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NAR Leadership in the News: Week of November 17, 2014

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 15:28

NAR and the Leadership Team made news this week on a variety of issues, including advocacy, professionalism, the new Code of Excellence, housing market conditions, the FHA, and net neutrality.

Chris Polychron: Advocating for Brokers in 2015
Steve A. Brown, NAR’s Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations asks questions to Chris Polychron, a Realtor® for 27 years, who will bring his straight-shooting, passionate brand of advocacy for brokers and Realtors to his role as 2015 NAR President.

FHA actuarial report is a Rorschach test for Washington players
The National Association of Realtors is generally pleased with the implications of the FHA actuarial report and wants the premiums reduced as well.

Housing agency won’t need another bailout
“By lowering its fees, FHA could provide greater access to homeownership for historically underserved groups,” said NAR President Chris Polychron. During the past four years, the percentage share of first-time buyers using FHA-backed loans shrank to 39 percent from 56 percent. “A shift in policy would also increase the volume of borrowers acquiring FHA-backed loans and contribute to the solvency of the MMI Fund,” Polychron said.

Big News for Existing Home Sales: 1st Annual Gain of 2014
“Although distressed sales are trending downward, there are still areas (such as judicial states Florida, Maryland and New York) plagued by foreclosures, and homeowners faced with the awful choice between a tax bill they are unable to pay and losing their home,” says NAR President Chris Polychron. He said that the NAR was continuing to urge the U.S. House to vote on “The Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act.” Passage would extend an expired provision that exempts forgiven mortgage debt from being taxed as income.

REALTORS raise the bar with new code of excellence
“Times have changed, people have changed, and as a result, we as realtors always feel like we need to stay ahead of the curve in what we do as an association,” said Chris Polychron, NAR’s newly installed president. “We felt like we did need additional education and training to go along with our Code of Ethics, and these new policies get at doing just that.”

Why net neutrality matters to real estate
“If the FCC’s proposal went into effect today, new and small businesses, who cannot afford to pay the fees, would instantly be put at a competitive disadvantage,” NAR President Chris Polychron said in a statement.

Chris Polychron on FHA MMI Fund, 2015 Priorities

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 14:27

Housingwire has a story on the Federal Housing Administration and the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund for single-family programs. According to the agency’s report, the financial health of the regulating agency improved dramatically but that it still has a way to go with its finances. The FHA boasted a $21 billion improvement since late 2012, after implementing a series of financing changes.

2015 NAR President Chris Polychron is quoted:

 “Now that the MMI Fund is on a path to recovery, NAR urges FHA to lower its annual mortgage insurance premiums and eliminate the requirement that mortgage insurance be held for the life of the loan. Achieving homeownership has become more difficult with current FHA mortgage insurance premiums…NAR estimates that in 2013, nearly 400,000 creditworthy borrowers were priced out of the housing market because of high FHA insurance premiums. By lowering its fees, FHA could provide greater access to homeownership for historically underserved groups. To put it in perspective, over the past four years, the percent share of first-time buyers using FHA-backed loans shrank from 56% to 39%.”

The MMI Fund gained almost $6 billion in value in the past 12 months, printing now at $4.8 billion. This is a vast improvement from last year when it fell short by more than $1.3 billion.

In a separate story, Polychron discusses his 2015 presidential term with Steve A. Brown, NAR’s Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations. Among his priorities is data:

 “One of the areas I want to work on is making sure members have availability to big data and understand how to use it effectively. All REALTORS® must have good technology training so they can use data for the benefit of the consumer. In the past, we gave away our data and got no value for it. As we move forward as an industry, our members will continue to accumulate accurate, timely data and gather insight into properties by using a wide variety of sources. More than any other group, these efforts will steer consumers toward REALTORS®.”

Check out the full interview published RISMedia.

NAR Leadership In the News

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 16:06

NAR and the Leadership Team made news this week on a variety of issues, including increasing REALTOR® professionalism, expanding mortgage credit, and the News Corp acquisition of Move, operator of realtor.com.

11/14/2014
HousingWire
News Corp CEO Vows to Turbocharge realtor.com
“In partnership with the National Association of REALTORS® and its one million members, we look forward to turbo-charging realtor.com and making it the most popular and profitable property site in America,” said Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp.

11/11/2014
RISMedia

REALTOR® Changes Will Heighten Professionalism
“These policy changes will raise the whole bar professionally,” says Chris Polychron.

