Friday, September 4, 2009

National Real Estate Investors Association #138

This week Bruce is joined by Rebecca McLean and Charles Tassle. Rebecca is the Executive Director of Nation Real Estate Investors Association, and Charles is the Director of legislation affairs.

From 2000 to 2005 NREIA’s membership greatly increased. In 2002, NREIA only had 44 groups. In 2004-2005 the membership grew to over 200 groups, and in 2006-2007 the membership grew to 250 organizations. Rebecca estimates that NREIA’s peak membership was around 45,000. NREIA is a federation of local real estate investing associations. Since the market peaked, NREIA has gone down to 230 groups, but there are still people sending in applications every day asking if they can start a local REIA.

Bruce wonders if some of these groups have developed from a group of speculators to a group of investors in which they have the mentality of holding on to real estate. There are more experienced people in the real estate business now than there are people who are new and curious about real estate.

Charles believes it is better to approach legislation with a group of people who are viewed as investors rather than speculators. When NREIA representatives present themselves to state and federal legislation, they try to explain to the government that they are just as much of an investor as they are a local business owner. They contribute a significant amount to the community just like associations such as CAR and NAR. Bruce thinks that too many associations approach Congress with a single minded purpose. They do not consider the investors when they work with the government to change things. Rebecca agrees with Bruce on this issue. What makes NREIA unique is that membership includes Realtors, appraisers, and investors, and this has helped open the eyes of government leaders to realize that NREIA’s members represent a different segment of the real estate industry.

California has too many homes that are going to go back to the lenders in disrepair. Most of the loan programs are geared towards selling the next home to owner occupants, but owner occupants will not be interested in buying these damaged homes. These loan programs will not work without the help of investors, and NREIA has tried explaining this to congress.

Part of the purpose that NREIA has in coming before Congress is to gain respect, so Congress will be more interested in hearing NREIA’s opinions on important topics. Congress has a niche mentality. Each Congressional office latches onto different groups that deal with specific issues.

Bruce has interviewed many people and he has found that people appreciate when he helps to explain what his interviewees are trying to write about. Bruce asks if Charles gets to assist Congress by explaining legislation. Charles says that Congress does ask for NREIA’s perspective.

Bruce asks how politically motivated Congress members are to stand up for certain ideas that may be unpopular. Charles says that in the end, it comes down to the impact of voters. NREIA is supporting the bill HR 3440 which changes the way Realtors and dealers are recognized so that people will not be considered a dealer just because they have done a couple installment loans. This will increase the number of land contracts. As NREIA has explained this to Congress, they gained an understanding of how their voters would benefit from the bill and they started to gain interest in the bill.

203K loans were once available to investors, but that program was taken away from investors in 1996. The program allows people to get financing for a house including the repairs. Bruce asks if it is politically unfavorable to help investors. Charles says that investors are no longer an unfavorable group to support. The mortgage brokers and the appraisers are currently the politically unfavorable groups. People who are rehabbing properties are considered politically favorable. REIA has been making an effort to display investors as an important group of people in the real estate industry. Communities that were once not so open to investors are now open because investors have done a great service for them. There are a lot of misconceptions about what happens to an area when there are a lot of rentals there. Bruce was recently interviewed on a television show and the people who viewed his properties were astonished and pleased by the results they saw. People need to be exposed to the changes that investors make in communities. The work that investors do increase employment, increase the values of neighborhoods, and also increase tax revenue. Rebecca estimates that investors contribute about $3 billion dollars to the economy because of the other businesses that are affected by investors.

Bruce asks how investors can send a message to the people who are in charge of financing options that we need more generous financing because it is very difficult to get financing for rentals and properties that need to be fixed. Charles says that banks are looking for a 750 credit score. Right now the banks are sitting on a lot of cash, and NREIA is hoping that HR 3440 will help encourage the banks to lend that cash out.

Right now there is a program that gives owner occupants an $8,000 check for buying their first property. Bruce thinks that it would be better if existing loans could be taken over subject to without worrying about an assumption fee or the lender calling the loan due. FHA once had a loan in which people did not have to qualify for taking over the payment. Under this loan, all you had to do was send in a fee. Bruce asks if there has been any talk about this sort of loan being available again. Charles says that this has not been discussed, but the chances of this showing up will increase as long as NREIA has an influence on Congress.

In California, there are many investors who 1031 exchanged to other states, but cannot return back now. If they exchange without financing, they will have to pay a hefty tax bill, and they cannot get financing once they pass the 10 property limit. A lot of the decisions we are making are preventing our problems from being solved more easily. Rebecca says that part of the problem is that making good changes, which will help investors, may not be politically favorable. As investors continue to be displayed in a positive light, our chances of having helpful legislation get passed will increase.

Bruce asks what date NREIA’s “Day on the Hill” is scheduled for. This event traditionally goes on during April. The technology conference is coming up soon. This conference will allow NREIA to tell people about what NREIA is doing legislatively. NREIA is trying to make investors look good to the public. Information for “Day on the Hill” will be posted on the website after the technology conference, and people will also have the ability to register there.

Bruce asks Charles if there are any bills coming up that are bad for investors. Charles says that there a couple bill trends that are concerning. One is the foreclosure moratoriums, and there is a foreclosure modification process being proposed. This means that judges or someone else will be given the power to modify loans. This modification process is meant to save people from foreclosure, which seems good, but if we do not deal with our problems on a piece by piece basis we will cause more problems.

To find out more about the National Real Estate Investors Association, visit their website at

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