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NAR Bus Tour Takes Home Ownership Issues Coast-to-Coast

Media Contact: Stephanie Singer / 202-383-1050 / Email

WASHINGTON (July 15, 2011) - As policymakers consider changes to government programs and incentives that could dramatically change the nature of home ownership in this country, the National Association of Realtors® is once again bringing these issues to people across the country with the second phase of the Home Ownership Matters Bus Tour.

“Home ownership is under attack, and we want to make sure that people understand what’s at stake,” said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “Whether you own a home today or want to own a home someday, it’s important to engage on these issues right now. With this bus tour, Realtors® hope to give people the opportunity and the resources to make their voices heard.”

The first phase of the Home Ownership Matters Bus Tour began in March in Chicago and continued across the country throughout that month, crossing 10 states and ending in the Upper Northwest. The second leg of the bus tour kicks off this weekend in Atlanta and will touch at least 33 states and the District of Columbia before wrapping up at the Realtors® Conference & Expo in Anaheim, Calif., November 10-14.

In the next few months, legislators and regulators will make a number of policy decisions that could affect how people buy, sell and own homes in the U.S. On August 1, the comment period will close on a proposed rule – Qualified Residential Mortgage rule – that would require most borrowers to come up with a 20-percent down payment. Borrowers with less than 20 percent down would have to choose between higher fees and rates – up to 3 percentage points more – or a 9-14 year delay while they save up the necessary down payment.

“NAR estimates that it would take 14 years for the typical American family to save enough money for a 20 percent down payment,” said Phipps. “Strong evidence shows that responsible lending standards and ensuring a borrower’s ability to repay have the greatest impact on reducing lender risk, and not high down payments.”

On September 30, FHA loan limits may be allowed to revert to 115 percent of an area’s median home price, down from a current 125 percent. Reverting to lower loan limits would impact 669 counties in 42 states and the District of Columbia, with an average loan limit reduction of more than $50,000.

“Reducing the current loan limits means that fewer people would have access to mortgage loans,” said Phipps. “In addition, the loans that would be available would also be more expensive, as many buyers would be forced into jumbo mortgages. Home owners could also have a tougher time selling their homes because there would be fewer buyers who qualify to purchase those properties.”

Ongoing news and information for the tour will be posted on HouseLogic at www.houselogic.com/bus. HouseLogic is a free source of information from NAR that helps home owners maintain and enhance the value of their homes and engage in issues that affect their local communities.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section.