Inman News
NAR Won’t Rate Members or Impose New Standards of Entry
“The Code of Ethics is over a hundred years old. The way we sell real estate has changed and in order for us to remain at the heart of every deal REALTORS® need to adjust,” says Chris Polychron.

11/10/2014
Realuoso
Questions Answered About NAR’s New Code of Excellence & Standards for REALTOR® Ratings
“The Code of Ethics tells us what we should not be doing. The Code of Excellence is going to tell us what we should be doing,” says Steve Brown.

11/7/2014
National Mortgage News

GSEs’ Low-Down-Payment Loans Must Have Compensating Factors: Watt
“We were encouraged to hear Director Watt reiterate his position to make prudent, low-down-payment mortgage products available to consumers,” said NAR President Steve Brown.

 

 

 

Polychron, 2015 NAR Officers Installed in New Orleans

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 16:07

In New Orleans at the NAR Board of Directors meeting during the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo, 2014 President Steve Brown passed the gavel to Chris Polychron, installing the Hot Springs, Ark., REALTOR® as 2015 president of the National Association of REALTORS®, along with his leadership team.

Polychron has been a REALTOR® for 27 years and is an executive broker with 1st Choice Realty, specializing in both commercial and residential brokerage. Polychron has served on NAR’s Board of Directors since 2002, and was 2005 regional vice president for Region IX. He has served on numerous national committees, was the first Member Mobilization chair in 2008 and was a liaison to State and Political Issues in 2009.  Polychron was president of the Arkansas REALTORS® Association in 2003, Arkansas’ REALTOR® of the Year in 1996 and president of the Hot Springs Board of REALTORS® that same year.

Tom Salomone, a REALTOR® from Coral Springs, Fla., is the 2015 president-elect. He is a second-generation REALTOR® and broker/owner of Real Estate II. Salomone has been a REALTOR® for 38 years and serves as a member of NAR’s Executive Committee and on the newly appointed Corporate Investor Council. He has served on several national committees, was director of NAR’s REALTOR® Party Activities in 2012, and was 2007 regional vice president for Region V, serving Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Salomone was president of the Florida REALTORS® in 2003 and was Florida’s REALTOR® of the Year in 2005.

Bill Brown, a second-generation REALTOR® from Oakland, Calif., is the 2015 NAR first vice president. He has been a REALTOR® for more than 35 years, and is the founder of Investment Properties, a division of the family real estate business founded by his father, William H. Brown, in 1964.

Michael McGrew, a REALTOR® from Lawrence, Kan., is the 2015 NAR treasurer. A REALTOR® for nearly 30 years, he is the CEO/Chairman of McGrew Real Estate. McGrew was 2014 treasurer and 2013 vice-chair of the Finance Committee and has served on NAR’s Board of Directors for nine years.

Michael Ford is 2015 NAR vice president. He is a broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Heritage Homes in West Memphis, Ark. Ford is a long-standing member of NAR’s Board of Directors, having served since 1994. Ford is a member of the REALTORS® Political Action Committee Hall of Fame.

Charlie Oppler is also 2015 NAR vice president. Oppler has been a REALTOR® for more than 30 years and is CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. He has served on NAR’s Board of Directors since 2003.

In addition, NAR’s 2015 regional vice presidents are:

  • Thomas Riley, Bedford, N.H., Region I
  • Max Gurvitch, Brooklyn, N.Y., Region II
  • Brenda Small, Washington, D.C., Region III
  • Sandra O’Connor, Greensboro, N.C., Region IV
  • Dean Asher, Orlando, Region V
  • Beth Foley, Holland, Mich., Region VI
  • Sheryl Whitehurst, Peoria, Ill.., Region VII
  • Jeff Nelson,  Sioux Falls, S.D., Region VIII
  • Brian Jones, Pittsburgh, Kan., Region IX
  • Bill Jones, Temple, Texas., Region X
  • Linda Rheinberger, Las Vegas, Region XI
  • Dan Wagner, Billings, Mont., Region XII
  • Steve Goddard, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Region XIII

 

Standing Room Only at the St. Louis REALTORS® Broker Conference, Future Shock

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:12

In front of an audience of some 300 brokers at the St. Louis Association of REALTORS® Future Shock (#SLARshock14) event Oct. 16, NAR President-elect Chris Polychron enjoyed the opportunity to participate on a panel that included other industry and REALTOR® experts.  The question at hand: to syndicate or not to syndicate? The panel helped bring clarity to the ongoing syndication debate.  At the event, Chris reiterated the need for a Bill of Rights to help protect REALTOR® interests in listing data, saying “We must continue to stand up and remind everyone that the service we provide in accumulating property information is very valuable.” 

