Home Ownership Matters Take Priority at NAR Conference

The impact of homeownership on individuals, communities, and the nation’s economy will be front-and-center during the 2010 Realtors® Conference & Expo here this week through November 8. 

During the opening session, National Association of Realtors® President Vicki Cox Golder reminded attending Realtors® and guests of the challenges ahead.

“In the wake of current economic conditions, some critics have questioned the value of owning a home for families and individuals, and suggested that our government rethink its support of policies and programs that encourage home ownership,” said Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz. “As leading advocates for home ownership and housing issues, Realtors® need to reinforce just how much home ownership matters to people, to communities and to America.”

To drive this point home, current home owners in a pre-taped video shared with the audience their perspectives on how home ownership has changed their lives. The benefits these individuals, couples and families described were as diverse as they were. For some, home ownership provides a sense of community stability and financial security for their children; for others, it gives them the opportunity to establish family traditions, or to build financial security. All of them underscore a belief that owning a home is still a part of the American Dream.

Realtors® believe in that dream, and NAR and its members are actively engaged with lawmakers, government agencies and industry experts to ensure that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to do so. Coming just days after the general election, NAR’s annual conference will bring Realtors® and public policymakers together to address issues like government-sponsored enterprise reform, the role of the Federal Housing Administration, foreclosures and short sales, and the availability of credit.

FHA Commissioner David Stevens joined Realtors® at the opening session and shared his concerns with the impact that tight credit policies have had on home ownership. Stevens criticized the current “one-size-fits-all” approach to mortgage lending, and emphasized that each buyer’s qualifications should be evaluated on his or her own merits.

Citing the gap between FHA policy that would allow buyers with a 580 FICO score to qualify for an FHA-insured mortgage and some lender underwriting rules that require FICO scores in the mid-600s and above, Stevens said, “(These policies) are restricting home ownership, and we need to do something about that. One-fifth of the gross domestic product of the U.S. economy is tied to the housing sector, so home

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