Fannie Mae: U.S. Housing-Market Attitudes Improved in September

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  • Montgomery County taking lead on statewide class-action lawsuit

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    The Montgomery County Commission Tuesday voted to move forward with a statewide class-action lawsuit against two financial institutions for several years of unpaid recording taxes.

    The commission and probate office, which are being represented by the Montgomery-based Capell Howard P.C. law firm, will sue Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Finance Agency in United States District Court in Montgomery.

    If the judge agrees to hear the case, the firm will seek repayment of recording fees for all counties in Alabama, said Jimmy Walter, an attorney with Capell Howard. Montgomery County is the lead plaintiff.

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have refused to pay deed and mortgage recording taxes by claiming exemptions as agencies of the federal government or exemptions by their charter.

    Walter said he doesn’t know exactly how much money the companies could owe Montgomery’s probate office, but records show neither have paid any fees since at least 2007. He said there have been hundreds of deeds Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have recorded – but not paid for – in Montgomery.

    Recording fees are $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value.

    Chief Probate Clerk Wells Robinson said the recording fees owed could be a “significant” amount of money. He said the litigation process will determine exactly how much that figure could be.

    Counties in Michigan and Georgia have filed similar lawsuits against the two institutions, Walter said. One federal judge has ruled that they must pay the taxes, but another has ruled they are exempt.

    “Part of the plan of the litigation will be to learn how long this has been going on,” Robinson said. “There’s been successful litigation on this issue. We’ve searched our records here and they do corroborate what other local probate courts in the country are experiencing.”

    Walter said his firm is working with firms in Atlanta and Chicago on the litigation. He said the plan is to file a complaint in the next few weeks.

    “Our firm was contacted by attorneys in other states who have brought similar cases on behalf of other counties,” Walter said. “We had discussions with the probate office to see if this was an issue in Montgomery County.”

    Robinson said the exemptions from the agencies have been standard practice, but the probate office has decided to review the practice. Litigation will bring some “definition” to the issue, he said.

    The lawsuit will only cost the county money if there is a successful outcome as a result of the litigation.

    County Commissioner Ham Wilson Jr., also an attorney, he’s pleased the lawsuit won’t cost the county anything.

    “If it’s a way we can recover some money, we need to look into it,” Wilson said. “This could end up being a national issue.”

    Real Estate Financial Fitness Q&A

    Michael Melford / Getty Images

    Wondering what’s the latest in real estate? Every year, the Financial Planning Association of New York sponsors a “Financial Fitness Day” at New York University, co-sponsored by Moneyland. This year’s real estate discussion (which I participated in with Hedda Nadler of Mount and Nadler and David Breitstein of Apple Mortgage) addressed some especially timely questions.

    Here’s a sample:

    Q: Is the old rule that the time horizon to hold a property should be at least five years still in effect?

    A: With the housing slump, average “tenure” — length of time Americans spend in their homes – has actually lengthened, from six to nine years, according to a chart published at Credit Sesame using statistics from the National Association of Realtors. If you’re planning on become a homebuyer, though, the issue is not average tenure, but will you be in the home long enough to ride out an economic down-cycle. So you want to take a look at housing statistics in your area, which your realtor should be able to give you. In many markets five years will be long enough, but in some — as residents of speculative markets like Phoenix and Vegas can tell you — seven years is a better rule of thumb.

    (MORE: Why Reform Will Push Money Mark Fund Yields Even Lower)

    Q: Should I get a mortgage if I have the ability to pay all cash?

    A: This isn’t so much a real estate question as it is a personal finance question. If you buy a home with cash, you’ll be giving up the time value of the money you spend. The question is what you would do with the money if you borrowed instead? Invest in stocks? Buy a car? If you can borrow at 4%, and are confident that you could earn more with the money by investing it, then it may make sense to borrow. But bear in mind that you’ll also get a tax deduction on the mortgage interest you pay on the first $1 million that you borrow.

    Q: How are millennials affecting the housing market?
    A: This generation (generally defined as people born from 1980 to 2000, and therefore including people in their twenties and early thirties) faces special challenges, as they’ve come of age in a climate where student loan debt is high — almost like a second mortgage. The jobs market in recent years hasn’t been pretty either, with the result than many young people have come back to roost with their parents. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this generation has a lot of pent-up housing demand, and, with today’s low rates, should be able to enter the market as the economy recovers.

