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Real estate agent group spent $6.1M lobbying in 3Q

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WASHINGTON -- The National Association of Realtors spent $6.1 million in the third quarter to lobby the federal government on housing, mortgage industry regulation, foreclosures, taxes and other issues.

That's down about 14 percent from the $7.1 million the trade group spent in the second quarter, but up 35 percent from the $4.5 million it spent in the third quarter last year, according to an Oct. 20 filing with the House clerk's office.

Among the issues that the group lobbied on: health insurance, regulation of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, flood insurance, access to wireless networks, patent reform, data privacy and security, the inclusion of energy costs in mortgage underwriting, limiting homeowner and investor foreclosure losses, and increasing lending caps on credit unions.

A key issue for NAR this year has been trying to convince lawmakers to raise the size of mortgages that government-controlled companies can buy or guarantee.

A temporary increase in those limits -- which vary by market, but go as high as $729,750 -- was rolled back on Oct. 1.

But NAR has continued to press for lawmakers to raise the limits again, arguing that will make it easier for homebuyers to obtain financing.

This month, House and Senate negotiators reached a deal that would let the Federal Housing Administration insure mortgages worth up to $729,750 in the most expensive regions of the country for the next two years.

However, the negotiators would not increase the current $625,500 limit on mortgages that can be backed in expensive communities by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled mortgage giants, and by the Veterans Affairs Department.

Realtors had been pressing for lawmakers to raise the loan limits for all four entities.

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