Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Reno, Nev., has issued the following statement on a congressional plan to pay for extending an expiring payroll tax cut by raising fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
"It is imperative that lawmakers return to the negotiating table immediately to extend the payroll tax cut that expires at year-end. However, Congress must ensure that such an action does not penalize millions of potential middle-class home buyers by needlessly raising the cost of buying a home.
"As the situation currently stands, Congress is proposing to pay for a temporary payroll tax extension through an increase in guaranty fees (g-fees) charged to mortgage lenders by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In other words, Congress is seeking to enact a short-term economic stimulus by taking money out of the pockets of people who need a mortgage and ultimately raising the price of homeownership for all Americans seeking loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
"Using g-fees to fund budget gaps sets a terrible policy precedent. These fees should only be used for their intended purpose - to protect against mortgage defaults and ensure the safety and soundness of the housing finance system.
"The housing market is struggling to emerge from its worst downturn in decades. Placing additional burdens on home buyers would do more harm to the economy than good.
"House and Senate Democrats and Republicans must put aside partisan differences and get this right by coming together now and passing a common-sense payroll tax extension bill that does not hurt home buyers or further threaten to destabilize the housing market."