Murkowski Bill Delivers Housing Results Before Votes Are Cast

Senator’s Short-Sale Legislation Creates Momentum, Brings Change

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Murkowski’s “short sale” bill introduced in February to improve the nation’s housing market has already created momentum and movement within the industry. This week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to adopt guidelines similar to those in Murkowski’s legislation, to ensure communication between lenders and potential buyers of short sale homes – homes where the owners owe more on their house than the asking cost and are willing to take a loss.

“Whether it’s through Congressional action or industry initiatives, there are many ways to open the lines of communication,” said Murkowski.  “I’m proud that the legislation I crafted with my colleagues is getting results and will help potential buyers get answers – but the need is bigger than one agency; we still need a national standard for all lenders.”

On February 16th, Senator Murkowski introduced The Prompt Notification of Short Sale Act with Senators Scott Brown (R-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to create a fixed timetable for real estate transactions to be accepted, denied, or countered by the lender – or inform buyers an extension will be necessary. Presently, when owners are underwater on their homes and willing to take a loss, it can take months for lenders to respond to potential buyers. The legislation would compel lenders to communicate with buyer within 75 days or face a fine.

The National Association of Realtors credited Murkowski and her colleagues for this week’s move – but say the bill is still needed.  “Their leadership on this issue helped raise the attention needed to make the short sales process more efficient,” said NAR President Moe Veissi. “While these new guidelines will hopefully help close short sale transactions at higher rates, we believe legislation is still needed to impose mandatory deadlines on all loan servicers.”