    (Rental Vacancies Drop as Young People (Finally) Move Out)

    Q: If I know my mortgage costs, how can I estimate my total housing costs?

    Too often, a potential homebuyer will think of her housing costs as simply the cost of her mortgage. This simplification especially distorts rent-vs.-buy calculations.  (As one industry saying goes, “You can rent your house, or you can rent the money to buy your house.”) Don’t forget to add in property taxes (ask home sellers to provide copies of their property tax bills) which can range from .18% to 1.89% of your home’s value annually, according to the Tax Foundation. Property taxes can be deducted on your federal income taxes, but that’s a deduction that gets phased out for homeowners who get hit by the AMT.

    Also worth considering are utility bills, especially those you might not be used to paying as a renter — heat and water, for example. Homeowner’s insurance should also be figured into the calculation. And don’t forget to include a number in your budget for home maintenance; a good rule of thumb there is that you’ll spend between 2% and 3% of your home’s value each year. Some years you won’t spend that much, but setting it aside will enable bigger projects, like re-shingling the roof or renovating the kitchen, in other years.

    (MORE: Ready, Set, Disrupt)

    Q: Why can’t I find real bargains on foreclosures in my area? If the housing market slumps, then you should be able to find some serious bargains, right? Unfortunately, a lot of the low-hanging fruit gets snapped up quickly by flippers and local real estate agents or contractors who know the local housing stock intimately.

    It’s also important to consider condition when you talk about distressed properties: Heavily discounted foreclosures have often suffered through months, if not years, of neglect — so some of the money you save will have to be reinvested in additional maintenance. I’m not saying that you can’t find a foreclosure that’s right for you, but don’t expect to save a huge amount of money in the process.

    Fannie Mae Supports the Multifamily Market with Consistent Issuance in the Third Quarter of 2012

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Fannie Mae (OTC Bulletin Board: FNMA) today announced that the company issued approximately $8.5 billion1 of multifamily MBS in the third quarter of 2012, backed by new multifamily loans delivered by our lenders.  Year-to-date issuance is $22.3 billion. Fannie Mae also resecuritized $4.0 billion of DUS MBS through its Fannie Mae Guaranteed Multifamily Structures (Fannie Mae GeMS™) program in the third quarter.

    “A protracted, low interest rate environment has kept the borrowing rate below 4 percent, and consequently, originations have been robust,” said Kimberly Johnson, Fannie Mae Vice President of Multifamily Capital Markets.

    The company’s DUS MBS securities provide market participants with highly predictable cash flows and call protection in defined maturities of five, seven and ten years.  Fannie Mae’s GeMS program consists of structured multifamily securities created from collateral specifically selected by Fannie Mae Capital Markets.   Features of Fannie Mae GeMS have included block size transactions, collateral diversity and pricing close to par through Fannie Mae’s multifamily REMICs (ACES) and multifamily Mega securities.

    Highlights of Fannie Mae’s multifamily activity in the third quarter of 2012 include the following:

    1)  MULTIFAMILY MBS BACKED BY NEW MULTIFAMILY ACQUISITIONS

    New multifamily MBS business volumes in the third quarter of 2012 totaled approximately $8.5 billion.    

    2)  FANNIE MAE GeMS ISSUANCE

    Issuance of Fannie Mae’s structured multifamily securities created from collateral selected by Fannie Mae Capital Markets totaled $4.0 billion in the third quarter of 2012.  This includes four Fannie Mae GeMS REMIC transactions.  In addition, dealers issued two multifamily REMICs backed by $1.2 billion of DUS MBS in the third quarter of 2012, adding to the liquidity of Fannie Mae DUS MBS.

    3)  FANNIE MAE SALES

    Fannie Mae Capital Markets sold approximately $4.9 billion of multifamily mortgage securities from its portfolio in the third quarter of 2012.2

    For additional information about Fannie Mae’s multifamily MBS products and issuance please refer to Basics of Multifamily MBS and our MBSenger Publication “Over Twenty Years of Multifamily Mortgage Financing Through Fannie Mae’s DUS Program” on fanniemae.com.