NAR President-elect Chris Polychron speaks at the St. Louis AOR event, Future Shock

 

“Every broker has a choice. They have models that can fit your choice. Take advantage of that.” – Chris Polychron, NAR #SLARshock14

— STL REALTORS® (@STLRealtors) October 16, 2014

 

The other panelists who participated were:

Russ Cofano | Senior VP of Industry Relations, Move, Inc.
Rene Galvan | Executive Vice President, HAR.com
Saul Klein | CEO, Point2 Technologies Inc.
Elizabeth Mendenhall | 2018 President, NAR
Chris Polychron | 2015 President, NAR
Joe Pryor | NAR MLS Committee Member
Paul Prince | President, MARIS
John Whitney | Director of Business Development, Trulia

More images and tweets from the event below…

 

Future Shock 2014

 

Future Shock at SLAR! Incredible discussion about syndication, Zillow, and the future of the industry. #SLARShock14

— Maureen McDonnell (@mem421) October 16, 2014

 

Full house future shock here at SLAR #slarshock14 pic.twitter.com/mnNKdc8Il9

— Carolyn Mantia (@carolynmantia) October 16, 2014

 

Panelists at Future Shock 2014

 

Elizabeth Mendenhall at Future Shock 2014

Steve Brown Hosts Election Preview

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 15:27

Last week, NAR President Steve Brown hosted the election preview webcast, “Getting Out The REALTOR® Vote.” The webcast looked at key races in both the House and Senate for the midterm elections, when turnout is traditionally lower and voter participation more urgent.

Joining Brown for the webcast were Jerry Giovaniello, NAR’s Chief Lobbyist and Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, as well as Scott Reiter, Shannon Burke, and April Brown from the political field team.

Some of the issues covered were:

  • The process that NAR uses to select candidates its supports
  • How NAR’s participation in individual races affects RPAC fundraising
  • What independent expenditures are and why they are used in certain races

Remember, REALTORS® should go to the polls on November 4, before joining NAR in New Orleans for the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo!

If you need to register to vote, or if you are already registered and need to find your polling place, please visit www.realtoractioncenter.com/pollfinder.

Chris Polychron Interviewed by Washington Post About REALTOR® Safety

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 10:58

In an interview with The Washington Post, 2014 President Elect Chris Polychron discusses risks REALTORS® face on the job, and emphasizes safety training going forward.

The association’s incoming president, Chris Polychron, pledged in an interview with The Post on Tuesday that he would make safety a top priority when he is installed in his post in November.

“My heart goes out to her family, friends, her co-workers,” said Polychron, himself a longtime Arkansas real estate agent. “The sad part is that when you work in real estate, it does involve risk. But as an industry we have got to promote better safety awareness.”

Polychron said making training mandatory might require convincing licensing boards in all 50 states to make changes to their rules. At the association, he said, amending ethics regulations to include safety requirements would require a board vote.

“Is it worth it if it saves one life? Absolutely,” he said.

 

 

 

 

Statement From NAR 2014 President Elect Chris Polychron on Beverly Carter Tragedy:

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 12:39

“As both a REALTOR® and an Arkansan, I am saddened by this morning’s news of Beverly Carter’s untimely death. My heart goes out to her family, her friends, her co-workers, and everyone whose life Beverly touched in her 49 years with us.

Working in real estate involves risk and, unfortunately, that risk takes many forms. As an industry, we collectively work very hard to promote safety awareness among our members. We are fully committed to educating REALTORS® about potential threats and providing them with resources to protect themselves.

I urge all REALTORS® to honor Beverly Carter by keeping safe and looking out for each other.”

***

The Arkansas REALTORS® Association is collecting donations in Beverly Carter’s name through their Hearts & Homes program. For more information, visit arkansasrealtors.com.

NAR’s REALTOR® Safety resources include articles and blog posts, presentations and videos, webinars and training courses, and tools at realtor.org/safety.

News Corp To Acquire Move, Inc.

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 09:50

News Corp is staking a claim in the online real estate world, and betting on the REALTOR® brand. From REALTOR® Magazine:

The global media and information services company that owns such venerated titles as The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s announced Monday its intent to purchase Move Inc., operator of realtor.com®.

