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March 21, 2014
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Johnson-Crapo Housing Finance Reform Bill Gets Multifamily Right

Copyright Orhan Cam

Lawmakers caught spring fever early on Sunday with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, releasing the text of their bipartisan legislation for housing finance reform.  As we reported, it was just last week that Johnson and Crapo announced the key principles for reform behind the legislation, which builds on the work of Senators Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Mark Warner, D-Va.

NMHC/NAA are pleased with the provisions in the legislation that relate to multifamily and applauded Johnson and Crapo’s leadership in an official statement. The provisions clearly represent our hard work as an industry over the past five years focused on getting housing finance reform right for the 35 million Americans who call an apartment home.

The multifamily provisions in the Johnson-Crapo legislation include maintaining the current network of multifamily lenders and servicers, retaining the current private-capital risk sharing mechanisms, and establishing a separate office of multifamily housing within the new Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation.

NMHC/NAA were invited to participate in a White House meeting on Thursday on the legislation that included HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, President Obama’s top economic adviser National Economic Council Director Jeffrey Zients, and other key real estate groups.

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EPA Expands Energy Star to Existing Multifamily, Will Create 1-100 Scoring System

Copyright Nenov Brothers Images
After several years of collaboration with the industry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on March 18 that it will extend the Energy Star rating system to existing multifamily properties.  While newly-constructed multifamily properties are able to qualify for the Energy Star label, existing properties have not been able to take part in this voluntary energy efficiency recognition program.  As part of the expansion, EPA will develop a 1-100 scoring system expected to debut in Fall 2014. 

EPA’s 1-100 Energy Star Program uses property specific information compiled in the Portfolio Manager database to develop an assessment of a property. Properties that score in the top 25 percent are awarded an Energy Star label for one year and must continue to submit qualifying building performance data in order to retain the label.  Those properties that do not qualify for the Energy Star label are still able to use the numerical rating system to gather information about their property relative to other similar properties and to track changes in performance as changes are being made to building operations and systems.

The program has been used by the commercial real estate sector to rate more than 40 percent of the commercial building market – representing over 30 billion square feet of commercial and institutional building space.  

Efforts to develop a multifamily Energy Star program have been hampered by the general lack of availability of whole building energy usage data.  Only properties that are able to furnish this data will be eligible to compete for an Energy Star label although other properties may still use the Portfolio Manager tool to monitor and improve overall building energy performance. Commonly, energy consumption data for individual apartments – representing some 70 percent of total property energy usage – is in the hands of the apartment resident and is not generally available to the property owner or manager.
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NMHC Insider
Support a Multi-Industry Letter to Congress for TRIA Reauthorization Now

NMHC/NAA need your help in ensuring that Congress enacts legislation to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) before it expires at the end of this year.  TRIA was established after 9-11 when the private market refused to offer terrorism coverage. Multifamily borrowers will most likely face significant cost increases if it is allowed to expire and economic development will slow triggering economic instability.

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EPA Defers Action on Stormwater Runoff from Existing Properties

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated on March 19 that it will continue to defer action on a rule that would regulate stormwater runoff from existing properties but stormwater runoff from construction sites continues to be subject to permitting authority under the Clean Water Act. 

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"New York Times" Explores EPA's Proposed Changes to the Clean Water Act

An article in the New York Times on March 12 explores how proposed changes by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Clean Water Act would expand the scope of activities that will require federal permits. Although the article focuses on farmers, this same regulation would impose additional permitting requirements on real estate owners, managers and developers.

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FHA Releasing Updates to Multifamily Guide Book

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is updating the HUD 4350.01 Multifamily Guide Book that covers mortgage servicing activities.  Many of the activities interface with the property owners such as release of reserves, inspections, performance audits, delinquency and default administration and other related activities.   

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Hill Watch
Senate Hearing on Consumer Information, Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches, Wed., March 26
House Hearing on Federal Emergency Management Agency Budget, Wed., March 26
House Hearing on Environmental Protection Agency Budget, Thurs., March 27
American Enterprise Institute "Are the Bubbles Back?" Discussion, Thurs., March 27
Media Roundup
Opinion: Federal Terrorism Insurance Backstop Should be Made Permanent
Business Insurance
Opposition Growing Among Banks, Lawmakers to Camp Tax Reform Proposal
In Camp's Camp: Praising the Effort on Tax Reform
Roll Call
How Janet Yellen is Looking at the Economy
National Journal
Federal Reserve Lays Groundwork for First Interest Rate Hike
Washington Post
Cheat Sheet: Details from the Johnson-Crapo GSE Bill
National Mortgage News
Fannie Mae Wind-Down Deemed Threat to Home Recovery: Mortgages
Fannie, Freddie Bill Leaves Status of Private Shareholders to Courts
The Scoop

Multifamily is Moving Up:  Fannie and Freddie Reform by the Numbers
When it comes to reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, proof of progress for the multifamily industry is in the numbers…literally.  As NMHC/NAA noted in our initial objections to the House’s Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act, there were only 13 references to the term multifamily in the bill. Now, in the Senate’s new Johnson-Crapo legislation released this week (see lead story in this edition for more details) not only is there a dedicated multifamily title, along with a separate Office of Multifamily at the FMIC, but there are 265 references to the term multifamily in the 442 page bill.

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