    Fannie Mae GeMS Issuance in the Third Quarter of 2012

    FNA 2012-M13, Priced on September 19, 2012

    Lead Manager:  RBS
    Co-Managers:  Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Jeffries

     

    FNA 2012-M11, Priced on September 10, 2012

    Lead Manager and Sole Bookrunner:  Morgan Stanley

     

    FNA 2012-M9, Priced on August 9, 2012

    Lead Manager:  J.P. Morgan
    Co-Managers:  Bank of America Merrill Lynch and RBS

     

    FNA 2012-M8, Priced on July 12, 2012

    Lead Manager:  Citigroup
    Co-Managers:  Amherst and RBS

     

    1 Reflects unpaid principal balance of multifamily Fannie Mae MBS issued during the period. The number excludes Fannie Mae portfolio resecuritization transactions and conversions of adjustable-rate loans to fixed-rate loans and DMBS securities to MBS securities. 

    2 Includes Fannie Mae GeMS sold.

    Certain statements in this release are forward-looking statements, including statements about our expected issuances in the future.  Actual outcomes may differ materially from what is indicated by these statements as a result of many factors, including market demand, macroeconomic and housing market conditions, interest rates, GSE reform, and other factors described under “Risk Factors” in our most recently filed Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).  In addition, not all securities will have the characteristics discussed in this release. Before investing in any Fannie Mae issued security, you should read the prospectus and prospectus supplement pursuant to which such security is offered. You should also read our most current Annual Report on Form 10-K and our reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K filed with the SEC available on the Investor Relations page of our Web site at www.fanniemae.com and on the SEC’s Web site at www.sec.gov.

    References in this release to dollar amounts and securities issued and/or outstanding refer to unpaid principal balances and do not reflect market valuation or other accounting adjustments.

    Fannie Mae exists to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market. Fannie Mae has a federal charter and operates in America’s secondary mortgage market to enhance the liquidity of the mortgage market by providing funds to mortgage bankers and other lenders so that they may lend to home buyers. Our job is to help those who house America.

    Freddie Mac warns of foreclosures featured in fake rental ads: real estate roundup

    freddiemac.jpgView full sizeFreddie Mac’s headquarters in McLean, Va.Must-read housing and development news from across the web:

    Rentals: Government-backed mortgage financier Freddie Mac says scammers are using its foreclosed properties to bilk renters out of sensitive information and security deposits.

    The scammers wait until a home is sold at auction, usually into bank ownership. Then they post a phony advertisement to rent the house — which they don’t own — on sites like Craigslist, looking for renters who will submit an application with private information or pay security deposit.


    A blog covering real estate news in Oregon and the Portland area.
    » Subscribe (RSS)
    » @ORFrontPorch
    In some cases they hand over bogus keys, then disappear. In others they’ve changed the locks, so the renter doesn’t know they’re squatting until a real estate agent shows up with police.

    Freddie Mac suggests checking homes against property records and sale listings, and independently verifying before providing credit information.

    North Bethany: The fast-growing, unincorporated neighborhood — one of the metro’s new-home hotbeds — is in dire need of utility infrastructure, but no one can agree where it should go. “Everyone agrees we need a substation for North Bethany,” said a Portland General Electric official. “It just might not be in North Bethany.”

    Apartment construction: A Northeast Portland neighborhood group is raising money to consider legal action against a proposed apartment project. The project, like many in the city, lacks plans for off-street parking.

    Foreclosure mediation: A Rhode Island federal judge said he’s “incredibly pleased” with the way the program is turning out. The AP reports:

    U.S. District Judge John
    McConnell Jr. says it’s in the best interests of homeowners and mortgage
    providers to try to negotiate settlements. Former Bank Rhode Island CEO
    Merrill Sherman, the program’s special master, delivered a progress report in
    court Tuesday. She has held 131 settlement conferences and expects to
    hold more this year. Settlements haven’t yet been reached in most cases.

    In Oregon, a foreclosure mediation program and a subsequent court ruling have brought foreclosures to a crawl, and sent more cases into the state’s courts.

    –Elliot Njus

    Pierce County civic and real estate industry leader Harold Allen Jr. dies

    Harold Allen Jr., a dedicated civic and real estate industry leader in Pierce County for six decades, has died at his Lakewood home.

