HGAR Contingent Heads off to Washington, D.C. To Press Congress on Key Industry, Consumer Issues

John Jordan | May 2015

US Capitol Building, Washington DC, USAWASHINGTON—A contingent of members of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors traveled to the nation’s capital to join other Realtor leaders from across the country to advance key real estate issues with regulators and members of Congress during the National Association of Realtors Realtor Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, here from May 13 – May 16.

Nearly 8,500 Realtors and guests were expected to meet with legislators, regulatory officials and top industry executives to ensure qualified buyers and investors have access to safe and affordable mortgage financing and protect and advance the operations of Realtors’ businesses and real estate-related tax policies.

“To ensure all Americans continue to have affordable access to commercial and residential property ownership and investment, it’s vital for Realtors to continue the dialogue with regulators and elected officials,” said National Association of Realtors President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, AK. “With the current policy debates underway in Washington, this is a critical time for Realtors to come together and be heard on the issues that are important to the industry, communities and the clients that Realtors serve.”

While on Capitol Hill, Realtors will urge elected officials to preserve current real estate-related tax policies and extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act, which expired at the end of 2014 and prevents distressed homeowners from facing excessive income tax bills on forgiven home loan debt. Realtors will also be actively engaging with lawmakers on protecting commercial real estate related tax provisions, such as retaining like-kind exchange provisions and making permanent the 15-year depreciation period for leasehold improvements.

In addition, Realtors are urging members of Congress to enact legislation reforming patent demand letters, setting nationwide data security standards, and ending discrimination against affiliated lenders by passing the Mortgage Choice Act.

Realtors were scheduled to attend sessions with government officials and industry experts, including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, who will provide a housing industry outlook, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, who will speak about changes to loan closing procedures and documents.

On Thursday, May 14, NAR’s Polychron was scheduled to offer testimony before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s changes that the Truth in Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act integrated disclosure requirements will bring on August 1 to the mortgage closing process.

“NAR is generally supportive of the move to harmonization, as long as it benefits consumers and makes the real estate transaction smoother. However, we see potential for significant bumps in the road—bumps that could cost families time and money and cause serious frustration,” said Polychron. “As the leading advocate for real estate issues, it’s our job to address this pressing issue as well as many others with Congress, regulators and industry official this week as we continue our fight to protect consumers in the real estate transaction, promote affordable financing, and address the issues affecting the real estate business and industry.”

Attendees will also be conducting in-person meetings with Obama administration officials and senior staff at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth