WASHINGTON – July 15, 2016 – The U.S. Senate passed H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act,” by unanimous consent yesterday. The move follows earlier passage by the House and was the topic of a recent Call for Action campaign that led many Realtors to email their lawmakers and push for passage.
The legislation includes reforms to current Federal Housing Administration (FHA) restrictions on condominium financing, among other provisions – issues long supported by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
Changes in the bill include efforts to make FHA’s recertification process substantially less burdensome, while lowering FHA’s current owner-occupancy requirement from 50 percent to 35 percent. The bill also requires FHA to replace existing policy on transfer fees with the less-restrictive model already in place at the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
NAR testified last year in support of the bill, which passed in the House of Representatives 427-0 in February.
Tom Salomone, president of NAR and broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida, praised the legislation as a significant step towards eliminating barriers to safe, affordable mortgage credit for condos.
“Condominiums often represent an affordable option that’s just right for first-time and low-to-moderate income homebuyers,” says Salomone. “Unfortunately, overly burdensome restrictions on condo financing have for too long put that option out of reach for many creditworthy borrowers. This legislation meets those restrictions head on, putting the dream of homeownership back in reach for more Americans.”
In addition to first-time buyers, the bill will help current condo owners who hope to move up to single-family housing by making their current condominium easier to sell.
“Tight inventory and rising home prices are a reality of today’s market, and mortgage credit is hard to come by,” says Salomone. “We should take every opportunity to clear the path for well-qualified borrowers to purchase a home when they’re ready, and this legislation does just that.”
Salomone gives credit to Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) who “have done tremendous work to see H.R. 3700 move forward, and we’re thankful for their support. Realtors made their voices heard as well, reaching out to their Senators and Representatives to remind them of how important this issue is to homeownership.”
The bill now moves to President Barack Obama’s desk. Once signed, it becomes law.
“We look forward to seeing this legislation signed into law so homebuyers can start seeing some much-needed relief,” adds Salomone.
© 2016 Florida Realtors®