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NAR President Testifies before House Subcommittee in Support of FHA Reforms

WASHINGTON – October 22, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — At a hearing today before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, National Association of Realtors® President Chris Polychron offered support for H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2015.”

The legislation includes provisions intended to help expand housing opportunities in the marketplace, including measures that would reform current Federal Housing Administration restrictions on condominium financing.

Polychron testified that the reforms are important to ensuring qualified homebuyers have access to financing, and noted that NAR stands ready to work with the committee on the bill’s passage.

“Condominiums are often the most affordable homeownership option for first-time buyers, small families, single people, urban residents, and older Americans.” Polychron said in prepared testimony. “Unfortunately, current FHA regulations prevent buyers from purchasing condominiums, harm homeowners who need to sell their condominiums, and limit the ability of condominium projects to attract resident buyers.”

Polychron testified that NAR has worked with FHA for years to ensure people have access to safe, affordable mortgage credit for condominiums, and thanked the committee for showing a willingness to address a number of lingering concerns.

In particular, H.R. 3700 deals with key problem areas facing buyers and sellers of condominiums. Among these, the bill addresses FHA’s recertification process, taking steps to make it “substantially less burdensome,” according to the bill text. Polychron said that the current FHA recertification process is often costly, and noted that condominium developments must repeat this process every 24 months.

The legislation would also lower FHA’s current owner-occupancy requirement from 50 percent to 35 percent and require FHA to replace their policy on transfer fees with the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s less-restrictive model. Lastly, the bill would streamline the exemptions process for FHA’s rule prohibiting certification of condominium projects with more than 25 percent commercial space. In the past, HUD has championed neighborhoods with a mix of residential housing and businesses and access to public transit. This provision helps address current barriers to promoting similar neighborhoods.

“H.R. 3700 includes changes to FHA policies that will give current owners and potential buyers of condos access to more flexible and affordable financing and a wider choice of approved condo developments,” said Polychron.

In addition to its condo-related provisions, H.R. 3700 takes steps to support multifamily housing initiatives including those of the Rural Housing Service and Section 8 Housing.

“This bill contains a number of provisions that NAR supports, and we believe it will help expand housing opportunities at all levels,” Polychron said. “NAR thanks Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., for introducing this important legislation.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing over 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.