Friday, July 17, 2009

Pat Combs with the National Association of Realtors #131

This week Bruce is joined by Pat Vredevoogd Combs. Pat is a Realtor from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is the immediate past president of the National Association of Realtors. NAR is America’s largest professional association representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of residential and commercial industries.

In 2005-2006, Bruce had to change his hairstylist every few months because they would quit hairstyling and they would get into real estate. It seemed like everyone was getting a real estate license. Bruce asks Pat if this was true. Pat says that there were many people getting their license in California, Florida, and Nevada, but not in places like Michigan. The state you live in can greatly affect your perspective on real estate. In Michigan, real estate was in a down market while California and Florida were still booming.

Bruce asks if people are confused by the messages of profit being sent out by the media. When you listen to national news it seems like all markets are the same, and when Realtors work with buyers, the buyers expect this to be true. In 2006, the NAR released a lot of positive information, but many of its members were going through tough times. The NAR had to be very careful about which ads they used in different areas, because each market is different. They were once able to send the same general message to every market, but within the last few years they have had to do a better job of looking at each market individually in order to decide which ads were appropriate.

In 2009, there are multiple states going through a disastrous real estate market, and they are in a severe recession. Bruce asks if there is a tendency for new legislation to be made, in these kinds of economic scenarios, in order to fix the problem. Pat says that this does occur on a national basis. People once said, “If you can breathe, you can get a loan.” Right now, this is not the case. There are some good buyers who are having difficulty getting loans today.

Bruce asks if Pat was surprised when lenders decided that these new strict lending policies were okay. Pat claims that she was surprised by this. NAR partnered with The Center for Responsible Lending to do research on this subject and when they looked at the results of their research they realized that these lending policies were going to cause trouble. Pat testified before Congress in 2006 and 2007, claiming that these policies were going to cause trouble.

There are many groups within real estate who do not look at other real estate groups as partners. Bruce and Pat think that if these groups would work together that these groups could get much more done for the industry. The NAR meets with companies like Mortgage Bankers Association, Habitat for Humanity, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac. Bruce asks Pat if investors like himself might have something to contribute to these meetings. The Rental Property Association and other major national associations do come together to contribute to these meetings.

NAR just celebrated its 100th birthday, it has 1.3 million members around the United States, it has a staff of lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and it also has relationships with 64 countries. These factors contribute to their ability to be heard in Congress.
Bruce thinks that the input NAR gives in congress is vital, because he doubts that many of the Congress members have the time to read through the bills they sign. NAR’s lobbyists are very well respected and well rated. NAR also has a great grassroots groups. There are Realtors involved in politics and they have the ability to influence members in Congress.

Bruce asks what NAR’s lobbyists do on a regular basis. NAR’s lobbyist help educate Congress. They can take a 400 page document and give Congress members a general idea of what it means and what effect it will have on the U.S. They really help educate.

Hastily created legislation can have unintended consequences. Bruce asks how the Home Valuation Code of Conduct has affected the market. Pat does not think that this legislation has really impacted the market yet. What Realtors are discovering is that all appraisals must go through a new agency that has been formed and this agency is using appraisers who are more desperate. These appraisers are doing appraisals for areas that they are not familiar with, and they are doing these jobs for very low pay.

Pat understands that this agency was formed because people wanted impartial appraisals, but you cannot do an impartial appraisal when you do not know the market. Pat has had trouble completing transactions because these foreign appraisers would appraise her homes at low prices while the sale was being processed. Bruce runs into this kind of problem every time he tries to sell a house. The appraisers are falsely comparing the value of his well fixed homes to vacant REOs. Bruce and Pat think that it would be best if HVCC was annulled. NAR members are meeting with people in Washington and New York to get this legislation changed.

Bruce asks how important the first time home buyer tax credit has been for business. Pat thinks that this tax credit has been fabulous, and she wishes that this tax credit was given to all buyers. In Michigan, first time buyers who were not previously interested in buying real estate are now occupying homes because of this tax credit. A lot of inventory is getting taken off the inventory. Now that those homes are being sold, the sellers are going to able to move themselves up in the market place. Pat also thinks that it would be good if the dollar amount of the tax credit was increased. This tax credit is different from the subprime deals, because people have to qualify for this credit and they must have a down payment. They can now use the $8,000 dollar credit as part of their closing costs, but it is troublesome to go through that process, and Pat has not seen many people doing that.

FHA is becoming more influential in the financing market. Bruce asks Pat if there are any changes she would like to see in that program. NAR is currently working to push the FHA’s maximum price limit increased. For years, no one in California could get an FHA loan because California’s real estate was too expensive. Pat and Bruce are using FHA on almost all of their sales. Bruce dislikes the program that restricts investors from quickly fixing houses so that they can be quickly resold. This program does not allow sellers to use FHA loans for 90 days after the house has been bought. There is a loan for owner occupants right now called the 203K. The 203K helps people buy homes that need fixing. Bruce asks if Pat has seen many of these loans take place in her market. Pat says that she has not. Right now, lenders do not seem to be even suggesting it.

Bruce asks Pat if she is afraid that Congress might try to take tax dollars from interest reductions. Pat is opposed to changing mortgage interest deductions. Every time Congress creates legislation to create money for one thing, they end up taking money away from something else. She knows that the current administration is interested in doing this, but she thinks that it would be a mistake to do that. This market needs as much help as it can get, and doing this might have a devastating effect on markets that are improving.

Pat is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan and is a REALTOR with Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt Realty. Pat was a broker/part-owner of AJS Realty before selling in 2006 to Coldwell Banker Schmidt.

Pat is married to team member Guy Combs and is the proud mother and step-mom to six great kids and grandmother of Ethan, Anna, Claire, Violet and Elsa.

Her career in Real Estate began in 1971 as an agent – then on to getting her Broker’s license and many higher education designations which are: ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Agent), CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), E-Pro, GRI (Graduate Real Estate Institute), PMN (Performance Management Network – Woman’s Council).

Many of Pat’s years were busy serving not only her clients but also her community and her professional associations. Here are a few things of note: 2007 President of the National Association of REALTORS, 2005 – 2008 Officer of the National Association of REALTORS, 2002 – REALTOR of the Year for the State of Michigan, 2002 – Chairman of the Michigan Real Estate Commission, 1997 – Regional Vice President – National Association of REALTORS, 1995 – President of the Michigan Association of REALTORS, 1990 – President of the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS, and 1986 – President of the Michigan Woman’s Council of REALTORS,

For Many Years over the past 35+ years: Board Member of Baxter Community Center, Board Member of West Michigan Fair Housing Center, 4-H Leader (Horse Program), Cascade Township 4th of July Parade Float Contest Sponsor, Board Member of Cascade Township Foundation, Major Gift Chair for WGVU Public TV Auction, Guest on WGVU “Ask the Realtor” TV Program, and Testified before the US Congress and the US Senate.

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