The company is News Corp, a top-in-class media and publishing business with experience in real estate through its newspapers and its majority ownership of the REA Group Ltd, the leading Australian residential property website, which also has a presence in Europe and Asia. With Monday’s announcement, News Corp made clear its intent to plant a major stake in the U.S. online real estate space. And the company is putting its considerable weight behind the REALTOR® brand.

“This partnership will help shape the future of real estate,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Steve Brown. “News Corp’s ability to reach and engage consumers, combined with realtor.com®’s quality content and the real insights REALTORS® provide will transform the current landscape.”

 

5 Reasons to Attend the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 16:22

Join us November 7-10 in the Big Easy, New Orleans, for the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo!

Over 17,000 of your REALTOR® colleagues will be there. Why should YOU attend?  Industry trends? Best practices? Great city with even better entertainment?

2014 NAR President Steve Brown shares his top 5 reasons for heading to the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

See the full lineup of events at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo

Check out great rates on hotels

Steve Brown Speaks at Housing Summit

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 09:30

This week, 2014 NAR President Steve Brown joined hundreds of private-sector experts, elected officials, scholars, and industry leaders gathered in Washington, DC to discuss and debate America’s housing policy. Presented by the Bipartisan Policy Center, Housing America’s Future: New Directions for National Policy 2014 Housing Summit focused on three key themes: housing finance reform, affordable rental housing, and homeownership.

Brown joined six other panelists for the session “Why is it So Difficult for Creditworthy Borrowers to Secure a Mortgage?” to discuss the state of credit and lending in the U.S. Questions for the panel centered the current regulatory market, how it impacts homeownership among different populations, and the effect of housing policy on a community’s overall strength and sustainability.

New HUD Secretary Julian Castro headlined the event with a closing keynote address. Secretary Castro appeared with Steve Brown as the first guest of NAR’s new webinar series, Conversations with Real Insight.

 

 

NAR Leadership Team Hits the Road

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 08:00

Coming off the Leadership Summit last month in Chicago, and with the summer coming to a close, NAR leadership will be hitting the road this fall. Promoting the critical role REALTORS® play as the first point of contact with consumers, board members will highlight efforts to strengthen communities at more than a dozen state and local conferences and events in September and October.

NAR President Steve Brown will discuss the Core Standards with Dayton Board of Realtors AE Gavin Blair at his home state association—the Ohio Association of REALTORS® conference in Cleveland, Ohio. NAR President-Elect Chris Polychron returns to Chicago one month after delivering a well-received speech at the Leadership Summit to install Jim Kinney as President of the Illinois Association of REALTORS®.

Here’s a partial list of upcoming events across the country, with others still being added:

SEPTEMBER

Illinois AoR Inaugural Installation  (Chris Polychron)

Ohio AoR Annual Convention (Steve Brown)

Maryland AoR Conference and Expo (Joanne Poole)

Convention of the Dakotas (Chris Polychron)

Northern Kentucky AoR 100th Celebration (Steve Brown)

Arkansas AoR Annual Convention (Chris Polychron)

Montana AoR Fall Biz Meeting & Conference (Chris Polychron)

Georgia AoR Annual Conference & Expo (Tom Salomone)

Iowa AoR Annual Convention (Steve Brown)

 

OCTOBER
Alabama AoR Annual Convention (Steve Brown)

Michigan AoR Convention & Expo (Chris Polychron)

Idaho AoR Business Conference (Bill Brown)

Maine AoR Annual Convention & Trade Show (Steve Brown)

Colorado AoR Convention (Steve Brown)

Connecticut AoR Leadership Conference (Chris Polychron)

 

In addition to the state and regional meetings, NAR President Steve Brown will be appearing at such events as the Bipartisan Housing Summit in Washington D.C.

Conversations with Real Insight Launches with Secretary Julian Castro

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 10:08

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

I’m excited to announce the launch of our new campaign, Conversations with Real Insight. This new initiative is a series of live and online events that feature REALTORS®, policymakers, and various industry leaders who will discuss the important issues affecting real estate today.

Our first guest was Julián Castro, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

 

Watch the Conversation with Real Insight with Secretary Julián Castro now.

