Real Estate Report

(June 7, 2019) Representatives from the National Association of Realtors traveled to the Department of Housing and Urban Development at the end of May to hear from administration officials regarding a host of regulatory issues impacting the housing industry.

The visit occurred during the 2019 Realtors Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in the nation’s capital.

“You all know better than most that affordability is an enormous challenge in many markets around the country,” HUD Acting Deputy Secretary and Federal Housing Commissioner Brian Montgomery told a room of more than 100 Realtors. “Large constraints on the housing market by regulations have exacerbated the shortage for hard-working families who are employed and willing to buy but continue to be priced out. The good news is that in today’s economy we have job growth, low unemployment and wage gains that have provided an additional shot in the arm.”

Montgomery pointed out that overregulation and misguided zoning laws have helped contribute to the housing affordability and accessibility issues facing many U.S. markets.

“The combination of regulatory overreach and an aging housing stock has meant not enough affordable units are left—or worse, being built,” he said. “Zoning, environmental and sometimes labor restrictions have made it more difficult for areas across the country to meet the growing [housing] demand.

“We will need continued wage and economic growth and regulatory reform to mitigate affordability constraints,” he continued. “This will also require that not just HUD but states and localities ease the regulatory burden and other impediments to development.”

Montgomery addressed FHA efforts to finalize a new rule surrounding condominium policies.

NAR supports the proposed revisions to FHA’s current condominium policies, including allowing owner-occupancy level determination on a case by case basis, allowing up to 45 percent commercial space without documentation and implementing a five-year approval period for project certification.

“We anticipate that the updated regulations will be more flexible, less prescriptive and more reflective of the current market than existing provisions,” Montgomery said. “It may also include single unit approvals for loans that meet HUD standards for unapproved projects, allowing HUD to set the specific percentage.”

— Lauren Bunting is an Associate Broker with Bunting Realty, Inc. in Berlin.

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