HGAR Delegation Travels to DC To Lobby Lawmakers on Key Issues

John Jordan | May 12, 2016

WASHINGTON—A contingent of members and staff of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors traveled to the nation’s capital this week to take part in the National Association of Realtors’ Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo event, which include meetings with members of Congress, federal regulators, as well as industry leaders.

Richard Haggerty, HGAR CEO inducted to RPAC Hall of Fame
Richard Haggerty, HGAR CEO inducted to RPAC Hall of Fame

One of the highlights of the event thus far was the induction of HGAR’s J.P. Endres, Nancy Kennedy and Richard Haggerty to the Realtor’s Political Action Committee (RPAC Hall of Fame). The two former association presidents and HGAR CEO were honored for their individual contributions over the years that have exceeded $25,000 each.

More than 8,500 Realtors and guests from across the country were expected to attend the meetings which run through May 14.

“There is a wide range of residential and commercial real estate issues that are of high importance to Realtors and are coming to a head right now, so we’ll be using the strength of our combined voices to remind members of Congress to maintain sound real estate markets,” said National Association of Realtors President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Fl. “Furthermore, we’ll be setting the stage for next year, after the elections, when House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle are expected to move tax reform proposals.”

Nancy Kennedy, RPAC Hall of Fame event
Nancy Kennedy, RPAC Hall of Fame event

Conference attendees will hear from industry and political thought leaders, including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who will discuss student loan debt, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA.), who will share perspectives on housing finance and student debt; political pollsters Peter Hart and Bill McInturff, who will offer insights into the mood of the country and its impact on the 2016 presidential and congressional campaigns; investigative journalist and author Bob Woodward, who will share his thoughts on the presidential elections, and Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner, who will discuss financial and commercial real estate markets. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun will also share residential and commercial real estate market updates and forecasts.

Throughout the week, Realtors will descend on Capitol Hill and meet directly with members of Congress and their staff to discuss the legislative and regulatory environment and its effect on residential and commercial real estate. Among the high-profile policy issues that Realtors will raise are extending the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, maintaining important real estate tax policies, Federal Housing Administration reforms, and ensuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage guarantee fees are not extended, increased and diverted away for unrelated government spending.

Attendees will also be conducting in-person meetings with officials and staff at the White House and more than a half dozen regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service, Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, among others.

One of the issues raised at a panel discussion at the NAR Legislative Meetings was the burden of student loan debt and how it impacts the housing market. The keynote speaker of the session was U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Castro. During his remarks, Secretary Castro announced some of the regulatory changes coming soon to ensure housing opportunities exist for young men and women—many of whom are currently repaying the loans they borrowed to earn a college degree.

Secretary Castro began his address by saying the prescription to the American Dream has always been working hard, saving your money and investing in yourself, often by getting a great education. What has changed in recent times is that the third step—getting a great education—is more expensive than ever.

According to Castro, HUD is committed to working with its partners across the administration and in the housing community to explore additional changes that can help more Americans purchase a home. That’s why last November, Federal Housing Administration Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Ed Golding announced changes to condo rules that would address a lengthy and complex recertification process, owner-occupancy requirements, and limits on the types of property insurance that FHA considers acceptable coverage. Secretary Castro announced that the proposed condo rule has left the HUD building and is at the Office of Management and Budget for review.

A panel discussion followed consisting of Rohit Chopra, a senior official at the U.S. Department of Education; Meta Brown, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; NAR’s Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research; and Mabel Guzman, chairwoman of NAR’s student loan debt work group and a Realtor® from Chicago-based real estate brokerage @Properties.

The panel participants agreed that in addition to affordability concerns, inventory shortages and lifestyle factors such as marrying later in life and having to repay student loan debt are burdening a segment of creditworthy buyers by making it more difficult to save for a down payment.

Pointing to NAR survey data of actual homebuyers and renters, Lautz said even with the numerous obstacles they face, Millennials do make up the largest share of buyers among all generations, and more than 90% of them currently renting have indicated a desire to become homeowners in the future.

“With home prices and rents on the rise, saving for the down payment is a challenge for many would-be buyers,” said Lautz. “Unfortunately, among other factors, repaying student debt is delaying a typical individuals’ path to homeownership by roughly five years.”

The final speaker, Guzman, said that in addition to Congress passing legislation that helps ease borrowers’ debt burden, Realtors can play a big role by working with their young clients at the beginning stages of their housing needs, particularly during the leasing process when renting their first place.

“Realtors can be a resourceful advocate for their young clients repaying student debt by educating them about their housing options and pointing them to credible resources, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s information on student debt,” added Guzman. “The urge to be a homeowner is not lost among young adults, and we can all can work together early in the process to make sure they’re able to buy when they’re ready.”

Photo Caption: Richard Haggerty, HGAR CEO, Nancy Kennedy, and JP Endres Past HGAR Presidents, RPAC Hall of Fame inductees.


John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth