REALTORS® from across the nation will gather this week in Washington, D.C. for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Midyear Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo. This is a great opportunity for members to help advocate for important policy issues and participate in a three-day real estate summit while also attending NAR business meetings. Legislative advocacy is a key component of NAR’s Midyear Meetings. Many of the REALTORS® in attendance at these meetings come to meet with their U.S. representatives and senators and other key government officials and attend specialized briefings.

For local board leaders, this is definitely one of the highlights to serving in a leadership role to be able to attend these meetings and tour the NAR office located within the shadow of Capitol Hill.

With the tax credit ending, NAR now focuses its energies in the mortgage finance realm, pushing for strengthening the FHA mortgage insurance program to make permanent the higher FHA loan limits. NAR also is lobbying for legislation to restructure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a manner that provides the federal government a continued role in the secondary market in order to ensure mortgage liquidity in all markets. NAR also is calling for restoration of the functioning of commercial financial markets—supporting HR 3380 that would increase the cap on credit union commercial lending and urging the Federal Reserve and Treasury to encourage banks to provide term extensions for performing properties.

The federal government must have a continued key role in the secondary mortgage market in order to ensure there is capital for mortgage lending in all mortgage markets. NAR supports HR 2483, the “Increasing Homeownership Opportunities Act” to make the current GSE and FHA loan limits permanent.

The IAR local Government Affairs Directors and local federal political coordinators are scheduling meetings with every member of the Illinois Congressional Delegation to make them aware of the activity in local markets and to share NAR’s political agenda.

“Additionally, Illinois would like the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and HUD to consider increasing the conforming FHA and GSE loan limits for high-cost, sub-areas in the state of Illinois,” said Sharon Gorrell, IAR Housing Policy Advisor.  In these congressional meetings, Illinois REALTORS® will be sharing information relative to this initiative and rationale for increasing loan limits in Illinois.

“The loan limits have not been raised in Illinois despite the fact that select areas in Chicagoland have very high housing costs. The entire northern Illinois region is $417,000 for GSE conforming loans and $410,000 for FHA loans. In higher cost areas of the city of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, this has the potential of stymieing homeownership opportunities for thousands of homeseekers. Due to diminished liquidity and less favorable lending terms in the jumbo mortgage markets, higher agency lending limits are necessary in order to expand product options for both new home purchases and refinance of existing mortgages,” Gorrell said.

An NAR-sponsored Real Estate Summit over the course of the week will examine the current state of mortgage finance, global implications, the role of the federal government, and policy and economic solutions. This three-day event will feature industry experts, political leaders and media figures for a discussion of today’s real estate marketplace and the role of the federal government, policy and economic solutions improving recovery.

At the Economic Issues and Residential Real Estate Business Trends Forum to be held on Thursday, Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s, will share the stage with Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR where they both will address “The U.S. Housing Market: Is Recovery in Sight?” An interesting combination considering it was not too long ago when Zandi was often a vocal critic of the housing industry presenting his all-too-often pessimistic prediction of the dismal housing recession and its relative cause and blame. With home sales on the upswing Zandi, of late, has been a bit more optimistic with his commentary related to the housing industry–enough now for him to be on stage at a national meeting with Yun. Yun and Zandi will share insights, perspectives and forecasts regarding residential real estate and the economy and the future of the U.S. mortgage finance delivery system. I’ll be sure to have a seat in the house.