Legislative Update - June 2020
STATEMENT BY NAR PRESIDENT VINCE MALTA ON THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD
“The shocking, senseless death of George Floyd is tragic. Our deepest sympathies are with the Floyd family and other families who understand and feel this pain and grief. Our neighbors in the communities where we work and live across America should feel safe and free from discrimination. “As longtime champions of fair housing, equality and inclusion are among NAR’s most cherished values. NAR is committed to leading the way on policies that address racial injustice and that build safe and inclusive communities. Building the future begins with equal access to housing and opportunity for all. “We appreciate all you do as REALTORS® to listen, learn, and work with others to be a part of the solution. As leaders in your communities, America’s 1.4 million REALTORS® are active participants in promoting equality, inclusion, and acceptance. We welcome your input and thoughts on how we can improve our communities together.”
Back-to-Normal Barometer and Buyer/Seller Survey Results
NAR worked with two of the country’s leading experts in public opinion, Rich Thau, President of Engagious, and Jon Last, President of Sports & Leisure Research Group, to provide REALTORS® with key insights about how consumers want to safely navigate home sales transactions in the midst of the on-going COVID-19 health crisis. The free recorded webinar and slide presentation explores the precautions buyers and sellers expect to take during real estate transactions as well as the precautions they expect real estate professionals to take. The research also looks at how virtual tours are perceived in this new normal as well as the valuable role real estate agents and brokers play during the home sale process.
House Passes PPP Flexibility Act
On Thursday, May 28, 2020, the House of Representatives just passed the "Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act," cosponsored by Representatives Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Chip Roy (R-TX), which makes several amendments to the CARES Act to make PPP loans more helpful to small businesses by increasing flexibility. The changes include:
- Extending the program sunset to December 31, 2020;
- Extending the length of time businesses can use the loans from 8 to 24 weeks, or until the end of the year (whichever is earlier) (note: businesses that have used it in 8 will not be penalized);
- Removal of the requirement that 75% of the loan go toward payroll costs;
- Makes PPP recipient businesses eligible for the delayed payment of employer payroll taxes in the CARES Act; and
- Creating an exception to the rehire requirement for employees that were let go due to COVID-19 if a business can show that they are unable to return to normal operations due to compliance with federal government rules or guidelines based on maintaining sanitation, social distancing, or worker/customer safety requirements related to COVID-19.
NAR sent a letter (link is external) thanking the sponsors of the bill for their work to improve PPP loans. The Senate is expected to consider similar legislation next week, although there may be some differences from the House bill. NAR will continue to advocate for improvements to this program so it can be more responsive to the needs of small businesses and independent contractors during this crisis, and to ensure that the maximum number are able to reopen when it concludes.
Additionally, NAR has an updated PPP loan forgiveness infographicbased on recently released guidance from the SBA, which you can also find at www.nar.realtor/coronavirusSBA.
As the PPP Flexibility Act moves through Congress and the federal agencies provide new guidance on the program, NAR will continue to update its resources for members at www.nar.realtor/coronavirus.
PUA Update and Statistics:
Last week, the U.S. Labor Department released unemployment statistics, including information on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) with approximately 994,000 claimants approved for PUA benefits as of the week April 25th. Also, 841,995 claimants filed initial PUA claims as of the week of May 9th.
The U.S. Department of Labor has not issued a list of all states participating in the PUA program. But, based upon some research that we've conducted, it appears that each state has likely signed an agreement to administer PUA. Currently, 41 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico are paying PUA benefits. While most states are accepting and processing PUA claims, not all states are issuing benefits yet. The following states have not started issuing PUA benefits yet: Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
There are also key states that are still experiencing major delays in processing unemployment benefits and claims. States experiencing major delays, include: Florida, Kentucky, Hawaii, Arizona, Indiana, Wyoming, Missouri, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Oklahoma. Also, this Roll Call article highlights many of the challenges and issues in these states.
As Secretary Scalia mentioned last week at the NAR Regulatory Issues Forum, many states are experiencing major technology challenges and other program implementation issues. These technology issues are growing as some states are experiencing data breaches and data security issues. We are continuing to monitor updates from the U.S. Department of Labor and states regarding PUA program implementation and impact.
FHA Premium Legislation
Senators Peters (D-MI) and Cornyn (R-TX) have introduced S. 3639, the ‘‘Housing Financial Literacy Act of 2019 (link is external).’’ This bill will permit first time buyers who have gone through approved counseling to lower their FHA mortgage insurance premiums. S. 3639 will help homebuyers gain a greater understanding of mortgage and homeownership responsibilities while improving housing affordability. FHA’s current premiums are significantly higher than what is necessary to cover the risks of losses, and NAR strongly supports efforts to reduce FHA premiums.
This legislation is a companion bill to H.R. 2162 (link is external), introduced by Reps. Beatty (D-OH) and Stivers (R-OH), which passed the House last year.
NAR's Letter Supporting S.3639 (link is external)#ACARNews#GovernmentAffairsCommitteeUpdates#IssuesandLegislation#RealtorParty