Associations Congratulate Obama, Urge Congressional Action
(Update 1 clarifies Hope Now's status as an alliance.) Almost as soon as Senator Barack Obama was decidedly forecast as the next U.S. President, non-profit alliances and associations began lining up to congratulate him - and to put in their bids on which pieces of housing legislation should be passed as quickly as possible (immediately, in some cases). Hope Now, the non-profit alliance of mortgage industry professionals designed to prevent foreclosures, released a statement Thursday congratulating President-elect Barack Obama and Vice-President-elect Joe Biden on their historic win late Tuesday, saying "there is still much work to be done." "Hope Now is looking forward to working with the Obama Administration on our joint goal of preventing as many foreclosures as possible and getting the economy back on track," executive director Faith Schwartz said. The National Association of Home Builders similarly congratulated the nation's 44th President on Thursday. It then jumped right into action, urging Congress to move quickly in the current lame-duck session to enact a second economic stimulus package that includes key housing recovery provisions. NAHB asked Congress to provide specific home-buying incentives: A 10 percent home buyer tax credit up to $22,000 to replace the current $7,500 credit due to expire in July 2009 and an interest-rate buy down on conforming loans for homes purchased through the end of 2009. The proposed buy-down would reduce the interest rate to 2.99 percent on 30-year mortgages for homes purchased through June 30, 2009, hopefully bringing prospective homeowners into the market and boosting the industry. "Getting consumers off the sidelines will reduce the inventory of unsold homes, stop the erosion of home values in hard-hit markets and result in more new and existing home sales in the months ahead, restoring housing as an essential driver of growth in the nation's economy," said CEO Jerry Howard. The National Association of Realtors sent its own housing stimulus plan to Congress in October in an attempt to stabilize the housing industry and boost the economy, according to a press statement Thursday. The plan included provisions to eliminate repayment of the current first-time home buyer tax credit and make the credit available to all home buyers. "The U.S. Treasury and Congress need to work together to ensure that the American people benefit from the economic recovery plan," said NAR President Richard F. Gaylord. "The Treasury Department has gotten off track by focusing too much attention and stimulus money on Wall Street and banks that are in turn using the money for mergers and acquisitions. The administration needs to get back to the original intent of the plan - stabilizing the mortgage and housing markets - to help families avoid foreclosure." With so many associations already in the lobbying line waiting for him to take office - some and pushing for legislation even before he's been handed the keys to the White House, Obama faces no shortage of work going forward. It's unclear exactly which legislative steps he might take in his first acts as President, although early speculation is rampant. Editor's note: HousingWire has posted an online survey to gauge how readers believe the housing industry landscape might change when Obama takes office. Participate in the survey and let us know how you think the Obama Administration will affect the U.S. housing industry. Write to Diana Golobay at firstname.lastname@example.org.