Housing and private property issues were top of mind for more than 8,500 Realtors who convened in Washington, D.C., this week during the 2014 Realtor Party Convention & Trade Expo.
As president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, I was privileged to be among my fellow Realtors from across the country who attended the meetings and visited lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
A number of critical residential and commercial real estate issues took center stage at this year’s meetings. Sessions focused on pressing topics such as protecting real estate-related tax policies, reforming the secondary mortgage market, and the accessibility of mortgage credit and loan programs.
As the leading advocate for homeownership and real estate issues, Realtors want to make sure these critical issues are recognized by our country’s leaders and remain a priority for them. Homeownership and commercial investment play a critical role in the long- and short-term health of this nation.
While in Washington, we met with the staff of Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Capitol Hill to influence public policy decisions that will directly affect consumers’ ability to buy, sell and own real estate. We also urged Rep. Capps' staff to reinstate the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, which expired at the end of 2013.
The expired tax provision provided relief to individuals in many other states following a loan modification, short sale or foreclosure. With proposed legislation being debated in Congress this term, that could have a significant impact on consumers and the real estate market.
It was important for Realtors to meet with lawmakers. Through the strength of the Realtor Party (non-partisan), we clearly conveyed our position on key issues that affect home buyers, sellers and real estate investors right here in Santa Barbara.
Throughout the week, Realtors participated in sessions with a number of government officials and industry experts who addressed many of today’s critical housing, mortgage finance and real estate investment issues. During one session, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a blueprint for greater consumer access to credit through a new FHA housing counseling program. Donovan said the agency is taking additional steps to expand access to mortgage credit for underserved borrowers.
Realtors also heard from political strategists David Plouffe and Steve Schmidt, who previewed the upcoming midterm elections, providing insights into the issues currently being debated in Congress and their impact on Realtors and the real estate industry. News anchor and political commentator Chris Matthews discussed the divided Congress and the Obama administration’s second-term agenda.
Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move Inc. (operator of Realtor.com), shared his vision for how the company will continue to provide consumers with the best content, tools and professional expertise they need to find a home through the site and by working with a Realtor. National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun shared his latest outlook for the economy and residential and commercial markets. He expects positive market improvements throughout 2014.
We also had the chance to explore the latest industry innovations and stay up to date on how new products are transforming the real estate business. More than 100 exhibitors showcased the newest real estate commodities and services for the industry during the Trade Expo.
— Ed Fuller is a real estate broker with San Roque Realty Inc. and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact him at [email protected] or 805.687.1551. The opinions expressed are his own.