During our conversation, Secretary Castro and I discussed a number of topics:
• How the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and HUD are instituting policies to help make the dream of homeownership a reality for Americans.
• The impact of access to credit, mortgage insurance premiums, and strict and costly condo regulations.
• How to ensure further funding for housing counseling at every turn in the home buying process.
• Making sure that programs like HAWK (Homeowners Armed With Knowledge) continue to grow, expanding the pool of qualified buyers.

The conversation with Secretary Castro drew close to 1,000 registrants, as well as questions on Twitter through the #RealInsightNAR hashtag.

I was impressed by Secretary Castro’s knowledge of the issues and his ability to understand and communicate the complex issues our industry faces. I’m really looking forward to more of these Conversations, knowing that they create an exciting platform for our members and consumers to engage in important dialogue with industry leaders.

August Recess Isn’t Slowing Down NAR

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 13:47

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

Congress has adjourned for the rest of the summer, but that isn’t stopping REALTORS® from staying in touch with our representatives. NAR’s hardworking Federal Political Coordinators are meeting with Congress in their home districts.

The meetings are focused on two legislative priorities vital to NAR members and consumers – reinstating mortgage debt cancellation and reauthorizing terrorism risk insurance for businesses. NAR President Steve Brown provides the latest on both of these issues in the video below.

August Recess Isn’t Slowing Down NAR

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 12:15

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

Congress has adjourned for the rest of the summer, but that isn’t stopping REALTORS® from staying in touch with our representatives. NAR’s hardworking Federal Political Coordinators are meeting with Congress in their home districts.

The meetings are focused on two legislative priorities vital to NAR members and consumers – reinstating mortgage debt cancellation and reauthorizing terrorism risk insurance for businesses. NAR President Steve Brown provides the latest on both of these issues in the video below.

Fix the Cap

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 10:05

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

Because of NAR’s efforts and the REALTOR® Party‘s diligence, I am pleased to report that the United States House of Representatives passed the Mortgage Choice Act this past month. This bill would return many options to consumers as they shop for mortgages and other settlement services.

As a broker with affiliated companies, I know first hand how the current definition of points and fees for affiliated services in the qualified mortgage regulation has limited consumer options and healthy competition.

The opponents of the service fee cap reform say that the cap protects the consumer. This argument is based on assumptions that simply find no merit in practice. Rather the current cap can force consumers to use less than desirable title and insurance providers, at rates and/or services not as good as can be offered by an affiliate service provider.

The bill passed by the House would end the current 3% cap on fees and points paid to joint venture services and bring them under similar rules applicable to non affiliated services, such as title and insurance. Under the Mortgage Choice Act, affiliated and non affiliated service providers are treated the same, while still protecting borrows from risky loan products.

We applaud the House for listening to the concerns of consumers by passing this important piece of legislation. Now the Senate must take action.

Thank you to all — both our professional lobbying staff and our members who communicated with Congress about this legislation.

We will keep you posted on the progress of the bill.

A Nation that Captured a Dream

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 14:22

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, this July 4th, a new nation was conceived, different from all others — a nation that could and would capture the imagination of the world for centuries to come…a nation that captured a dream.

As REALTORS®, we have dedicated our professional lives to helping those around us help achieve one part of the dream, the right to own property. But today, helping our fellow Americans achieve that dream is not easy.

Facing a less than robust economy, lending restrictions and growing concerns in regards to both regulatory and legislative reform, our work is challenging. It requires persistent, ongoing effort to protect the right of property ownership, and to ensure access to achieve property ownership. But I believe with all my heart, that it is our American duty to do so.

As REALTORS®, we may not serve in uniform but we serve America and her people in a profound way.

This July 4th I hope all of us would feel a sense of pride in our work as REALTORS®, and feel a sense of duty in promoting and protecting that which our forefathers 238 years ago envisioned as one of the key elements of this new nation. In doing so, we will be able to help generations of future Americans realize an important part of that “American” dream.

Have a great 4th!

Yes to GSE Reform

Tue, 06/10/2014 - 07:52

 

By 2014 President Steve Brown

 

NAR recognizes that the current system for secondary mortgages is unsustainable. We fully support moving forward with legislative reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. NAR, however, insists than any specific legislative proposals must protect the interests of all consumers.

 

That’s why we created the Housing Finance Work Group.  It will examine the reform bill introduced by Senators Johnson and Crapo.  The Work Group members represent a broad sector of our association’s membership, including those who are concerned that the current legislation will have a negative impact on underserved communities. 