    Allen, 85, passed away Saturday.
    Harold Allen Jr.
    Harold Allen Jr.

    The retired head of Pierce County’s oldest family-owned real estate firm, Harold Allen Company Realtors, Allen served a broad variety of community causes and held real estate industry leadership positions on the local, state and national level.

    Among his numerous credits, Allen served two terms as president of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce. He was a director of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, of Lakewold Gardens and Charles Wright Academy.

    Allen was appointed the state’s youngest real estate commissioner at 28. He headed the Tacoma-Pierce County Association of Realtors twice and was president of the Washington Association of Realtors once.

    On the national level, Allen was a two-term director of the National Association of Realtors.

    Allen graduated from Taft School in Watertown, Conn., and attended Stanford University. He served in the Navy during the Second World War.

    At 21, Allen took over the family real estate firm after his father’s untimely death. As head of that firm, Allen was a pioneer in the development of the Lakewood community and its Oakbrook development.

    The realtor is survived by four children, a brother and a sister, eight grandchildren and longtime companion Margaret Johnson.

    Allen’s two wives, Mary Jane Allen and Kaye Highsmith Allen, died before him.

    More details of Allen’s life and services are available on The News Tribune’s obituary page,
    www.legacy.com/tribnet

    Consumer Attitudes on Housing Continue Summer Season's Gradual Upward Trend

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Results from Fannie Mae’s September 2012 National Housing Survey show Americans’ optimism about the recovery of the housing market and with regard to homeownership continued its gradual climb, bolstered by a series of mortgage rate decreases experienced throughout the summer. Consumer attitudes about the economy also improved substantially last month, breaking the progression of waning confidence seen during much of this year.

    “Consumers are showing increasing faith in the nascent housing recovery,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae. “Home price change expectations have remained positive for 11 straight months, and the share expecting home price declines has stabilized at a survey low of only 11 percent. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve’s latest round of quantitative easing has caused a large drop in mortgage rate expectations. Friday’s September jobs report, including the strong upward revisions for prior months, a sizable increase in earnings, and a sharp decline in the unemployment rate, should provide further impetus for improving consumer confidence in the housing market.”

    Keeping a relatively steady pace with recent periods, survey respondents expect home prices to increase an average of 1.5 percent in the next year. The share who say mortgage rates will increase in the next 12 months dropped 7 percentage points to 33 percent. Nineteen percent of those surveyed say now is a good time to sell, marking the highest level since the survey began in June 2010. Tying the June 2012 level (and the all-time high since the survey’s inception), 69 percent of respondents said they would buy if they were going to move.

    With regard to the economy overall, forty-one percent of consumers now believe the economy is on the right track, up from 33 percent last month, while 53 percent believe the economy is on the wrong track, compared with 60 percent the prior month. Both the right track and wrong track figures mark the highest and the lowest readings, respectively, since the survey began in June 2010.

    SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

    Homeownership and Renting

    • Consumers’ average home price change expectation is 1.5 percent, consistent with recent periods and marking nearly a full year in which home price expectations have been positive.
    • Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed expect home prices to go up in the next year, the highest level since the survey’s inception in June 2010.
    • Thirty-three percent of respondents say mortgage rates will go up in the next year, a decrease of 7 percentage points since last month.
    • Nineteen percent of respondents say it is a good time to sell, the highest level since the survey’s inception.
    • Those who say now is a good time to buy dipped slightly to 72 percent.
    • The percentage of respondents who say they would buy if they were going to move increased to 69 percent, tying June 2012 at the highest level since the survey’s inception.

    The Economy and Household Finances

    • Consumer optimism climbed in September, with 41 percent saying the economy is on the right track – the highest level recorded since the survey’s inception and an 8 percentage point increase over last month.
    • Forty-four percent of respondents expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next year, up from 42 percent in August.
    • The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased by 3 percentage points to 17 percent.
    • Thirty-four percent of those surveyed say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago, a 2 percentage point increase over August.

    The most detailed consumer attitudinal survey of its kind, the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey polled 1,000 Americans via live telephone interview to assess their attitudes toward owning and renting a home, mortgage rates, homeownership distress, the economy, household finances, and overall consumer confidence. Homeowners and renters are asked more than 100 questions used to track attitudinal shifts (findings are compared to the same survey conducted monthly beginning June 2010). Fannie Mae conducts this survey and shares monthly and quarterly results so that we may help industry partners and market participants target our collective efforts to stabilize the housing market in the near-term, and provide support in the future.

