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Housing Industry Groups Wrestle With Federal Policies

Industry trade groups and lobbyists upped the ante in the war of policy, words, and influence following testimony by ""Federal Reserve"":http://www.federalreserve.gov/ Chairman ""Ben Bernanke"":http://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/bios/board/bernanke.htm before a joint congressional committee this week.

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A Thursday story by ""_Bloomberg News_"":http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-06/housing-industry-asks-u-s-congress-to-adopt-no-harm-principle.html reporters Lorraine Woellert and Kristen Jensen contributed to the exchange, with the news service quoting ""National Association of Home Builders"":http://www.nahb.com/ (NAHB) president ""Gerald Howard"":http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?contentTypeID=3&contentID=159873&subContentID=354746 as telling lawmakers to ""[s]hut up"" about their housing policy suggestions.

""Stop saying we're going to eliminate the mortgage interest rate deduction,"" _Bloomberg_ quoted Howard as saying. ""Stop saying we're going to require everyone to put 20 percent down on a house. Stop saying there's no role for the federal government.""

The news service called the recent downward shift in conforming loan limits, which fell from $729,750 to $625,500 as a result of a lack of action by Congress on Saturday, a ""rare political defeat"" for the housing industry and the trade groups that usually go to bat for it in Washington, D.C.

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In a separately released ""statement"":http://www.nahb.org/news_details.aspx?newsID=13647 titled ""Housing is Key to Job Creation, Economic Recovery,"" the NAHB criticized the expiration for higher limits and the Qualified Residential Mortgage proposal previously floated by several federal agencies.

While criticizing some actions by the federal government, the trade group held onto assertions that ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/ need to continue buttressing markets as companies in federal conservatorship.

""A strong federal role is essential to help absorb market risk, ensure a stable and reliable flow of credit for home buyers and to maintain a liquid secondary market,"" the NAHB said. ""Diminishing or ending government support for housing would make the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, the major housing finance tool for most Americans, increasingly scarce and much more costly.""

Commenting on the recent trends, ""Bob Nielsen"":http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?contentTypeID=3&contentID=159873&subContentID=354750, the trade group's chairman and a Reno-based home builder, asked in the statement, ""How many more articles need to appear on the front pages of major newspapers and how many officials need to sound the alarm before federal policymakers reverse anti-housing policies that are dampening demand and preventing a housing and economic recovery from taking hold?""

_Bloomberg_ also said that other trade groups, namely the ""Mortgage Bankers Association"":http://www.mbaa.org/default.htm and ""National Association of Realtors"":http://www.realtor.org/ (NAR), continue to participate in the lobbying effort for the housing industry.

""In Washington, the challenge is you have a lot of well- intentioned people who don't understand the impact of decisions,"" the nes service quoted ""Ron Phipps"":http://www.realtor.org/about_nar/fullbio_phipps, NAR's president, as saying. ""We're better off with those well-intentioned people stepping back instead of coming up with solutions that have unintended consequences.""

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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