Monday, November 16, 2009

Realtors’ Agenda Shifts from Homebuyer Tax Credits to Lending Issues

After successfully lobbying for an extension and expansion of the first-time homebuyers credit, the National Association of Realtors is reportedly set to focus it efforts on relieving the commercial real estate credit crunch. According to Market Watch, there are hundreds of billions of dollars in commercial loans that will require refinancing over the next two years.

"The commercial area is something that is going to be in the news more and more, as loans are rolled over and need to be refinanced," NAR senior vice president and chief lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello said Sunday at the industry group's annual conference in San Diego.

Commercial transactions are down due to a "virtual lack of available credit," according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR. About $800 billion to $850 billion in commercial loans will mature in the next two years and will require refinancing, he added.

"The credit has to be available ... or potentially lenders will end up owning half of Manhattan," Giovaniello said.

For residential properties, meanwhile, lending requirements remain tough, he said.

"The problem has been to convince lenders, federal agencies and Congress to push the money from Wall Street to Main Street," Giovaniello said. "We think that the lenders could be more flexible. Their capital standards have increased, their stock prices have increased and they need to get out of that overreaction mode."

NAR's policy agenda also includes making sure the Federal Housing Administration remains strong.

Continued tight underwriting standards for conforming mortgages have led prospective buyers to seek out home loans insured by the FHA, which have seen an uptick.

Continued at Market…

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