10 of The World’s Strangest Buildings

Source: BoredPanda.com

1. Stone House (Guimarães, Portugal):

Stone House

2. Museum of Contemporary Art (Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil):

Museum of Contemporary Art

3. Casa da musica (Porto, Portugal):

Casa da musica

4. The National Library (Minsk, Belarus):

The National Library

5. National Theatre (Beijing, China):

National Theatre

6. Conch Shell House (Isla Mujeres, Mexico):

Conch Shell House

7. Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt):

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

8. Rotating Tower (Dubai, UAE):

Rotating Tower

9. Kunsthaus (Graz, Austria):

Kunsthaus

10. Museum Moderner Kunst (Viena, Austria):

Museum Moderner Kunst

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Conservatorship Takes Center Stage As Next Housing Finance Regime Comes Into Focus

WASHINGTON (November 2, 2017) — Nearly a decade after the federal government took control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through conservatorship, little progress has been made in finalizing housing finance policy that can take the secondary mortgage market beyond the status quo.

Leaders on the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance took steps to change that this week with a hearing titled “Sustainable Housing Finance: Private Sector Perspectives on Housing Finance Reform.”

Industry leaders, including the National Association of Realtors®, testified at the event. Kevin Brown, chair of NAR’s Conventional Financing Committee, told Members of Congress during his testimony that Realtors® have two key objectives in the housing finance reform discussion.

“First, Realtors® want to ensure that in all markets affordable mortgage capital will always remain available for creditworthy Americans,” Brown said. “Second, Realtors® believe that taxpayer dollars should be protected.”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both considered “government-sponsored enterprises,” are responsible for providing liquidity to lending institutions through a secondary mortgage market, where loans are securitized and sold to investors. This activity affords banks and other lending institutions the liquidity to continue making loans, while incentivizing them to make mortgage products like the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage available to middle-class consumers.

NAR has argued that it is time to move Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of conservatorship, which Brown told members of Congress is unsustainable in its current form. Instead, Brown offered a clear vision for a “government-chartered, non-shareholder owned” system that puts its service to homeowners and taxpayers ahead of profits.

“NAR believes this structure, with clearly defined roles and enhanced safeguards, is the best model for the new authorities, because it establishes a separate legal identity from the federal government while serving a public purpose,” Brown said. “Unlike a federal agency, government-chartered organizations are established to be politically independent and often are self-sustaining – not requiring appropriations from Congress. The ability of the authorities to focus on their mission, without the need to chase risky profit-driven opportunities, is an important criteria for Realtors®.”

As part of the reformed system, Brown outlined some important criteria for success including:

An explicit government guarantee of the new authorities.
Putting profits towards capital reserves to alleviate losses that occur during market fluctuations and economic downturns.
Converting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the new authorities to utilize existing infrastructure and capabilities and minimize market disruption.
The government-chartered authorities are preferable to nationalized or fully privatized systems, Brown said, because they could respond to market downturns effectively, while also minimizing taxpayer exposure to losses. Brown also suggested that the new authorities should utilize a regulated, retained portfolio, which could be tapped during a downturn or to test innovative mortgage products.

In the past, NAR contributed to the conversation on how a new housing finance system work in part through a series of principles (link is external) on housing finance reform. As talk of housing finance reform heats again on Capitol Hill, Brown made it clear that achieving success is more important than ever.

“The stakes have never been higher for the housing market and the broader economy,” he said. “Yet, there are sizeable challenges and risks associated with the ongoing conservatorships of the enterprises. Comprehensive housing finance reform enacted by Congress will help address many of these issues.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

House Tax Bill Delivers Tax Hike on Homeowners

Washington, D.C. – November 2, 2017 (nar.realtor) Tax reform discussions took a major step forward this afternoon as leaders on the House Ways and Means Committee released its legislative proposal for an overhaul of the American tax code. The National Association of Realtors® believes the bill represents a tax increase on middle-class homeowners.

NAR logo

“This legislation closely tracks with the House Republican Blueprint for tax reform, which threatens home values and takes money straight from the pockets of homeowners,” said NAR President William E. Brown, a second-generation Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties. “Realtors® believe in the promise of lower tax rates, but this bill is nowhere near as good a deal as the one middle-class homeowners get under current law. Tax hikes and falling home prices are a one-two punch that homeowners simply can’t afford.”

Brown said that America’s homeownership rate still hovers around a 50-year low today. For many middle-class families, buying a home is the single largest investment they’ll ever make, and in fact, the average net worth of a homeowner is 45 times that of a renter. By eliminating or nullifying the incentive for homeownership, however, Realtors® are concerned that homeownership’s wealth-building potential could be pushed out of reach.

Earlier this year, NAR released a full analysis of the House Republican blueprint for reform, finding that it would cause a 10 percent drop in home values and raise taxes on middle-class homeowners by an average of $815.

Like the blueprint, the legislation released today doubles the standard deduction, while repealing all itemized deductions, except for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. NAR noted in its comments on the “Unified Framework” for reform that such a proposal would nullify the homeownership incentive for all but the top 5 percent of tax filers.

This bill, however, goes even further by capping the mortgage interest deduction at $500,000 for newly purchased homes. The legislation also eliminates state income tax deductions altogether, while installing a new cap on property taxes. At the same time, the proposal puts new restrictions on the capital gains exemption homeowners utilize today when they sell their home. The exemption is vital to allowing homeowners to use their equity to pay for retirement and other long-term needs.

“The nation’s 1.3 million Realtors® cannot support a bill that takes homeownership off the table for millions of middle-class families,” Brown said. “We know this legislation is just the beginning of a much longer discussion. Our members will continue to make their voices heard as we push towards tax reform that responsibly lowers rate while protecting the dream of homeownership.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.