 

It is vital that we have many voices in this discussion so as to develop policies that have wide support from our membership.  The Work Group met in April to review the pending legislation and they already have begun to develop policy recommendations for our Leadership Team.  

 

As the Work Group re-affirmed, NAR believes the secondary mortgage market must be reformed to protect taxpayers, yet reform must also guarantee that the government plays a role in ensuring access to credit during all economic conditions.

 

Therefore, we urge lawmakers to move forward on comprehensive, bipartisan legislation that will protect both taxpayers and the flow of capital to our markets including a 30-year fixed rate mortgage product.  

 

We believe the bill introduced by Senators Johnson and Crapo is a solid starting point.  It phases out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but retains the federal government as an insurer of last resort, much like the FDIC is the insurer of last resort for troubled banks.

 

The bill continues the current conforming loan limits and a lower down payment for first-time homebuyers.  It also ensures that private investors have “skin in the game” and would bear their share of any losses.

 

We do remain concerned that the Johnson-Crapo’s proposal may raise overall mortgage costs for consumers, and this legislation could lead to a market dominated by large financial institutions.  NAR strongly supports equal and competitive access for financial institutions of all sizes.

 

I will have more to report in a few weeks about the progress of our Work Group and an update on the legislative discussions.

Progress on the 3% Cap

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 10:39

NAR President Steve Brown talks about a positive development on NAR’s concerns over how the 3% cap on points and fees in the qualified mortgage (QM) rule has been interpreted.

 

NAR Presents Four Action Items to FEMA

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:55

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

With the passage of the NAR-supported Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act in early April, REALTORS® were able to help bring property buyers and owners relief from exorbitant rate shocks and potentially inaccurate rate quotes that were causing uncertainty in the real estate market.

But, the story doesn’t end there.  In fact, that is only the first half.  Now, the new legislation must be implemented and there are both concerns and questions that remain unanswered.

Last week, I met with David Walker. He is a Director of the National Flood Insurance Program at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

We discussed four critical issues that need to be implemented immediately because of their importance to our members and property owners.

Implement Rate Relief

The first issue dealt with immediate and desperately-needed rate relief to home buyers by preventing an immediate jump to full-risk premiums at the time of purchase. Buyers of property will be allowed to “assume” the policies and current rates of sellers. However, to deliver this relief, FEMA must act immediately to implement this provision. I asked the director when FEMA will issue the appropriate instructions and guidance to “Write Your Own” insurance companies allowing for the assumption of current rates and policies.

Deliver Refunds

The second issue we discussed was the refund provision. It is vital that refunds to property owners who paid the full actuarial premium, between July 2012 and when this new legislation was passed, happen as soon as possible.

Establish Flood Insurance Advocate

The third issue we discussed was the establishment of an office of the Flood Insurance Advocate within FEMA to help consumers with concerns related to flood insurance rates, quotes and appealing flood zone determinations.  This office is an idea created by NAR, and we were thrilled it made into the final passage of the bill.  Now, we want to make sure the office is established and fully funded.

Create Technical Mapping Advisory Council

The final issue requires that FEMA implement a Technical Mapping Advisory Council. It is critical to ensure the flood maps are accurate. I asked the director if they have developed a timeline to re-establish the Technical Mapping Council so it can begin reviewing and improving the accuracy of FEMA’s flood maps.

As the meeting progressed, I was struck by the fact that Mr. Miller seemed to be that rare federal government official who had a grasp of how well-intentioned policies enacted in Washington, D.C. could have negative impacts on real estate markets across the nation.

The challenge, Mr. Miller said, is to implement the law as required by Congress, while mitigating the impacts on people who can least afford expensive flood insurance premiums – low and middle-income property owners.

The other good news coming out of the meeting is that the director told me that FEMA understood the urgency to implement these provisions and are working “aggressively” to develop and circulate the appropriate guidance and information.

Still from our perspective, this new legislation does not solve the challenges created by the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program in 2012.  It only gradually phases in rate increases; it does not prevent them from occurring.

Because this is still a continuing issue for our members and consumers, I recently created a President’s Advisory Group to develop further recommendations about how NAR should proceed as the changes are implemented.  Our concern is simple;  what will be the impact on the value and marketability of properties that require flood insurance  at the new rate premiums?

I promise we will keep you updated on further developments as they come out of FEMA and the President’s Advisory Group.  But, for now, I am pleased to report the good news that FEMA heard our concerns and is working hard to resolve them.

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