WASHINGTON (May 9, 2023) – Housing supply is one of the greatest factors impacting affordability in today's market, according to speakers at the Regulatory Issues Forum at the 2023 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings.

The high-profile session, keynoted by Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Julia Gordon, focused on regulatory policy concerns important to the real estate industry. During her remarks, Gordon addressed the latest actions out of FHA, including the 30-basis point reduction to annual mortgage insurance premiums charged to homebuyers who obtain an FHA-insured mortgage, the 203(k) program and Accessory Dwelling Units.

"The issues that Realtors® are discussing are what we spend our time on at FHA, too; we think a lot about the realities of today's market," said Gordon. "Serious inventory shortages, a radically altered interest rate environment, liquidity challenges that affect the entire housing ecosystem."

"Everything I've just mentioned constrains the ability of all households to buy a home," she continued. "But no one is more affected by these difficulties than the low- and moderate-income families that FHA serves."

Commissioner Gordon continued her keynote address by unveiling that more than 82% of FHA's borrowers this year are first-time homebuyers. She explained that they "serve the people who are getting their foot on that first rung of the homeownership ladder."  

"We're going to continue to work with NAR and with all of you to enhance the opportunity to partner with FHA," Gordon continued. "That includes factors in the President's budget proposal - $10 billion for first-generation down payment assistance and funding to increase availability for FHA mortgages for lower-priced homes."

The Commissioner stated that "this year, for the first time in eight years, we reduced the FHA annual mortgage insurance premium." Under her leadership, the FHA will continue to work to expand the affordable housing supply. "Every American who buys a home should have the same opportunities to build generational wealth," Gordon said.

After Commissioner Gordon's remarks, Bryan Greene, NAR's vice president of policy advocacy, joined her on stage for a Q&A that touched on the current housing supply problem, FHA's functions under HUD, the 30-basis point reduction to the annual mortgage insurance premiums, and her outlook for the next year in her current role.

"We don't have the opportunity to do quite as much directly to build as we do on the multifamily side, but what we do have are products that can help keep homes from going offline altogether," said Gordon. "We do expect foreclosures to tip up somewhat following the pandemic because there was a moratorium for so long. And it's important that when that home goes up for sale or foreclosure, we decide to sell it to a new owner occupant and not to some investor that's just going to turn it into a rental."

Greene ended the conversation by asking the Commissioner what she hopes to accomplish in the next year at FHA and how NAR can help. "The thing I need your help with most is dispelling myths about FHA mortgages and making sure FHA mortgages are not discriminated against by sellers," Gordon said.

In the second portion of the event, a panel of real estate technology experts discussed the benefits and challenges of artificial intelligence (AI), as well as how emerging technology can benefit real estate professionals and clients.

Sherrell Dorsey, Founder and CEO of The Plug, started off the discussion with the burning question, "What does AI, like ChatGPT, mean for the real estate industry?"

"AI is computer systems that perform tasks or functions that normally require human intelligence," said Rachel Kim, Copyright Counsel at Copyright Alliance. "In terms of its use in the real estate space, ChatGPT is writing property descriptions, and then you also have different image generators out there – serving as imagination tools."

The panel agreed that AI can transform the real estate industry by making it more efficient, and as the technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more uses of AI in real estate.

All panelists agreed that transparency into the inner workings, where the information was gathered, and the creation of these tools would assist the public in their choice to use AI. Dorsey then asked the panelists if the government should play a role in AI.

"There are things we can do without new laws," said Catherine Bracy, Co-founder & CEO of TechEquity Collaborative. "Things around the edges, make the tools more transparent – ensuring you are not violating fair housing laws. Everyone will have to make their own ethical decision on how to use this."

The National Association of Realtors® is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. The term Realtor® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

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