Monday, May 18, 2009

What's New in Washington DC

Bay East Goes to Washington D.C.: With the federal government deeply involved in trying to jump-start the real estate market, the timing could not have been better to take our concerns to Washington D.C. A team of Bay East REALTORS® including President Pat Huffman, President-Elect Pam Winterbauer and treasurer Otto Catrina joined federal political coordinators Dorothy Jackson and Kevin Brown as REALTORS® from across the country descended on the nation's capitol as part of NAR's mid-year meeting.

Our visit to Capitol Hill was welcomed by elected officials and their staff looking for ideas to help housing and the economy. The Bay East team was ready to provide the REALTOR® perspective. On Wednesday, May 13, they met with staff members from Congress members Barbara Lee and Pete Stark. On Thursday, they met personally with Congressman Jerry McNerney. Our message focused on federal policies that impact home purchase financing; energy efficiency; commercial lending and health care reform.

Home Purchase Financing: Our team urged the East Bay congressional delegation to make the 2008 conforming loan limits permanent, extend the $8,000 Federal Tax Credit and make it available to all home buyers.

Energy Efficiency: We explained why proposed federal legislation that would require an energy audit at the point-of-sale would not accomplish the goal of making homes more energy efficient. Instead, we're supporting another bill that offers incentives to homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements.

Commercial Real Estate Financing: While the nation has been dealing with the fallout from sub-prime mortgages and ARMs resetting, commercial real estate financing also is at risk. Specifically, many loans for commercial real estate are based on very short terms and the lack of available credit means limited refinancing options. The Bay East team explained that the short, three-year term of the Term Asset-backed Securities Loans that help secure commercial mortgage-backed securities need to be extended.

Health Care Reform: The REALTOR® position on health care issues is to make sure small businesses and independent contractors are included in federal plans for making health care available and affordable.

All of the elected officals and staff we met with were receptive to our concerns and issues. NAR's lobbying team in Washigton D.C. welcomed our participation in their daily activies and encouraged REALTORS at the local level to help make sure Congress is aware that we're paying attention.