WASHINGTON – Jan. 30, 2009 – According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the U.S. House of Representatives has taken a significant step toward economic recovery in passing H.R. 1, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“On behalf of NAR and its 1.2 million members, I’d like to thank Chairman Frank (D-Mass.), Chairman Rangel (D-N.Y.) and the House of Representatives for passing legislation that will help create market stability,” says NAR President Charles McMillan. “However, our work is far from finished and much more needs to be done in the coming days and weeks.”
Late last year, NAR presented Congress with its core principles for stabilizing the housing market to launch an economic recovery. In the current legislation, NAR strongly supports the provisions to reinstate the 2008 FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limit increases through 2009.
NAR also strongly supports eliminating the repayment requirement on the first-time home buyer tax credit. “This is critical to stimulating home sales and shrinking the housing inventory, which will in turn help stabilize home values,” McMillan says.
Although Realtors support these provisions, NAR says that a number of enhancements are needed to make them more effective. In a letter sent to Congress earlier this week, NAR encouraged Congress to make the loan limit increases permanent so that secure, affordable, safe financing is available for American families regardless of where they live. NAR is also pressing to expand the tax credit to all home buyers and extend the expiration date to Dec. 31, 2009.
Other provisions in the bill will help communities across the country, including the expansion of tax-exempt housing bonds, increased funding for rural housing loan programs, additional funding for neighborhood stabilization activities, more grants for low-income housing construction and rehabilitation, and energy efficiency incentives for housing.
“We think this bill is a great first step in helping our economy on the road to recovery,” says McMillan. “It is also important that Congress and the new administration refocus the use of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) dollars to add liquidity to the mortgage market and make mortgage loans and other loans more available to America’s working families.”
NAR will continue to emphasize the need for a mortgage interest-rate buydown and improved foreclosure mitigation programs as key components to improved stability in the housing market. NAR is also asking Congress to concentrate efforts on strengthening the commercial real estate market to protect the nation’s economy.
“Real estate has always led this nation out of economic downturns,” McMillan says. “A renewed, revitalized and robust housing market is essential to generating commerce and helping families build wealth and stability. We are eager to see this happen and look forward to working with the Obama administration and Congress to quickly implement H.R. 1 and enact other stimulus efforts for residential and commercial markets.”