Voice for Real Estate 83: AHPs, Banks, Infrastructure

The Department of Labor's association health plan rule is a good step but eligible "working owners" should include people who get insurance through their spouse, NAR says. NAR supports the Senate banking bill because it's expected to open up more home lending to households. And there could be some opportunities for real estate pros if the infrastructure plan moves forward. NAR is seeking permanent extension of a tax break for homeowners who've had mortgage debt forgiven. A Realtor spoke at a Capitol Hill roundtable on why flood insurance must be reauthorized and reformed for the long-term. And a cyber security expert explains how agents can protect themselves from scams. 

Featured Segments

  • Association health plans 
  • Banking deregulation 
  • Infrastructure plan 
  • Mortgage debt forgiveness 
  • Flood insurance 
  • Cyber scams 

Transcript

NAR wants to make association health plans better

Are there opportunities for you in the $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan? 

Lending could win big as the Senate eases constraints on smaller banks

And . . .how you can win the cyber-scam battle

These stories and more in The Voice for Real Estate

Hi, I’m Stephen Gasque with the National Association of Realtors

A big change in health care – could affect you! There was a lot of excitement earlier this year when for the first time, the U.S. Department of Labor released a proposal to allow working-owners to band together to form association health plans. It was a significant move because the Department of Labor defined working owners to include you—that is, independent contractors and small business owners. NAR weighed in on that rule last week and said it was a good start—but it needs to allow all working owners to be part of association plans. Currently working owners who already have health insurance through a spouse, would not be eligible. Here’s NAR’s Christie DeSanctis with more. 

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A lot still has to happen before it becomes realistic for NAR to create an association health plan for its members. We’ll keep you updated as the rule moves forward. 

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It’s big news: the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. The goal is to repair and replace our country’s aging roads, bridges, dams, and other types of infrastructure, including rural broadband networks.  The plan calls for leveraging   $200 billion in federal funding, to generate $1.3 trillion in private and public money.

We’re still many steps away from the plan taking effect, but the time for you to get involved is right now, because planning for these big projects happens years before the actual work begins. And there will be big real estate components to these projects. To help you get up to speed, NAR will be hosting a live webcast later this month on the plan and what role you might play. Here’s NAR’s Adriann Murawski on what the webcast will cover. 

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That Facebook Live event will be Tuesday, March 27, at 1 p.m., Central time, 2 p.m., Eastern Time. Go to NAR’s Facebook page for more. 

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It’s being called a win for bipartisanship. A dozen Democrats joined with Republicans to pass a bill easing reporting requirements for all but the largest banks and also easing some lending restrictions on community banks. Those of course,  are the country’s smallest banks and often the only lending option for people in rural areas. NAR supports maintaining healthy competition between banks of all sizes and the bill is expected to do that while still ensuring safeguards are in place to prevent risky banking practices that could hurt the economy. Here’s NAR’s Vijay Yadlapati on why the bill could be helpful to real estate. 

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The House has also passed a banking bill but there are big differences between the House and Senate versions. We’ll be back to report on how those differences are worked out.

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And now – tax relief for people who have gone through a foreclosure or short sale. For the last 10 years, NAR has been consumers’ most forceful advocate for the IRS  not to count forgiven mortgage debt - as income on tax returns. And every year Congress has passed that tax relief. But will Congress do it again? Barry Grooms, a Realtor in Sarasota, Fla., testified in Washington last week that Congress should in fact pass the tax relief again, because financially struggling households shouldn’t be penalized for action taken by their mortgage lender. 


[SWOOSH]

The waters around St. Petersburg, Fla., have risen several inches in the last two decades and engineers are estimating that the water line will rise at an even faster rate in the decades ahead. That’s just one reason why cities need the federal government to pass long-term reauthorization and reform - of the National Flood Insurance Program. Brandi Gabbard, a St. Petersburg Realtor, member of her city council, and chair of NAR’s Insurance Committee, took that message to lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill  last week. 

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Gabbard said doing nothing? That’s not an option…because real estate must preserve its value in cities affected by rising water levels.

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And now – another cyber-scam alert! As you know, cyber crime is a multibillion-dollar industry. Real estate transactions are a big target because they involve substantial amounts of money. Steve Spano, president and COO of the Center for Internet Security, was in NAR’s offices last week with a warning -- to verify anyone you’re working with—including other agents or even buyers—because cyber-criminals impersonate others all the time --- just one way they intercept money during a transaction. 

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You can hear all of Spano’s remarks on the Speaking of Real Estate blog. Just search “Steve Spano.”

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And that’s out show for the week of March 12. You can get more on everything we talked about at The Voice for Real Estate page on nar.realtor. Thank you for joining us and be sure to join us again as we bring you the latest news on The Voice for Real Estate. 


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