WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 9,000 Realtors gathered in Washington, D.C. during the 2018 Realtors Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo May 14 through 19, to advocate for crucial real estate issues on behalf of current and future home and property owners.
Attendees focused on several significant issues during the legislative-focused meetings, including flood insurance, net neutrality, and fair housing. They also acknowledged the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and urged Congress to expand protections to all citizens in accordance with the National Association of Realtors strict Code of Ethics.
Additionally, Realtors advocated for strong net neutrality programs; fought to extend and reform the National Flood Insurance Program; and urged Congress to index homeownership deductions for future inflation and permanently extend the tax exclusion on mortgage debt forgiveness.
Attendees heard from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, who discussed the nation’s commitment to fair housing during the conference’s General Session; U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri), who shared a personal story with attendees about the importance of safe and affordable housing for all Americans; realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale, who provided an overview of current conditions in the residential and commercial markets; and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator William “Brock” Long, who addressed a broad range of disaster and emergency management topics, such as National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reauthorization and federal disaster relief.
Jan Orban, President of Kosciusko Board of REALTORS, stresses the local importance of the NFIP discussions.
“Homeowners in Kosciusko County depend on NFIP to protect their properties,” Orban said. “Flood damage is the most costly and common disaster for homeowners. NFIP is set to expire on July 31 without congressional action. The National Association of REALTORS is asking for a five-year extension with some changes to the current program. It is important that REALTORS are involved in these talks.”
- NFIP reauthorization should be long term.
- Flood mapping should be done at higher resolutions with a streamlined and less expensive appeal process.
- Premiums should be more accurately priced to the property specific risk, but any rate increases should be gradual and phased in over many years.
- Private flood insurance options should be encouraged where cost-effective, provided that NFIP remains a viable option for property owners.
- To keep rates affordable, the federal government should also provide pre-disaster risk mitigation options—including guaranteed loans, grants and buyouts for property owners to build stronger or relocate to higher ground.
- There should be better oversight and training of insurance companies marketing NFIP policies, and an adequately supported FEMA Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate to assist policyholders with flood map and rate disputes.