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REALTOR Insider - President Signs the Stimulus Bill
Wednesday, 18 February 2009

H.R. 1, the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" (AARA), passed the House on February 13, 2009, by a vote of 246 - 184. On the same day, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 60 - 39. The President signed the bill on Tuesday, February 17, 2009. The bill is a 0 billion package, with roughly 35% of the package devoted to tax cuts (mostly for 2009) and the rest to spending intended to occur in 2009 and 2010.

The mix of provisions of interest to REALTORS® changed frequently throughout the legislative process, with changes continuing to be made just hours before the measure was released prior to the vote. In the end, the elements of NAR's housing agenda were included. Congress and the President have announced that a finance and housing package (including tax provisions) will be the next "big" initiative, so Congress has by no means finished its work as it affects the housing industry and REALTORS®.

The bill includes the following provisions:

REALTOR Insider - New Administration Announces Financial Stability Plan
Wednesday, 18 February 2009

On February 10, 2009, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced broad outlines for the Obama Administration's Financial Stability Plan. Much more detail is needed. The Plan has 6 key elements:

1. Financial Stability Trust. After a bank "stress test" to assess a bank's condition, eligible banks may receive federal assistance to support their capital position, until the return of private capital investments. As NAR has urged in its Housing Stimulus Plan, federal funds will be conditioned on the bank increasing lending beyond what would have occurred otherwise.

2. Public-Private Investment Fund. This fund will be used to remove troubled assets from the books of banks and will seek to leverage public capital to leverage private capital for the program. The initial program level will be 0 billion, with potential growth to id="bd" class="narrow fs3" trillion. NAR supports retargeting the TARP program to get bad assets off the books of banks to enable them to make more loans.

3. Consumer and Business Lending under TALF. The Plan would expand the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) to promote additional consumer and business lending. The current 0 billion program will be expanded to up to id="bd" class="narrow fs3" trillion and, as urged by NAR, will allow the Fed to accept commercial real estate mortgage loans as security for loans to lenders. The Treasury Department will continue to consult with the Federal Reserve on further expansion to other asset classes, including private residential mortgage backed securities.

4. Transparency and Accountability, Monitoring and Conditions. The entire program will require transparency, accountability, and conditions on the use of the assistance, requirements long-supported by NAR. Recipients must account for how they use every dollar received, including how many new loans are being provided and how many mortgaged-backed and asset-backed securities they have purchased. All recipients must commit to participating in mortgage foreclosure mitigation programs.

5. Housing Support and Foreclosure Prevention. The Administration has announced it is still developing a program to minimize foreclosures and restructure troubled mortgages, with details to follow soon. It plans include maintaining downward pressure on interest rates through the ongoing Fed program to purchase 0 billion of mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) of the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), using billion to prevent foreclosures, and establishing national standards for loan modifications. NAR's Plan strongly supports lower interest rates to stabilize the housing markets and create a foundation for the economic recovery.

6. Small Business and Community Lending Initiative. The plan seeks to reverse the huge decline in Small Business Administration lending by unfreezing the secondary markets for small business loans.

Visit the Financial Stability Plan website
Q & A on the ,000 Tax Credit
Monday, 16 February 2009
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