In addition to the Action Items summarized in the previous article, CAR Legislative Agenda Shapes Up, there was another Action Item that came before the 526th Board of Directors session on October 10, that being a motion from the Real Estate Finance Committee.
By way of background, here's a brief primer on how things happen at our state association level. Any member can bring forward an issue through their local association representatives for consideration at the state level. The matter is brought into the committee structure so that a decision can be made on whether the matter is appropriate, whether the impact is significant and what action should be taken. I mean, face it - Just because you've got a beef about a local lockbox issue or had a problem with some lenders short sale negotiator may not qualify the issue for consideration by a state committee.
If the committee determines the issue is of sufficient import to tackle it, it will be placed on the agenda for discussion along with supporting documentation. The committee will then determine what, if any, action should be taken.
Should they decide to recommend some form of action they will determine whether they will go forward with a request to SPONSOR a bill, SUPPORT a bill that's already in process or just ask CAR to devote some staff time to further research the most appropriate course of action. That recommendation, in the form of a motion or report, will then proceed from the originating committee to a policy committee, generally the Legislative Committee. That committee can decide to approve the committees motion, oppose the motion, or draft an amended version. One or both motions will then proceed to the Executive Committee where they will look at it, approve it for the general session agenda, draft an amended or competing version or, in rare instances, oppose the motion.
One such motion came before the session on Saturday having to do with the current FHA 90 day anti-flipping rule. Originally drafted in 2001, the FHA rule was intended as a consumer protection back in a day when FHA loans, especially in California, were the exception rather than the rule. Due to the FHA's unwillingness to keep pace with escalating prices, again especially in areas like California, the use of FHA mortgages fell to single digits by 2005 contributing to the widespread reliance on sub-prime and other more exotic financing methods.
Today FHA loans are becoming more the standard again with increased loan limits in our area. This is especially true for first time and other low-to-moderate range buyers, currently estimated to account for as much as 40% of todays loans statewide. The anti-flipping rule, originally intended to prohibit investors/intermediaries from acquiring cheap homes and simply 'flipping' them with no value added thereby driving prices up, doesn't really apply in this market. In fact the argument was made that investors play a very significant role in todays market buying abandoned and stripped foreclosures that would not qualify for an FHA loan to begin with. They rehab the home, often within 30 days, and then put a move-in-ready home on the market (at market price, not inflated). But 40% of buyers who might otherwise qualify for that home with an FHA loan cannot because of the anti-flipping rule.
As you might imagine there was substantial debate at every level of advancement for this motion. But when it came to the floor on Saturday it carried an almost unheard of prohibition - a recommendation from the Executive Committee that the motion be defeated. Why? Their stated reason had little to do with the particulars of the rule or the motion but a general caution that in todays political climate of increasing regulation, they simply didn't think this was a winnable fight. HONEST.
After about 45 minutes of spirited back-and-forth on the motion before the general assembly, members delivered a stinging rebuke to Exec. Not only was it determined that C.A.R. in conjunction with NAR 'SUPPORT' the elimination of the anti-flipping rule, an amendment was inserted telling CAR we want them to write a letter to the FHA Commissioner and others appropriate parties advising them of our opposition to the rule. NOW.
It's kind of fun to see the members get riled up sometimes. In an environment that at times resembles a convention of rubber stamp politics as usual, passion can carry the day. Enough of our member/Directors realize the impact this is having on you and your Buyers and decided political correctness and/or lack of balls be damned. This was the right thing to do and we're by God gonna do it.
Will it result in an immediate change? Not likely. But the message is being delivered. As we continue to define what is the new 'normal market', your Association of Realtors will be at the table assisting in that process. It was a proud moment to stand up and be counted.