ROBERTSDALE, Alabama - May 25, 2017 – On behalf of current and future home and property owners throughout the country, more than 9,600 REALTORS® traveled to Washington, D.C., in May to advance key real estate issues during the 2017 REALTOR® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.
Troy Wilson, Frank Malone, and Sheila Dodson of the Baldwin County Association of REALTORS® (BCAR) joined fellow REALTORS® from Alabama and across the nation to attend meetings and informational sessions, as well as meet with regulatory agency staff and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss and advocate real estate issues affecting their businesses, communities, and clients.
Attending REALTORS®, members of the National Association of REALTORS®, focused on several significant issues affecting the industry during the legislative-focused meetings, including flood insurance, tax reform and sustainable homeownership.
“The National Association of REALTORS® has a great influence in Washington, D.C., and their focus is to monitor legislation and its effect on real estate consumers and investors in the USA,” said Malone, 2017 BCAR Board of Directors President. “NAR does a very good job vetting the wide range of legislation that is important to homeownership, and is quick to oppose legislation that would hurt the consumer, or impede homeownership growth across the country.”
While in Washington, REALTORS® met with U.S. Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill to discuss and influence public policy decisions that directly affect consumers’ ability to own, buy, rent and sell residential and commercial real estate.
When speaking with U.S. Congressman Bradley Byrne, one of the main issues discussed was the urgent need to pass a multiyear reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program before it expires on Sept. 30. Additionally, REALTORS® urged the protection of sustainable homeownership by advocating for responsible reform of the secondary mortgage market, prohibiting the use of guarantee fees for any purposes other than credit-risk management, improving consumer protections for energy-efficiency improvement loans and tax reform.
“We had the pleasure of meeting with Congressman Byrne and got to share some NAR concerns relating to tax reform, flood insurance, and the 1031 tax deferred exchanges,” Malone said. “Congressman Byrne is very knowledgeable about the issues and is a strong supporter of REALTOR® issues, and a strong supporter of issues that encourage homeownership.”
As the leading advocates for real estate, it is important for REALTORS® to meet face to face with our nation’s representatives to make sure homeownership and commercial real estate remains top of mind, since these help to shape our communities and play crucial roles in the economic health of America.
“We discussed the importance of these topics, not just for our state, but the real estate market in general,” said Wilson, BCAR’s Board of Directors President-Elect. “We also got more insight on how the legislative process works.”
The legislative meetings included roundtable discussions with Presidents and President-Elects from boards throughout the United States.
“It was very insightful listening to the issues that other boards are facing, and it was also very helpful exchanging ideas,” Malone explained.
Wilson echoed Malone. He also explained that in regard to the National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization, Wilson and Malone learned about the system North Carolina has in place for its flood mapping.
“Its accuracy is 10-times what any other state is using, including Alabama’s standard flood maps,” Wilson said. “We learned how important that is for insurance pricing and premiums, and had conversations with Congressman Byrne about what could be done to help get the technology used in North Carolina here in Alabama.”
Attendees also heard from industry experts and leaders, including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, who spoke about the challenges facing potential homebuyers, including low home inventories, and tight mortgage credit. During the meeting, Carson confirmed that HUD is in “lock-step” with REALTORS® about an NAR-backed rule that would make it easier for consumers to buy a condominium with Federal Housing Administration-backed financing, which has been pending since September 2016. Carson agreed that this rule would “make a big difference to a lot of Americans.”
In addition, attendees heard from Fox News’ Chris Wallace and CNBC’s Ron Insana, who shared their insights on the administration’s agenda and other legislative and regulatory happenings in Washington; Mark Calabria, chief economist to Vice President Mike Pence, who said reversing weak productivity and the low labor force participation rate are necessary to boosting the economy; John Worth, senior vice president for Research and Investor Outreach, National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, who shared his perspectives on commercial market activity; Roy Wright, deputy associate administrator for Insurance and Mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Administration, who said that challenges remain in ensuring access to affordable flood insurance and a multi-year reauthorization of the NFIP is critical; and NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, who shared residential and commercial real estate market updates and forecasts for the remainder of 2017.
During the week, REALTORS® also participated in a series of on-site visits with regulatory agency staff at the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Treasury, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In addition to the informational legislative sessions and meetings with legislators, members had the opportunity to explore the latest industry innovations and receive up-to-date information on the newest products and services from more than 100 industry-leading companies that participated during the trade expo.
The Baldwin County Association of REALTORS® (BCAR) is a professional trade association supporting the success and advancement of over 1,700 REALTORS® in the Baldwin County area. BCAR supports members through professional education, peer networking, and MLS services. We work for the protection of private property ownership and promote the work of our members in the local community. REALTORS® are held to a high standard of conduct by their peers and the National Association of REALTORS® code of ethics.