A Dececember 11 article in The Hill detailing the top 10 lobbying victories of the year cited NAHB efforts to enact flood insurance reform, noting that “Congress rolled back changes to the nation’s flood insurance program enacted only two years ago, in a victory for the National Association of Realtors, the Independent Community Bankers of America, the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Home Builders, among others.
“Spurred by a spike in insurance premiums, lobbyists fought against fierce opposition from groups that said the subsidized rates from the National Flood Insurance Program could plunge the flood program that took a balance-sheet beating following Hurricane Katrina further into debt.
“Lobbyists were able to permanently roll back flood insurance premium increases that Congress enacted to help keep the program afloat.”
In 2014 alone, NAHB estimates the flood insurance law will result in:
- $755 million more in new home construction because it is now easier for potential new home buyers to sell their existing home and trade up.
- $361 million a year in additional remodeling activity because there is no longer added insurance expense for certain remodeling jobs.
In addition, NAHB played an instrumental role in shepherding through Congress important legislation that helped the housing community:
Farm Bill generates $1.2 billion in additional home building and remodeling. The Farm Bill enacted into law earlier this year is a major victory for NAHB and housing. It includes an important provision championed by NAHB that will help members living and working in rural areas across the nation.
The legislation allows more than 900 communities to retain their status as “rural” areas where residents have access to important rural housing programs that help low- and very-low income households buy their own homes or find suitable rental housing. This will enable millions of Americans to maintain access to critical rural housing programs.
NAHB economists estimate that each of these 900-plus communities will receive on average more than $1 million in economic activity this year in USDA loans and grants for new construction and remodeling – funding that would have been lost had the law not been passed. In 2014 alone, it will generate an additional $1.2 billion in housing investment.
Tax extenders legislation could save builders and home owners more than $2 billion in 2014. In one of their last official acts of business before adjourning, the House and Senate approved H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act, which will renew scores of temporary tax provisions known as “tax extenders” that expired this year. The one-year retroactive renewal, which is through 2014 and dates back to Jan. 1, includes several provisions of interest to the housing community.
- Section 45L Tax Credit for Energy Efficient New Homes. Provides builders a $2,000 tax credit for exceeding energy standards by 50%. The base energy code is the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code plus supplements. Section 45L is expected to save home builders $267 million in taxes for 2014 construction activity.
- Section 25C Tax Credit for Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements. This is a credit worth up to $500 (subject to a $500 lifetime cap), with lower caps for certain products like windows, for consumers to install qualified energy efficient upgrades. Remodelers often leverage 25C tax credits when working with clients. Section 25C is expected to save home owners who remodel $832 million in taxes for 2014 improvements.
- Section 163 Deduction for Private Mortgage Insurance. Allows taxpayers, subject to an income cap, to deduct premiums paid for private mortgage insurance. The deduction for PMI is expected to save home owners $919 million for tax year 2014. See the full list of housing tax extenders.
Workforce Act Funds Training for Careers in Home Building
President Obama in July signed into law H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. NAHB championed this bill because it will help alleviate labor shortages in the housing industry by providing investment and resources to train workers for careers in home building and other industries. In addition, the law reauthorizes the Job Corps and Youthbuild programs as federal programs operated through the U.S. Department of Labor.
Water Resource Development Act will Improve Levees
The President in June signed into law the Water Resource Development Act. NAHB strongly supported this measure because it makes much-needed investments in our country’s underperforming levees, opening the door to new building opportunities.
This measure provides funding to enhance long-delayed flood control projects, ultimately protecting home owners in flood-prone areas. This will enable NAHB members to build homes in areas protected by better quality flood control systems. Housing markets that stand to benefit from authorization include Sacramento, Calif.; Topeka, Kan.; Fargo, N.D.; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.