Federal Legislative & Regulatory Updates Pertinent to REALTORS®
March 28, 2022
Since the Legislature was on break last week, Alabama REALTORS® thought it would be a good time to update members on things going on at the federal level. Below is a summary of the federal legislative and regulatory updates pertinent to REALTORS®.
Omnibus Spending Package
On March 15, 2022, the President signed H.R. 2471, the Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2022, which is a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package to keep the government running and funded through September 30. There are many topics important to REALTORS® that the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) lobbied for inclusion in this bill, including:
- Affordable Housing
- Anti-money Laundering
- EB-5 Regional Center Program
- Environmental Protections
- Fair Housing
- Flood Insurance
- Homeless Assistance Programs
- Housing Counseling
- HUD and Rental Assistance
- LIBOR Transition
- Rural Housing Loans and Rental Assistance
- Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Transportation & Infrastructure
- Violence Against Women Act
On Friday, March 18, 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published guidance on web accessibility and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). While the DOJ still has not provided a regulation setting out detailed standards, it does have a new webpage here with information on how businesses open to the public can use existing standards to make their websites more accessible to people with disabilities. For more information on this topic, check out our article, Website Accessibility under the ADA for REALTORS®.
Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE) Report
The Biden Administration and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued the PAVE report last week. The PAVE Action Plan outlines the historical role of racism in the valuation of property, examines the types of bias that appear in residential property valuations, and describes how the government and industry stakeholders will advance equity in valuations through their actions and recommendations. The report issued 21 recommendations to solve this bias under the five following categories:
- Strengthening guardrails against unlawful discrimination in all stages of residential valuations
- Enhancing fair housing and fair lending enforcement and driving accountability in the real estate and appraisal industry
- Building a diverse, well-trained, and accessible appraiser workforce
- Empowering consumers to take action against bias
- Giving researchers and enforcement agencies better data to study and monitor valuation bias
You can read the PAVE report and learn more about how the PAVE Task Force is accessing additional policy initiatives to ensure more equitable valuations here.
Fair Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Updates
The FHFA issued new requirements for condo documentation and reserves in response to the Surfside condo collapse in Florida last year. NAR requested a delay in implementing these requirements due to the cost and time it will take to review properties and provide better information for homeowners’ associations (HOAs) on the requirements. The FHFA responded that they would not delay implementation, but they offered to facilitate a discussion with the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) for better marketing of their requirements and information sessions for HOAs. NAR comment letter can be found here, and FHFA response can be found here.
FHFA also issued their proposed strategic plan for 2022-2024, for which NAR submitted a comment letter. The letter thanks the FHFA for improving the capital rule, balancing pricing towards consumers, proposing to work on fair lending & equity, and improving transparency and accountability at GSEs. NAR urged FHFA to do more to lower the overall capital level in the capital rule and move GSE reform forward.
Proposed WOTUS Rule
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have a proposed rule to redefine “the waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. There is concern that this will sweep more U.S. waters under federal jurisdiction leading to delays in home building. NAR joined a coalition of stakeholders, the Waters Advocacy Coalition, to submit a comment letter asking the agencies to reconsider the proposed rule.
Fannie Mae ANSI Measurements
Fannie Mae recently announced that appraisers will be required to use a new appraisal standard, ANSI® Z765-2021, effective as of April 1, 2022, for measuring, calculating and reporting square footage for appraisals requiring interior and exterior inspections. NAR has requested a delay in implementation until all secondary market participants adopt the same requirement to reduce confusion and to become familiar with how standard is applied. You can read the letter to Fannie Mae here.
Health Insurance Affordability
The Congressional Healthy Future Task Force Affordability Subcommittee made a request for considerations for legislation to make health care more affordable. NAR provided comments which advocated for a return to expanded Association Health Plans (AHPs) and stated their support for policy solutions that will improve quality and affordability of health care.