Last week, nearly 9,000 REALTORS® descended on Washington, D.C. for the 2023 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings. We spent six days discussing the most pressing issues affecting the real estate industry and met with members of Congress and their staff at the inaugural REALTOR® National Block Party, which 95% of Capitol Hill offices registered to attend! Nationals Park became a sea of blue that demonstrated the unmatched impact REALTORS® have in their communities.
At the Advocacy Scoop on May 7, members got an inside take on how NAR is working right now to advance multiple issues before Congress. NAR Chief Advocacy Officer Shannon McGahn gave an overview of the advocacy team’s overall mission, saying, “We have spent the last several years modernizing our advocacy efforts. We have the programs, people, and policies to achieve our goals.”
“How do we adjust our efforts and our team when we have a divided country? We don’t – we remain nimble and maintain relationships across the aisle,” McGahn continued.
She went on to highlight accomplishments from this year, such as the government funding bill that included many REALTOR priorities, the SECURE Notarization Act’s passage in the House, several regulatory wins, fighting for private property rights, standing against the WOTUS rule, and advocating for our members against rent control proposals.
Only a couple days later, the FHFA announced another huge NAR advocacy win when it rescinded its proposed loan level pricing adjustment (LLPA) upfront fee on borrowers with debt-to-income ratios greater than 40 percent that was slated to go into effect August 1.
McGahn also outlined the four goals for NAR’s advocacy team in 2023: “Developing public policy roles and solutions; continuing to engage with our REALTOR family and friends; thinking modern [what does advocacy look like 10 years down the road]; and promotion of NAR products, research reports, and papers.”
Bryan Greene, vice president of policy advocacy, then moderated a policy panel with Evan Liddiard, director of federal tax policy, Dr. Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights, and Alexia Smokler, director of fair housing policy and programs.
Lautz opened the discussion by acknowledging “we’re in a very unique environment right now, and every single person in this room is in a very different real estate market. Some of you are seeing price gains in your market in double digits, which many of you in this room will say wow, we’re not seeing that at all.” She continued by highlighting that we don’t have enough inventory and the number of first-time homebuyers is at a 40-year-low. She ended her discussion on a positive note by citing Dr. Lawrence Yun, saying “he expects interest rates will tick down to the 5.8% range by the fourth quarter.”
Liddiard provided the stark reality of the inventory crisis “becoming one of the top domestic problems in our nation.” He provided examples of tax incentives that could increase supply: to nudge long-term owners to sell their homes [including increasing capital gains exclusion levels], to encourage the conversion of unused and underutilized commercial real estate into residential units, and to pass the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Improvement Act and the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.
Smokler touched on NAR’s research, Obstacles to Home Buying, which shows “the racial homeownership gap is actually bigger today than it was in 1968 [when we passed the Fair Housing Act], and that’s alarming to an association that wants to expand homeownership and expand the real estate market.”
She then addressed what can be done, and what NAR has been doing, to start closing this gap: pushing to reauthorize and increase funding for HUD fair housing enforcement programs, increasing the supply of affordable homes for purchase, continuously advocating for policies that increase access to mortgage finance [such as updated credit scoring models, special purpose credit programs, and down payment assistance for qualified buyers], and partnering with the Black Homeownership Collaborative, which aims to add 3 million net new Black homeowners by 2030.
The session closed with a discussion among NAR’s Government Advocacy team about their experiences working with Congress and how NAR remains the standard-bearer for advocacy in Washington, D.C. and around the country.
Read more about NAR’s legislative priorities at FlyIn.realtor.