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The 2021 SILVAR Leadership Academy opened strong last week, with U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo addressing 40 participants and guests. SILVAR President Joanne Fraser delivered the opening remarks and SILVAR Board Director Suzanne Yost, chair of the Leadership Academy steering committee, led the program.

In her talk to members, Eshoo said in the past year the Bay Area housing market has remained strong, but the shortage of supply and rising prices have deeply impacted housing affordability, changing the composition and identity of our local communities and forcing many people to leave the area in search of more affordable places to live. She fears if nothing is done, the state will be viewed as a place where only the wealthiest can live.

Eshoo said solutions to the severe housing affordability problem can only come from a partnership of federal, state, and local governments working in cooperation with non-profits and the private sector. Congress plays an important role in this partnership by providing federal funding to build new housing and protect the existing supply of affordable housing, and through incentives in the tax code and programs that strengthen affordable housing.

As an advocate of housing, Eshoo said she has been able to pass 50 bills under four presidents due to her leadership philosophy of building coalitions and generating consensus to support legislation. She stressed the importance of REALTOR® advocacy, which she said has always supported her and shaped her legislative work. She values input from REALTORS® and noted of all groups that come to D.C., REALTORS® are the best prepared.

“The meetings are rich for me. Your advocacy informs my work,” said Eshoo.

The Congresswoman thanked SILVAR members and noted she is deeply grateful for REALTORS®’ support. “Thank you for all your magnificent support all these years. Our relationship has always been a great source of pride for me. You really mean a great deal to me.”

An impressive lineup of speakers followed Eshoo. They included Sydney Barron, NAR Director of Governmental Advocacy; Sanjay Wagle, C.A.R. Senior VP for Governmental Affairs and Chief Lobbyist; John Scribner, C.A.R. Manager of Public Policy; Matthew Gelfand, attorney for Californians for Homeownership; 2008 SILVAR President Leannah Hunt; and SILVAR Government Affairs Director Ryan Carrigan.

The NAR and C.A.R. senior staff presented an overview of the structure of REALTOR® advocacy and explained each of their roles in lobbying at the federal and state level. TBarron said REALTORS® are a powerful force and NAR is seen as a valuable resource in shaping government policy.

“Our power and our strength is our members,” said Wagle. He said Red Alerts are especially powerful and get the attention of legislators.

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Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) Legislative Committee members, including President-elect Mary Kay Groth, met with U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo on Wednesday at her Palo Alto office and discussed federal priorities for REALTORS® during the summer recess. These included the cap on state and local tax (SALT), mortgage interest deduction, and flood insurance, several other topics related to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and how support homeowners.

Eshoo said the good news is flood insurance under House Resolution 3167, the National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019, would be extended for five years and include funding to update flood maps and modernize the program. H.R. 3167 has cleared House committees and is awaiting a vote on the House floor.

Eshoo also expressed an interest on how mortgage financing could be eased and homeownership made more affordable to first-time homebuyers. H.R. 3141, the FHA Loan Affordability Act of 2019, would require FHA borrowers to pay mortgage insurance premiums only when their remaining principal balance exceeds 78 percent or more of the home value or sales price. Los Altos-Mountain View District Chair Greg Boudreau shared how a client of his refinanced and now had over 30 percent equity in their home, but would be required to pay mortgage insurance over the next 11 years, increasing their financing costs significantly.

Eshoo shared further information on the SALT Fairness Act, a bill she co-sponsored, which aims to reinstate the deductions that were lost during tax reform. This bill was introduced on a bipartisan basis and is awaiting committee action.

“Seldom does a bill impact so many of my constituents, and on average it costs homeowners in my district over $50,000 on an annual basis,” said Eshoo.

Eshoo represents U.S. Congressional District 18, which is located between the cities of San Francisco, Santa Cruz and San Jose, and includes portions of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

Meeting with Congresswoman Eshoo were President-elect SALT Fairness Act , Region 9 Chair Denise Welsh, NAR Director Leannah Hunt, Federal Political Coordinator for Congresswoman Eshoo Carole Feldstein, Los Altos-Mountain View District Chair Greg Boudreau, Palo Alto District Chair Lynn Wilson Roberts, Los Altos-Mountain View District LC Chair Barbara Williams and Menlo Park-Atherton District LC Chair Chris Isaacson.

Members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) were in Washington, D.C. this week attending the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) REALTOR® Party Convention & Trade Expo, with nearly 8,500 other REALTORS® from across the country, advocating policies that impact the residential and commercial real estate markets. REALTORS® met with legislators, congressional and regulatory staff, as well as top industry executives.

This year’s convention focused on critical real estate issues such as preserving the mission and accessibility of the Federal Housing Administration’s loan programs, protecting real estate-related tax policies, and reforming the secondary mortgage market.

“This week is important, not only because REALTORS® want to ensure their points-of-view on important real estate issues are heard, but also to remind our country’s leaders of the vital role that real estate plays in both the long- and short-term health of this nation,” said NAR President Steve Brown.

SILVAR members attended U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s weekly constituent breakfast and met with staff of U.S. Representatives Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier and Mike Honda. During meetings on Capitol Hill, SILVAR REALTORS® urged support for legislation to reinstate the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, which expired at the end of 2013; preservation of the mortgage interest deduction and the property tax deduction; and not to pass legislation that will weaken and ultimately eliminate Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA.

SILVAR members also participated in a number of NAR meetings. David Barca, California Association of REALTORS® Federal Committee chair, briefed California NAR Directors on legislative issues. SILVAR Executive Officer Paul Cardus shared information on SILVAR’s global program with other REALTOR® associations at the State and Local Forum on Global Business.

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