    For detailed findings from the September 2012 survey, as well as a podcast providing an audio synopsis of the survey results and technical notes on survey methodology and questions asked of respondents associated with each monthly indicator, please visit the Fannie Mae Monthly National Housing Survey site. Also available on the site are quarterly survey results, which provide a detailed assessment of combined data results from three monthly studies. The September 2012 Fannie Mae National Housing Survey was conducted between September 5, 2012 and September 22, 2012. Interviews were conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, in coordination with Fannie Mae.

    Fannie Mae exists to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market. Fannie Mae has a federal charter and operates in America’s secondary mortgage market to enhance the liquidity of the mortgage market by providing funds to mortgage bankers and other lenders so that they may lend to home buyers. Our job is to help those who house America.

    Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/FannieMae.

    Freddie Mac sells $2 bln bills at mixed rates, mixed demand


    Tue Oct 9, 2012 9:58am EDT

    Oct 9 (Reuters) – Freddie Mac, the No. 2 U.S. home funding
    company, said on Tuesday it sold $2 billion of reference bills at mixed rates
    and mixed demand compared with last week’s sale of similar maturities.

    Freddie Mac said it sold $1 billion of three-month bills due Jan. 7, 2013 at
    a 0.119 percent stop-out rate, down from the 0.121 percent rate for its $1
    billion three-month bills sold Oct. 1.

    The company also sold $1 billion of six-month bills due April 8, 2013 at a
    0.154 percent rate, up from the 0.151 percent rate for $1 billion six-month
    bills sold a week ago.

    Demand for the three-month bills was stronger, with the bid-to-cover ratio
    at 5.12 versus 5.05 for the three-month bills sold Oct. 1. Demand for the
    six-month bills was weaker, at 5.11 vs 5.30 for the six-month bills sold a week
    ago.

    A bid-to-cover ratio reflects the amount of bids compared with the amount
    offered. A higher ratio indicates stronger demand.

    Settlement is Oct. 10.

    Freddie Mac warns of foreclosures featured in fake rental ads: real estate roundup

    freddiemac.jpgView full sizeFreddie Mac’s headquarters in McLean, Va.Must-read housing and development news from across the web:

    Rentals: Government-backed mortgage financier Freddie Mac says scammers are using its foreclosed properties to bilk renters out of sensitive information and security deposits.

    The scammers wait until a home is sold at auction, usually into bank ownership. Then they post a phony advertisement to rent the house — which they don’t own — on sites like Craigslist, looking for renters who will submit an application with private information or pay security deposit.


    A blog covering real estate news in Oregon and the Portland area.
    » Subscribe (RSS)
    » @ORFrontPorch
    In some cases they hand over bogus keys, then disappear. In others they’ve changed the locks, so the renter doesn’t know they’re squatting until a real estate agent shows up with police.

    Freddie Mac suggests checking homes against property records and sale listings, and independently verifying before providing credit information.

    North Bethany: The fast-growing, unincorporated neighborhood — one of the metro’s new-home hotbeds — is in dire need of utility infrastructure, but no one can agree where it should go. “Everyone agrees we need a substation for North Bethany,” said a Portland General Electric official. “It just might not be in North Bethany.”

    Apartment construction: A Northeast Portland neighborhood group is raising money to consider legal action against a proposed apartment project. The project, like many in the city, lacks plans for off-street parking.

    Foreclosure mediation: A Rhode Island federal judge said he’s “incredibly pleased” with the way the program is turning out. The AP reports:

    U.S. District Judge John
    McConnell Jr. says it’s in the best interests of homeowners and mortgage
    providers to try to negotiate settlements. Former Bank Rhode Island CEO
    Merrill Sherman, the program’s special master, delivered a progress report in
    court Tuesday. She has held 131 settlement conferences and expects to
    hold more this year. Settlements haven’t yet been reached in most cases.

    In Oregon, a foreclosure mediation program and a subsequent court ruling have brought foreclosures to a crawl, and sent more cases into the state’s courts.

