The Homeowner’s Voice

2013-09-28T12:44:00Z The Homeowner’s VoiceChrystal Caruthers nwitimes.com
September 28, 2013 12:44 pm  • 

New advocacy group aims to represent the interests of homeowners for federal policy

With homeownership rates on the decline, a newly established national alliance wants to be the voice in Washington for those who own.

America’s Homeowner Alliance is the first-of-its-kind lobbying group charged with protecting and advancing the rights and interests of America’s homeowners. It calls itself a nonpartisan organization similarly structured to AARP, but without the age requirements. Any homeowner can purchase a $20 annual membership to participate.

The Alliance expects to have more than one million members in the next five years. It plans to team with homebuilders, title companies and real estate brokers to garner members.

Its mission is to defend the Mortgage Interest Deduction, preserve the low down payment mortgage, maintain the availability of the 30-year fixed rate mortgage and reduce government involvement in the mortgage industry and encourage more private capital.

“Homeowners are easy prey,” says Phil Bracken, a former Wells Fargo executive vice president, now founder and chairman of the Alliance. “The homeowners have had no voice, and that’s what we’re trying to protect.”

Bracken says that the payroll tax cut that was extended two months at the end of 2011 was a federal policy that hurt homeowners, since the cut was paid for by homebuyers.

To fund the cut, he says, Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-backed loans now have a minimum fee of one-tenth of one percent for the life of the loan. Meaning, for every $200,000, there is an extra $15 in fees collected each month.

“The homeowner has no idea,” Bracken says. “Without a voice, this will happen time and time again.”

The alliance plans to be an ombudsman drawing attention to bad policy and service providers. It plans to advocate on behalf of the 75 million Americans who own homes and to offer a discount and rewards program at major retailers.

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