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The National Association of REALTORS® is asking all REALTORS® to urge their Members of Congress to support the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Without congressional action, the NFIP is set to expire on September 30.

Please respond to NAR’s Call for Action and urge your member of Congress to pass “The 21st Century Flood Reform Act” H.R. 2874 as soon as possible. Persuading Congress to extend this program is very important to the industry, its members and their clients. If the NFIP lapses, more than 40,000 real estate transactions per month will be in jeopardy.

H.R. 2874 contains numerous provisions of critical importance to consumers and REALTORS®:

  • Reauthorizes NFIP for a full five years, avoiding the uncertainty of short term extensions and potential shutdowns
  • Caps NFIP rates at $10,000 per year for property owners
  • Directs FEMA to develop more granular rate tables, to ensure fewer properties are over charged by NFIP
  • Sets aside $1 billion for flood mitigation assistance grants
  • Increases access to private market flood insurance

TAKE ACTION HERE

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Due to the government shutdown, many federal government offices remain closed, and a number of government programs, including some that impact federal housing and mortgage programs, are suspended or experiencing delays due to the lapse in government funding. REALTORS® say if the government shutdown is prolonged, it could hurt the housing market recovery.

“Since the IRS is closed, lenders cannot verify buyers’ incomes. Government-backed loans, including FHA loans, will be delayed. Delays in processing would ultimately stall home sales,” explained Carolyn Miller, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

California Association of REALTORS® Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young said if the shutdown continues there could be dire consequences. “We are operating in a global economy, where everything is interconnected. The greatest concern is if nothing is resolved by October 17 and Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.”

If Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, the nation would default on its debt. Mortgage rates would soar, housing affordability would drop, and potential buyers would pull back from the housing market, which is just recovering from the recession.

The Office of Management and Budget requires each agency to have contingency plans in place in the event of a government shutdown. The information below is based on the National Association of REALTORS®’ review of agency contingency plans.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
FHA will endorse new loans in the Single Family Mortgage Loan Program, but it will not make new commitments in the Multi-family Program during the shutdown. FHA will maintain operational activities, including paying claims and collecting premiums. Management & Marketing contractors managing the REO portfolio can continue to operate. Expect some delays with FHA processing.

VA Loan Guaranty Program
Lenders will continue to process and guaranty mortgages through the Loan Guaranty program, but expect some delays.

Flood Insurance
The National Flood Insurance Program will not be impacted by a government shutdown, since the program is funded by premiums and not tax dollars. Changes to the flood insurance program scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1 will be implemented as scheduled.

Rural Housing Programs
Lenders will not receive approvals for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs during the shutdown because field office staff who typically issue conditional commitments, loan note guarantees and modification approvals are on furlough due to the shutdown. If the lender has already received a conditional commitment from the Rural Development office, the lender may proceed to close those loans during the shutdown since the funds were already set aside. A conditional commitment, which is good for 90 days, is given to a lender once a USDA underwriter approves the loan.

Government Sponsored Enterprises
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue operating normally, as will the Federal Housing Finance Agency, since they are not reliant on appropriated funds.

Treasury
The Making Home Affordable program, including Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program, will not be affected since the programs are funded through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which is mandatory spending, not discretionary.

Internal Revenue Service
The IRS is closed and has suspended the processing of all forms, including tax return transcripts (Form 4506T), which are required for many kinds of loans, including FHA and VA, so expect delays.

Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration is closed and has suspended most customer service functions. Verifying Social Security numbers through the SSN Verification Service will also be suspended during the shutdown, a further complication for mortgage processing.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) extension Congress enacted last month will expire today. NAR is urging Congress to create a 5-year NFIP re-authorization bill. Contact Congress to show support if you haven’t already.

TAKE ACTION

Time is running out on important housing-related issues before Congress. We need REALTORS® to contact their elected representatives in Washington, D.C., today. 

Here is what REALTORS® can do:

Reauthorize National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to ensure access for millions of Americans to affordable flood insurance which is not available in the private insurance market. The House has passed its bill. Now we need you to urge the Senate to act.

Without reauthorization, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire on September 30, 2011. Today, 5.6 million property owners rely on the program in 21,000 communities where flood insurance is required for federally related mortgages. Both consumers and your fellow REALTORS® are counting on your to help get this bill passed.

Tell Congress to Reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program

Make permanent the current loan limits for FHA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to ensure the affordability of mortgage credit for hundreds of thousands of responsible and credit-worthy American families.

The cost of a mortgage could rise significantly if loan limits are reduced. If this happens, many of your clients run the risk of being priced out of the American Dream of home ownership. This could hold back the housing recovery. The new loan limits show that more than 669 counties in 42 states and the territories would be negatively impacted by the loan limit change. 

Take Action to Ensure Your Clients Have Access to Affordable Mortgages

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