficiency practices among property owners throughout the country. The association will continue to work with NAR members, property owners and all interested parties to educate... Read More
On July 7, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released the final rule amending the “Know Before You Owe” (KBYO or TRID) mortgage disclosure rule. As advocated for by NAR, the final rule clarifies the ability to share the Closing Disclosure (CD) with third parties - a victory for real estate professionals nationwide.
As outlined in the 2016 proposed rule, the final rule highlights an existing exception within the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and implementing Regulation P that allows lenders to share the CD with third parties (sections 502(e... Read More
NAR has joined a coalition of businesses and public interest groups working to preserve Open Internet rules—also known as network neutrality. NAR together with tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon and main street companies like Walmart have joined together to advocate for preserving net neutrality. The coalition will work at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in the courts and on Capitol Hill to ensure that internet remains an open and level playing field, an issue critical to our business success.
Net neutrality is shorthand for the concept that... Read More
On June 29, 2017, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs held its first or several hearings of the year on housing finance reform. The hearing, entitled “Principles of Housing Finance Reform” consisted of three witness panelists from the Mortgage Bankers Association, Housing Policy Counsel of the Financial Services Roundtable, and Center for Responsible Lending.
NAR submitted a statement highlighting that any new housing finance system must ensure that in all markets mortgage capital will always remain available for creditworthy... Read More
On June 27, 2017, NAR submitted letters to the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director, U.S. Treasury Secretary, members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs and U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, expressing concern related to the scheduled elimination of capital reserves held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Enterprises).
Specifically, NAR letters state to Congress and the banking agencies that in the absence of comprehensive housing finance reform, policymakers need to address the declining capital reserves at the Enterprises.... Read More
On June 15, 2017, the House Financial Services Committee began consideration of a series of bills to reform and reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The Committee is expected to vote on these bills and then combine them into one package for consideration by the full House.
On the first day of the mark up, the Committee approved two of the seven bills:
On Thursday, June 15, the House Financial Services Committee began marking up seven bills reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). These bills would reauthorize the NFIP for five years, as well as make changes to the program and how it's administered, some which will affect the way that commercial properties purchase and utilize the program. NAR sent a letter to the Committee ahead of the markup, which was joined by several commercial real estate trade groups, providing a list of priorities for commercial real estate to consider including in the NFIP reauthorization... Read More
On June 14, 2017, NAR submitted a letter in response to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) request for comment regarding HUD's effort to evaluate and identify regulations that merit repeal, replacement or modification in accordance with the directives under Executive Order 13777, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.”
NAR strongly supports the programs and policies at HUD that promote home ownership and help build stable and successful communities. Reviewing current HUD guidance, rules and regulations is an important step... Read More
NAR 2017 President-Elect Elizabeth Mendenhall hosted a roundtable with government regulators and industry leaders focused on the advancement of electronic closing (eClosing) processes. Participants deliberated ways to promote eClosings, which have proven to be more efficient, intelligible, and secure than traditional closings with paper disclosures. In debating the hurdles to eClosing adoption, many issues were discussed including consumer needs, risk management uncertainty, collaboration and implementation technology complexities, and operational and economic benefits provided to invested... Read More
On June 12, 2017, NAR sent a letter in response to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) advanced notice of proposed rulemaking regarding revisions to allowable charges and fees associated with VA guaranteed home loans.
In recent years, REALTORS® have noted that restrictions on the charges and fees VA Loan borrowers can pay in a home purchase transaction are hindering the ability of VA borrowers to compete with other buyers in today's housing market. NAR urges the VA to allow veterans and active-service members the ability to negotiate the terms of their home... Read More
On June 9, 2017, NAR President submitted a letter in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) proposed re-organization of the USDA governing structure, in which the Under Secretary of Rural Development would be removed and the USDA Rural Development programs would report directly to the Secretary of Agriculture. NAR urges USDA to reconsider the elimination of the Under Secretary for Rural Development. This action would limit the ability and effectiveness of the Rural Development agencies, including the Rural Housing Service (RHS), to serve the housing and community needs... Read More
On June 7, 2017, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing entitled “Flood Insurance Reform: A Taxpayer’s Perspective.” NAR submitted detailed comments on six reform bills released by the Committee on May 25. A markup of a series of bills is scheduled next Wednesday (June 14). NAR will keep members posted.
On June 7, 2017, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta withdrew the 2015 informal guidance on independent contractor misclassification offering a victory to independent contractors across the county. The Administrator’s Interpretation 2015-1 expanded the “economic realities” test used to define the term “employee” for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), jeopardizing the ability of employers to classify workers as independent contractors.
Secretary Acosta also withdrew the 2016 informal guidance (... Read More
On May 19, 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published Circular 26-17-14 clarifying that there is no maximum standard for the distance between the subject property and related comparable sale properties. Rather, the appraiser should specify why in a certain market, rural or suburban, whether extended distances are normal for that market and how they appraiser determined how and which comparable sale properties were used.
The VA issued this clarification after noting that the current policy in the VA Lender’s Handbook chapter 11, section 7, subsection e,... Read More
On May 31, 2017, the federal bank regulatory agencies - the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) – released an Issue Advisory on Appraiser Availability drawing attention to two existing options a state may use when facing a shortage of appraisers.
(1) Allowing out-of-state qualified appraisers to temporarily practice in an underserved area. These permits allow appraisers credentialed in one state to... Read More