The activities of the federal agencies and departments of the United States government permeate the business of real estate in a variety of ways. Whether the activity is issuing formal rules, pursuing an enforcement action, or engaging in industry supervision, the buying and selling of real estate is impacted by the actions of more than 25 federal and independent agencies and departments.
NAR tracks the activity of these agencies, focusing exclusively on issues affecting REALTORS®, their businesses, and their clients. In addition to being experts on matters ranging from banking regulation to environmental concerns, NAR staff also manage relationships with the agencies to ensure NAR member priorities are always carefully considered.
A list of agencies pertinent to REALTORS® can be found at http://narfocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/21/3180.pdf
The mission of the ASC is to ensure that real estate appraisers, who perform appraisals in real estate transactions that could expose the United States government to financial loss, are sufficiently trained and tested to assure competency and independent judgment according to uniform high professional standards and ethics.
The BCFP, formerly known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), regulates the offering and provision of consumer financial products or services under the federal consumer financial laws and educates and empowers consumers to make better informed financial decisions. REALTORS® interact with the BCFP with respect to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and real estate closings, as well as Know Before You Owe (KYBO or TRID).
The Copyright Office is responsible for administering a complex and dynamic set of laws, which include registration, the recordation of title and licenses, a number of statutory licensing provisions, and other aspects of the 1976 Copyright Act and the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
USDA programs and activities impact the real estate industry in two main areas. The Rural Housing Service (RHS) provides affordable housing opportunities to low- and moderate-income rural homebuyers. In addition, the Forest Service provides policies on wildfire management, land acquisition, recreational opportunities, and land management policies.
The DOC impacts REALTORS® through its activities in economic development, coastal zone management, and regulation of endangered fish species and other marine animals. These policies may have an impact on land use and development in coastal areas.
The DOD manages military bases across the nation and around the world. Any change to a military installation’s use can impact its surrounding community. REALTORS®interact and provide input with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission, during the base realignment process. They also work with the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) when communities are adversely impacted by base closures or realignments, base expansions, and contract or program cancellations.
DOD also houses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which is responsible for administering the wetlands permitting and regulatory program under the Clean Water Act.
DOE’s Building Technologies Program partners with states, industry, and manufacturers to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings and homes; as well as public-private partnerships that enhance energy efficiency and productivity in communities.
The Department of Health and Human Services oversees the implementation and enforcement of the nation’s laws governing health care, including the Affordable Care Act. In addition to substantial research conducted by HHS offices such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the agency’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid administers the Medicare program, which is the source of insurance coverage for 16 percent of NAR’s members.
DHS most directly impacts the real estate industry through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA is responsible for coordinating the federal response to floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural or man-made disasters, as well as providing disaster assistance to States, communities and individuals. FEMA also administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and programs that provide assistance for mitigating future damages from natural hazards. The NFIP also creates the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). The accuracy and timeliness of these maps is critical for the transaction of properties located in, or adjacent to, a floodplain.
HUD is the agency in charge of increasing homeownership opportunities, supporting community development, and increasing access to affordable rental housing and homeownership for low-income individuals. Programs under their jurisdiction include the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) mortgage insurance program, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and multifamily assisted housing programs, including housing vouchers. HUD also is responsible for implementing and enforcing the Fair Housing Act.
DOL administers a variety of federal labor laws, including those that guarantee workers’ rights to safe and healthful working conditions, a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay, unemployment insurance, and other income support. REALTORS®also interact with DOL with respect to independent contract status and association health plans.
The activities of the DOI have their greatest impact on the real estate industry through its ability to acquire property for wilderness, wildlife protection, and recreational purposes, and it is the administration of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These activities have far-reaching implications for private property rights.
The Department of Treasury has wide reaching implications for the real estate community as it administers regulations affecting U.S. economic and financial systems. REALTORS®are focused on a range of issues by this agency ranging from tax code interpretations and tax collection to supervision and enforcement over financial institutions, including anti-money laundering requirements and safety and soundness laws.
EPA’s rules and regulations impact the real estate industry in several ways. The most direct impact is its enforcement of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 as well as required disclosure of lead-based paint in sales and lease transactions involving pre-1978 residential properties. Other EPA issues that may impact REALTORS® and the real estate industry include wetlands, air quality, brownfields development, and general land use concerns
FHFA is the federal regulator charged with assuring safe and sound operation of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks. These entities provide crucial support for the housing and mortgage markets.
The FTC works to ensure that the nation’s markets are vigorous, efficient, and free of restrictions that harm consumers. FTC enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practices. The FTC’s rules and regulations primarily impact the real estate industry in the areas of privacy, data security, consumer protection, and telemarketing.
The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code, which contains the great majority of the federal tax laws in the U.S. Its duties also include assisting the Treasury Department in setting tax policy through regulations, which are designed to provide guidance to taxpayers in complying with the tax laws. IRS is also responsible for providing assistance to taxpayers and pursuing and resolving cases of erroneous or fraudulent tax filings.
USPTO is the federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. The USPTO advises the president of the United States, the secretary of commerce, and U.S. government agencies on intellectual property (IP) policy, protection, and enforcement; and promotes the stronger and more effective IP protection around the world.
The SBA is an independent agency that was established to aid, counsel, assist, and protect small businesses. The SBA is primarily a guarantor of loans made to small businesses. In some circumstances, it also makes loans to victims of natural disasters, facilitates government procurement contracts for small businesses, and assists businesses with management, technical and training issues.