The National Association of Realtors 2004 legislative and regulatory agenda will focus on increased regulatory oversight, expanding housing opportunities, promoting favorable real estate tax initiatives, increasing the transparency of the real estate transaction and keeping big banks out of the real estate business.

These issues were selected by NAR leaders who gathered at NAR’s 2004 Legislative/Regulatory Policy Meeting in Washington last week to determine the association’s top policy priorities for the second session of the 108th Congress.

“Policies favorable to home ownership have contributed to the dynamic housing market that has been the engine of our economy over the past three years,” said NAR President Walt McDonald, broker-owner of Walt McDonald Real Estate in Riverside, Calif.

“However, homeowners and the real estate industry face serious issues this year. We are particularly concerned about the recent regulation by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency that allows national banks to pre-empt state real estate lending laws and other state financial regulations. This trend could create federal regulation of real estate finance and perhaps also real estate brokerage if it is allowed to continue,” McDonald said.

In light of the OCC ruling, NAR will increase its efforts to educate Congress and the executive branch on the dangers of allowing big banks into the real estate business. NAR will also push to enact the Community Choice in Real Estate Act, H.R. 111/S. 98, that would prohibit banking conglomerates from taking over the real estate business and ensure that consumers have as many choices as possible when purchasing a home. A majority of Congress along with a chorus of consumer and small business groups agrees that if big banks were allowed to get into real estate, there would be a negative impact on local communities across America, leaving home buyers and sellers with fewer choices, higher loan fees and reduced customer service.

NAR will be working even more closely with government agencies, particularly the Federal Trade Commission, on the pitfalls and unintended consequences of establishing a “do-not-spam” registry.

NAR will also work with the FTC on provisions in the recently enacted legislation that requires a number of government agencies to better promulgate rules that implement legislation.

NAR’s 2004 housing opportunities agenda will focus on efforts that aim to increase the supply of affordable housing through the enactment of home ownership tax credit legislation, H.R. 839/S. 875; raise the conforming loan limits to more accurately reflect home price appreciation in high-cost areas and thus provide lower loan costs for consumers; ensure that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the secondary mortgage market remain viable and healthy; and pass a multi-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Realtors will also work to block a proposed rule to reform the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act from being finalized in its current form. NAR supports efforts to improve RESPA, a consumer disclosure law that ensures that the buyer and seller have knowledge of all settlement costs in a real estate transaction, and has long supported transparency and consumer disclosures. However, NAR believes that there are serious flaws with the current proposal and that it would create more problems than it solves.


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