REALTORS®, members of the National Association of REALTORS®, from across the country had the opportunity to attend a policy briefing at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office Building during the 2018 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. It was a great opportunity to hear first-hand about some of the policy initiatives the administration is focusing on that are impacting REALTORS®, consumers and the broader housing industry.
REALTORS® heard from and engaged with a number of administration officials, who addressed some of the specific concerns REALTORS® focused on during their legislative meetings. Andrew Olmem, special assistant to the president for economic policy, highlighted the House of Representative’s momentum to review the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act,” (S. 2155), a bipartisan bill that provides regulatory relief from certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. Mr. Olmem noted the administration considers it important to simplify and streamline current lending practices, which have become over-complicated and expensive and costing consumers more money.
Adolfo Marzol, senior advisor to Secretary Carson, Department of Housing and Urban Development, offered remarks focusing on FHA financing for condominiums – an issue of significant interest to REALTORS®. Mr. Marzol reiterated the administration’s strong agreement with REALTORS® that the FHA’s condo policies need to be revised, but he could not specify a timeline for when changes would be finalized and go into effect. He also expressed a need for the FHA to modernize their systems, citing their 40-year-old mainframe as an example of of old technology slowing down critical processes for borrowers and lenders. The administration has proposed a fee in their budget requests to generate $20 million to update these systems.
REALTORS® also heard from Neomi Rao, the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, who discussed the important role of that office, housed at the Office of Management and Budget, in reviewing administration regulations. Rao described some of the upcoming regulatory priorities, including the need for infrastructure reform through streamlining permits, reforms to the Endangered Species Act, and having the Environmental Protection Agency review the Waters of the U.S. regulations.
The final presenter, Bill Stepien, deputy assistant to the president and director of the Office of Political Affairs, gave an update on the current political environment and predictions for the coming mid-term election. Mr. Stepien outlined some of the challenges facing Republicans and a few of the administration’s economic and national security policies, which will shape some of the races across the country.