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National Issues - NAR National Association of Realtors
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As the largest professional trade association in the United States, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® represents more than 1.1 million residential and commercial REALTORS® involved in all facets of the industry as brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers and counselors. NAR advocates policy initiatives that will result in the continued creation of a fundamentally sound and dynamic U.S. real estate market fostering vibrant communities in which to live and work.

NAR Issue Brief: 2011 Public Policy Priorities > (PDF: 161K)
Download the printer-friendly version > (PDF: 2.1M)

TAXATION

Political observers agree that significant federal income tax legislation is inevitable in the next few years. Some of the factors driving the potential for major tax changes include the continued expansion of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) — rapid growth in unfunded liabilities facing Federal entitlement programs, and the application of so-called “paygo” budget rules in which revenue-losing tax legislation must be offset by either reductions in direct spending or by tax increases. As a result, a variety of tax laws, including those affected by commercial and residential real estate, could be reviewed with a focus on raising revenue.

  • Mortgage Interest Deduction: NAR opposes any changes that would limit or undermine current law.
  • Capital Gains Exemption: NAR opposes any changes to the capital gains exemption on the sale of a home.
  • Estate Tax Reform: NAR supports repeal of the estate tax but opposes the portion of the repeal that requires the use of so-called “carryover basis.” If the estate tax were to be revised, NAR supports the lowest possible rate (but in no event a rate higher than the maximum individual tax rates) and a substantial exclusion.
  • Depreciation — Tenant Improvements: NAR supports efforts to establish a permanent rule that more accurately reflects the depreciable lives of buildings and to conform amortization periods for tenant improvements more closely to the term of the lease.

REAL ESTATE FINANCE

The persistence and severity of America’s housing and mortgage finance crises have taken many observers by surprise, prompting urgency regarding viable and necessary solutions. Delinquencies are surging, home prices remain flat or in decline, and foreclosure rates continue to rise. Federal policymakers are poised to take action weighing a number of proposals aimed at laying the groundwork for healthier housing and mortgage markets in the future.

  • Government-Sponsored Enterprises: NAR is recommending that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be converted into government-chartered, non-shareholder owned authorities that are subject to tighter regulations on product, revenue generation and usage, and retained portfolio practices in a way that ensures they accomplish their mission and protect the taxpayer.
  • Mortgage Loan Limits: NAR supports making the current higher loan limits and formula permanent.
  • Federal Housing Administration Programs: NAR is a strong supporter of the single- and multi-family programs administered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
  • NAR Credit Policy: NAR is calling on the credit and lending industries and federal regulators to reassess the entire mortgage lending policy structure and look for ways to increase the availability of credit to qualified borrowers who are good credit risks.
  • Short Sales: NAR continues to push the lending industry to expedite short sales.
  • Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA): NAR supports HUD’s new RESPA rule in general. NAR supports transparency in the home buying process and clear disclosures to consumers of loan terms and the fees charged by settlement service providers. NAR supports better guidance from HUD but specifically rejects HUD’s contention that the marketing of home warranties is a mere referral.

ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

NAR’s commitment to the environment and energy efficiency is evident in its programs to train Green REALTORS®, support Smart Growth initiatives in communities nationwide as well as its Washington, D.C. office building, the first privately owned commercial building in the nation’s capital to be LEED Silver certified. Development of public policy should be guided by market principles and voluntary incentives, which preserve private property rights, ensure access to affordable property insurance, and maintain housing affordability and availability. Because environmental protection and economic growth are not mutually exclusive, those policies should not erect barriers to the ability to own, use or transfer property.

  • National Flood Insurance Program: NAR is recommending renewing and strengthening the long-term viability of the federal flood insurance program including comprehensive coverage for non-primary residences (e.g., rental properties and second homes) and reforms to provide “full risk” premiums for most repetitive loss structures in many states. NAR also supports funding to update and improve the accuracy of flood maps, which are the cornerstone of NFIP and are used to determine which properties require flood insurance.
  • Natural Disaster Policy: NAR supports a federal program that promotes the availability and affordability of property insurance nationwide and coordinates the mitigation of property against natural disasters, as well as post-disaster assistance.
  • Energy Efficiency and Climate Change
    • NAR Supports: Improving energy efficiency through voluntary incentives in lieu of individual building mandates. Commercially reasonable approaches that advance market and smart-growth principles of protecting private property rights and maintaining real estate affordability and availability. Additionally, NAR supports educating property owners and consumers about the benefits of energy efficiency.
    • NAR Opposes: Requirements that impose undue economic burdens on property owners or managers; triggering such provisions at the time when real property is sold; and expanded application of existing laws/regulations that are not suited to address climate change.

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

Having a sound and well-functioning commercial and multifamily real estate sector is critical to our country’s economic growth and development, and to millions of U.S. businesses of all sizes that provide local communities with jobs and services. The overall economic downturn and crisis in the broader financial markets is directly impacting not only the fundamentals of commercial real estate finance, but also the outlook for recovery.

  • Commercial Real Estate Lending: NAR supports protecting and enhancing the flow of capital to commercial real estate. NAR believes Congress should consider legislation aimed at improving commercial real estate markets. These include increasing the cap on credit union member business lending (MBL) and improving lending access through the passage of the Small Business Lending Fund.

BUSINESS ISSUES & TECHNOLOGY

While the business of real estate has traditionally been regulated at the state level, NAR represents the interest of its members to ensure that federal legislation and regulations support or do not needlessly hinder the ability of REALTORS®, realty firms and REALTOR® associations to conduct business.

  • Data Security: REALTORS® strongly support efforts to protect their clients’ sensitive personal information but believe that any legislation must not overly burden small firms with limited resources. In addition, any federal data security legislation should not preempt state laws, which may offer state residents additional protection.
  • Broadband Access: Access to high-speed broadband is rapidly becoming an essential component of any community’s 21st Century economic infrastructure. As a result, REALTORS® support national broadband policies designed to provide all American communities with the affordable, high-capacity connectivity necessary to support today’s businesses and workforce. NAR believes that a variety of options should be considered to encourage broadband deployment, including action by both the private and public sectors.
  • Net Neutrality: The business of real estate is increasingly conducted online. Streaming video, virtual tours and voice-over-Internet-protocol are just some of the technologies that are commonly used by REALTORS® today. NAR believes that Internet users should be in control of what Internet content is accessed, the applications used and the legal devices that they choose to connect to the Internet. In addition, network providers should not be allowed to discriminate among Internet data transmissions on the basis of the source of the transmission as they regulate the flow of network content.


 

 

 
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