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GA Blog: NAR

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7.30.20 HUD Abolishes the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing Rule

The National Association of REALTORS® has voiced concern over HUD eliminating the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing Rule (AFFH) and replacing it with Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.

AFFH was put into place in 2015 as a means to implement the 1968 Fair Housing Act’s mandate for government to take affirmative steps in addressing segregation. Under AFFH, any city or town that receives federal funding is required to examine racial bias in local housing and design a plan to address such bias.

The new Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice rule requires cities and towns to affirm that they have furthered fair housing would by proposing any action above what is required by statute related to promoting any of the attributes of fair housing.  Fair housing is described as “affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws.” HUD is still able to terminate funding if a city or town is found to have not adhered to the rule.

NAR argues that this significantly weakens the federal government’s commitment to the goals of the Fair Housing Act. You can read more about the REALTOR® position here.

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3.13.20 2020 Census is Here!

Today, the 2020 National Census is available for households to complete online.

The National Association of REALTORS® encourages all its members to take part and be counted.  All answers to the Census are kept strictly confidential and information gathered is used only to produce statistics.  Those statistics help determine Congressional representation and where 1.5 trillion dollars in federal funding is spent.  The Census is also used extensively in research, including most of the research projects NAR publishes on housing.

The National Association of REALTORS® is a proud partner of the National Census Bureau.  You can take the Census online here.

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12.18.19 Federal Government Spending Bill Includes Wins for REALTORS

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a spending package for fiscal year 2020 that includes serveral issues the National Association of REALTORS® has been lobbying for.

The most prominent may be the extension of the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP) for 9 months.  This is a considerably longer period than past extensions (14 over the last two years).  While extensions are vital, NAR has focused support behind the NFIP Reauthorization Act, which would include a 5 year reauthorization along with reforms to improve mapping, enhance mitigation, and remove obstacles to private flood insurance.

Another inclusion is the extension of the mortgage debt forgiveness tax provision, which had lapsed in 2017.  Mortgage Debt Forgiveness became a center issue specifically during the resession because if a portion of a person's mortgage is forgiven (a common example being a short sale) that portion is counted as income for tax purposes.  This is sometimes known as phantom income.  The mortgage debt forgiveness tax provision removes that portion from being counted as income.  The extension is retroactive back to 2017 and through 2020.  Two other tax provisions where included: the deductibility of premiums for mortgage insurance and the deduction of the cost of impovements for commercial buildings to make them more energy efficient.

On the commercial front, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program was included to be reauthorization for 7 years. Terrorism risk insurance can be required to secure necessary financing for commercial production. 

The bill is expected to pass the Senate this week and President Trump has pledged to sign the bill by Friday to avert a government shutdown. 

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11.22.19 Keep the Extensions Rolling

The National Flood Insurance Program was again extended, this time until December 20th.  In a small change from the more than a dozen other times NFIP has been extended in the last two years, NFIP was extended as part of the Continuing Resolution to keep the government operating.

NAR has received assurances from Congressional Leadership in both the House and the Senate that NFIP short-term extensions will continue to be included among any forthcoming government funding bills, which will ensure the avoidance of a lapse for the foreseeable future.

The National Association of REALTORS® continues to work on making progress with H.R. 3167, a bill that would approve a long term reauthorization of NFIP.

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11.14.19 NAR Supports Suit Against Rent Control

The National Association of REALTORS®, along with several other national organizations, has backed a lawsuit to take on New York’s Rent Stabilization law.  The suit challenges the constitutionality of the law and argues that it violates the 5th and 14th Amendment.

Speaking through NAR 2020 President Vince Malta, the National Association of REALTORS® said that instead of rent control the housing crisis should be faced head on by building more affordable housing.  NAR has been constant in maintaining that rent control does not actually create a fairer housing market but instead reduces the quantity and quality of available housing, discourages new construction, and increases rent for unprotected tenants among other issues.

You can read more about the lawsuit here.

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11.11.19 HUD sends letter on unreliable service animal documentation

Last week, HUD Secretary Ben Carson sent a letter to Joseph Simons, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, and Andrew Smith, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, voicing concern over websites that offer “unreliable and unnecessary” assistance animal documentation.

Per the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal for housing providers to refuse to grant reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.  This allows for the acceptance of a service animal even though a pet restriction policy would otherwise prohibit the animal.

The concern voiced is that these websites mislead disabled individuals by representing that the documentation in which they sell is required when many times no documentation may be needed at all.  Secretary Carson states one example: “a housing provider should not request documentation if an individual is seeking to keep a dog and it is readily apparent that the dog is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” A secondary concern is also raised that able-bodied individuals may be able to buy this documentation to pass off pets as assistance animals.

NAR thanked Secretary Carson for taking action to protect hose who rely on assistance animals. You can ready NAR’s statement here and the letter from Secretary Carson here.

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