    –Elliot Njus

    Housing industry: Hands off mortgage deduction

    The housing industry is laying the groundwork for a sustained campaign to fight changes to the mortgage interest deduction if Congress tackles tax reform next year.

    Groups including the National Association of Realtors and the Mortgage Bankers Association say the reform concepts being floated on the campaign trail — such as GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s idea of capping itemized deductions at $17,000 — are merely the warm-up for the main event in 2013.

    “It’s the presidential election season. Are we watching the debate? Are we paying attention? Yes. But we are not going to get too worked up now,” said Jamie Gregory, deputy chief lobbyist for the Realtor group. “The real debate is going to take place in January.”

    David Stevens, the president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said his group wouldn’t “overreact” to what either Romney or President Obama says in the campaign’s final weeks. 

    “I have the Romney plan on my desk,” Stevens said. “I have a similar one from Obama there, too.”

    But another branch of Washington’s housing lobby, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), say it’s monitoring the tax-reform chatter closely in case a proposal catches fire. 

    “It’s possible that any kernel of an idea can gain some traction,” said Jim Tobin, NAHB’s senior vice president for government affairs. “Our members read the papers, and our members are looking to us to see what they should be taking seriously.”

    Tobin said NAHB reached out to the Romney campaign to see how serious of an idea the deduction cap was, and said the group was told it was just one of several concepts the campaign was examining. Romney has also tossed out $25,000 and $50,000 as possible figures for an itemized-deduction cap.

    “We take the notion of tax reform very seriously,” Tobin said. “In order to get to some of the targets on tax rates, mortgage interest, among other incentives, inherently has to be on the table.”

    Housing groups are already lobbying lawmakers about the importance of the mortgage break, and are stressing to members that the tax exemption is widely used by the middle class and helping fuel the economic recovery.

    The comments from the housing industry come as Democrats and Republicans alike lay down markers on tax reform in preparation for the post-election debate over the “fiscal cliff.”

    On Tuesday, Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the upper chamber’s third-ranking Democrat, called for an overhaul of the tax code that reduced deficits without lowering the top rate — at least in part, he said, because the mortgage interest deduction and other tax breaks that could be targeted for elimination help the middle class. 

    Romney, meanwhile, floated his itemized-deduction cap last week after Obama and others attacked his plan as paving the way for tax increases on the middle class.

    Because lower-income households are less likely to itemize their tax deductions, higher earners would be hardest hit by capping them.

    But the preference for mortgage interest also accounted for around a third of average itemized deductions in 2009, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, meaning a deduction cap would almost certainly occasion a higher tax bill for many homeowners. 

    “The places where that really could hit hard are the areas with higher taxes and housing costs,” Roberton Williams of the Tax Policy Center told The Hill. “The New Yorks, the Californias — D.C.’s probably in there, too.”

    And while most housing groups say they’re taking a wait-and-see approach, they have responded sharply to proposals to curb the mortgage interest deduction before.

    “We have banks lending defensively already. The last thing that we can afford right now is having borrowers afraid to buy because of some change in tax policy down the road,” said Stevens of the mortgage bankers group. “My emphasis right now is not to create more uncertainty in the housing market.”

    The mortgage bankers, for instance, said in a statement that the plan from the president’s fiscal commission, known as Simpson-Bowles, would have “negative repercussions” for homebuyers. 

    Simpson-Bowles put forward a tax-reform plan that would have eliminated all tax preferences, and another that called for lowering the cap to $500,000.

    The housing groups bring sizable political clout to the debate. Political action committees for the Realtors, Mortgage Bankers and Home Builders have contributed more than $5.9 million to candidates or other political committees during the 2012 campaign cycle up to the end of August — with close to $3.6 million of that coming from the Realtors alone. 

    The Realtors’ super-PAC — the National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund — has spent roughly $5 million on independent expenditures for candidates, making it one of the highest-spending super-PACs this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Some of those super-PAC ads — such as a spot backing Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee — highlighted lawmakers’ support for the mortgage deduction.

    Gregory of the Realtors’ group said his shop is putting considerable effort into ensuring it is ready for tax-reform proposals next year.

    “We are in the process of doing our homework and our research shop is running the numbers downstairs,” he said. “We are going to try to be the source of credible information for when those proposals come out.”




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