Recently the four states that comprise our NAR region met in Bentonville, Arkansas at the wonderful museum known as Crystal Bridges. Last year, our Region 9 Vice President Theresa Stewart resurrected this meeting after it had taken a hiatus. So for the second year, the CEOs, Presidents, Presidents-elect and other invited guests gathered to talk about how we can use our combined strength to improve the work we’re doing in our states and influence policy with NAR. Also in attendance were three incoming NAR presidents, the NAR CEO Dale Stinson, and NAR Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello. From Oklahoma, I attended as well as our Treasurer Kacy Bell, CEO Lisa Noon and VP of Government Affairs Matt Robison.
Much of the discussion was centered on the upcoming Midyear Legislative Meeting in Washington, D.C., pending legislation and issues we believe to be on the horizon. The highlight of this discussion was the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and the real possibility of losing it in some or all forms. The scenarios go from abolishing it completely to indexing it with a cap—or a limit of the first 5 years—for deductions, among others.
The next discussion was on the non-binding budget resolutions coming from Representative Ryan in the House and the President’s proposal. This and discussions on tax reform are not just issues of differences in the parties, they are also differences within the parties as well as the two chambers of Congress. For instance, the senate wants tax reform and the house wants budget cuts within the republican party. Democrats are split between Congress and the President. This kind of chaos can breed some very bad decisions, and NAR is closely monitoring anything that can affect benefits disappearing for home owners.
NAR is concerned about the pattern of approaching arbitrary deadlines that seem to disrupt confidence in the economy going into robust recovery with so much uncertainty in funding government functions and some agreement on long-term solutions.
NAR is also vigilant on protecting FHA and preventing any legislation that would require a 20% minimum down payment, including interpreting Dodd-Frank as requiring this as a safeguard to avoid “moral hazard”. NAR hopes that extraordinary profits last year for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will protect the institutions of secondary mortgage money even if reforms are used to merge or alter them. They are vital to keeping mortgage money flowing to our clients.
Many other issues that are important to us are immigration reform with the obvious shortages in labor on new construction, revitalizing Rural Housing Section 502 in a way like the 5-year flood insurance program extension targeted and won by NAR last year instead of the band aids allowing it to lapse, and much more.
The need to raise money through RPAC and maintain our good record of responding to NAR calls for action are essential to protect our clients as well as our industry. So many issue are in front of us nationally, regionally and locally; the four-state Region 9 consisting of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas are working together to not only communicate about, but to also work toward solutions that protect the American dream of home ownership.
If you haven’t already contributed to RPAC, which is also an investment in your business, please do now. It doesn’t matter whether you give $15 or $1500; the important thing is to join with us in leadership that leads to a better way of life for those we serve. It is meetings like this that bring the issues home. And home is where we want all Americans be.