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May 2017 CEO Report

DavidFreitagMy report this month I will focus on my attendance at the 2017 NAR REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington. Nearly 10,000 REALTORS® and others attended the meetings and made visits to their members of Congress to advocate on behalf of homeowners, commercial property investors, and strong communities.

 On Monday and Tuesday, I was in classes to become certified to teach REBAC® class using the license that FAOR now holds. This will allow our Association the ability to host and teach NAR approved designation classes.

We had a full day on Wednesday beginning with the NAR Federal Issues Briefing at 7 a.m. This allows our government affairs staff to bring the members information on our positions on proposed Federal laws.

115th Congress First Session Goals that impact REALTORS

  • Passing the fiscal year 2018 Budget
  • Tax Reform
  • Use of Budget Reconciliation
  • National Flood Insurance
  • GSE Reform

Two Points on Federal Income Tax Reform

  • GOP control does not ensure tax reform will be quick and easy or even a foregone conclusion.
  • Use of “Reconciliation” procedure gets around the need for 60 votes, but it is generally slow and difficult.

  Why NAR opposes blueprint-like reform

1. Middle-income homeowners will pay more tax than renters.

2. Tax incentives for moving from renting to owning are reduced or eliminated.

3. Home values will drop, at least temporarily.

Key Take-Away are that a majority of middle-income homeowners

see higher taxes as a result of this proposed tax reform and the share of federal income taxes paid by homeowners goes up.  Tax incentives for moving from renting to owning are reduced or eliminated. Moreover, because of these proposals, NAR projects that home values will drop, at least temporarily.

The legislative team from our Board had appointments on Capitol Hill with all of our local congressional delegation. We had visits with Representatives Bob Latta, Jim Jordan, Marcy Kaptur, and Bob Gibbs. We also had visits with Senators Brown and Portman. All of our visits were productive, and our team did a great job with sharing our positions on our Federal Issues.

I attended the trade show, and our Board visited vendors to talk about MLS showing services. We were able to gather information, and because of these meetings, I was able to negotiate a better rate for services for our MLS.

Other actions that happened at the NAR meetings include that the NAR Board of Directors voted to continue its support of Upstream, the technology developed to give brokers and agents a better way to manage their listing data and direct its distribution to MLSs, vendors, and third-party listing aggregators.

The vote authorizes NAR to fund $1.5 million for administrative costs through 2018, as well as up to $7.5 million to support the deployment of the technology by REALTORS® Property Resource, the NAR subsidiary that developed the technology. Earlier in the week, Upstream announced a new "broker of choice" model, which will enable listing data to be input directly into Upstream or flow to Upstream from the MLS.

Here are highlights from the Directors Meeting  

CFPB Structure Change Sought

The Board supported a proposal to restructure the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by replacing the current single-director arrangement with a five-member board whose members would be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Under the proposal, no more than three CFPB board members would come from one political party. The existing independent agency structure and funding sources would remain unchanged.

ADA Lawsuits Should Be Last Resort

The Board called for legislation requiring that parties who claim violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) notify the person or organization responsible for the alleged violation and give them an opportunity to remedy it before filing a lawsuit.

FHA Fund Calculations

The Board supported the exclusion of reverse mortgages when HUD calculates the minimum capital reserve required for the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF). While the FHA's insurance program for single-family mortgages is growing and financially stable, the FHA's Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program has been unstable. Keeping the programs separate would help provide a more realistic picture of the FHA's financial health.

Opposition to Rent Control

In response to the growing number of rent control programs that have been implemented by states and localities in recent years, the Board adopted an updated rent control policy statement to replace the one that has been in place since 1997. The new statement reiterates NAR's position that government programs that limit rent increases or impose other rent-related restrictions on landlords unfairly restrict private property rights. Under the policy, NAR encourages local and state associations to oppose legislative measures that allow for rent control or rent stabilization programs.

Legal Assistance

The board allocated $500,000 to support two state REALTOR® associations and two other organizations in the following legal cases:

A copyright-infringement suit filed by the California Association of REALTORS® against a website that has posted copyrighted CAR forms and refused to remove them.

A suit that an organization in Oregon intends to file against the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to the service's decision that FEMA's implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program violates the Endangered Species Act.

A suit filed against the city of Portland, Ore., seeking to invalidate an ordinance that requires landlords to provide relocation assistance to tenants in certain cases. NAR funds will be used to reimburse the Oregon Association of REALTORS® for expenses related to its support for the case.

A suit filed by a Guam organization claiming that the federal government's decision to sharply reduce the percentage of requests for H2B temporary worker visas it approves is arbitrary and harmful to Guam's economy.

MLS Policy Changes

The Board updated the NAR Lockbox Security Requirements to reflect technology changes, particularly the increasing use of mobile devices. Also, the Board approved the use of voice-activated services to deliver IDX listing information. Finally, the Board changed the model IDX rules to require that listing brokers be identified in all IDX displays; previously, listing broker attribution was optional.

Realtors Property Resource reported that about 98 percent of multiple-listing services now provide data to RPR, according to RPR CEO Dale Ross. About 700,000 real estate professionals now use RPR on an annual basis, and 158,000 "power users" tap the service regularly.

NAR dues will remain at $120 for 2018, with $40 of this amount allocated for REALTOR® Party programs. The association membership stands at 1.23 million, and NAR forecasts 1.24 million members in 2018.

In conclusion, the above is only a small report on the activities and information that I was able to gather from attending the NAR meeting this year.                                                                                      

Respectfully submitted,

David W Freitag RCE, CEO

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