Industry Groups Look to Election to Jumpstart Housing Finance Reform

Editor's Note: This article is part of the National Mortgage News' MBA Annual Special. Click here to see more from the report.

Housing issues transcend parties and there needs to be bi-partisanship to address them in the next Congress, said National Association of Home Builders CEO Jerry Howard.

The housing industry is looking for November's election to resolve the inertia that has plagued real estate finance reform efforts during the Obama administration.

That frustration has led the National Association of Home Builders to endorse Congressional candidates for the first time.

"The fact the issues have been around so long is disturbing to us. The fact that Congress has failed to take action on some of these issues — and some of them haven't been around for eight to 10 years — is what finally [had us] getting off the dime and saying 'We need people who are going to take action,'" said NAHB CEO Jerry Howard.

In future elections, NAHB plans to endorse candidates in all of the congressional races. Right now, it is starting off by endorsing candidates, incumbent or challenger, that it knows have a pro-housing track record.

"Housing issues transcend parties. Oftentimes our issues call for bipartisan cooperation and that is something we would really like to see going forward," said Howard.

Americans love their homes no matter whether they rent or own. They spend money on them and it helps drive the economy, said Howard. So it's "time for Congress to wake up, acknowledge that and take appropriate action."

So far, housing issues have not been a priority for either party or their presidential candidates.

Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos bemoaned the lack of discussion about housing issues throughout the presidential race when responding to an audience question at a September event in New York.

"What's been striking to me is that despite the fact that we came through a financial crisis that had housing issues at its core, there's really been no discussion about housing policy," he said. "Neither of the candidates has really advanced any strong views or positions around housing policy going forward."

And what would his ideal housing policy address? One of the first issues that he raised, when asked, was the lack of affordable housing to own or to rent nationwide.

"There is no well-coordinated federal, state and local strategy on how to create new affordable housing stock," Mayopoulos said.

"We're guardedly hopeful" the election's results will move Congress to do something, said Rocke Andrews, the immediate past president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.

Housing reform has to be bipartisan and that is how "historically we've accomplished a lot of things. Hopefully the mood will around this election will get that point across to the legislators," Andrews said.

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