Obama: FHA Premium Cut Helps Middle Class
In his sixth State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama last night pointed to the cut in the annual FHA insurance premium that takes effect later this month as the kind of “middle-class economics” initiative he wants to focus on to help build on the country’s improving economic picture. “Things like lower mortgage premiums. will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families,” the president said last night in his nationally televised address before a joint session of Congress. Obama provided no details on the FHA initiative, but in a speech he gave two weeks ago in Phoenix, the president said the FHA premium cut would save home owners an average of $900 a year in fees. NAR President Chris Polychron attended that speech and spoke with Obama prior to it about the proposal. “I told the president we received the proposal very favorably,” Polychron said last week. Behind that number is a 50 basis point reduction in the annual mortgage insurance premium, from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent, that’s set to take effect January 26, according to a mortgagee letter issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this month. Obama framed his speech around a theme he called “middle-class economics,” which is intended to lift up working families now that the economy is seeing sustained job growth, an improved stock market, and lower gas prices. Obama said three components were required to bring about his vision of middle-class prosperity: security for working Americans, the skills required to fill 21st century jobs, and a competitive environment for businesses looking to locate and hire workers. He offered a list of ideas from child care tax cuts to free junior college tuition to strong free-trade deals with Asia and Europe. Obama also highlighted his position on Internet net neutrality, a policy framework backed by NAR that is intended to prevent Internet service providers from creating different tiers of service levels that would impact consumers’ online experience. “I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs has the platform to keep reshaping our world,” he said. He also noted the careful approach his administration is taking on regulation of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. The Federal Aviation Administration is working on rules for the use of small UAVs for commercial purposes, although it’s not clear when the rules will be released. The president said his administration is working “to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained.” NAR supports the safe and responsible use of UAVs for commercial purposes and has worked with the FAA as it develops its rules. Much of the president’s agenda will require congressional action, setting up some difficult legislating in the year ahead. In remarks reported in the Washington Post after the speech, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called some of the proposals “unserious” and, in other reports, said they’re “the wrong policies.” — Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News
New Laws Strengthen Real
Estate License Holders’ Accessibility and Accountability to Consumers
New laws effective in 2011 and 2012 are good news for both consumers and licensees. IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Christine Anderson September 9, 2011 512-936-3091 In August, the Real Estate Commission and Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board proposed rules to implement provisions of SB747 and HB 2375, two laws passed by the 82nd Legislature that will drive major improvements over the next year. In addition to a variety of process changes that clarify and standardize application procedures, important substantive changes also provide better protections for consumers and strengthen license holder education requirements. Also, SB 1000 provides “self-directed, semi-independent” status to the agency, shifting most operating budget responsibility from the Legislature to the Commission and Board. Lastly, HB 1146 calls for the regulation of “appraisal management companies”, adding significant responsibilities to the Board. Among the more notable changes, as of September 1st, property managers for single-family residential units must now be licensed. Persons involved in leasing such properties have always been required to hold a real estate broker or sales license, but managers not engaged in leasing did not. Texas families now have increased protections from unethical managers who prey on home owners. Similarly, other than sole proprietorships, all business entities which engage in practices defined under the law as “brokerage activity” must also be licensed. Formerly, certain partnerships were exempt. The updated law also acknowledges the practice of producing “broker price opinions” as a common broker activity, and more clearly distinguishes these from “appraisals”, which require a separate and distinct appraiser license from the Board, and requiring extensive education in valuation techniques. Homeowners, lenders and practitioners will all benefit from this overdue clarification. Beginning in January 2012, applicants for a broker license will need to have four years of experience as a licensed salesperson, up from the current two year requirement, plus demonstrate practical competency by providing a detailed list of brokerage activities engaged in by the applicant during this same period. This will ensure consumers who deal with brokers and their sponsored salespersons a level of service more solidly backed up by additional practical experience. Brokers, and other direct supervisors of licensed salespersons, who seek to renew a license after September 1, 2012 will need to have completed a new 6- hour course in “Broker Responsibilities”, in addition to the combined 6-hour courses in Legal and Ethics updates. All of these courses are updated every two years by a panel of experts convened by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. Applicants for a sales license after September 1, 2012 will need to have completed two additional mandatory 30-hour courses in TREC Promulgated Contracts and in Real Estate Finance, courses that are currently optional. This additional education will directly benefit consumers. All of these measures, combined with the recent strengthening of advertising rules, supervisory disclosures, and the requirements for delegations of a broker’s authority and office policies and procedures to be maintained in writing, provide a more transparent and accountable environment for the practice of real estate brokerage in Texas. All of these enhancements will reinforce the confidence of consumers in the education and professionalism of this critical sector of the economy.