Written by Phillip Moore
In an amazing effort, Fillmore Real Estate president John Reinhardt went to Washington DC to attempt to convince law makers and FHA officials to reconsider a decision that would have resulted in 45 home buyers losing their homes. When Reinhardt heard that the FHA pulled the approval of the Meadowwood at Gateway project in East New York, he knew that he had to do something, and do it fast.
John got in his car and drove to Washington DC, and met up with US Senators, US Congressmen, and a litany of national real estate leaders to try to make a difference.
“People really wanted to help out,” stated Reinhardt, “It would have been terrible if these people were not able to close on their properties.” The people that were affected the most by the FHA decision were those that already went to contract to purchase a home at Meadowwood and were securing financing through the FHA program. FHA financing allows 3% down payment loans to those buyers who have sufficient income and good credit scores.
To top it off, many of these buyers were taking advantage of the $8,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit, and if they were not able to close at Meadowwood, they would have missed the opportunity to take advantage of that program. The FHA financing and the Tax Credit combined, made all the difference in the world to the flurry of buyers that recently made the decision to buy. The loss of this opportunity would have been devastating for these buyers, and many have stated that this might be their only chance to buy.
It seems that the FHA pulled the approval on May 5th because of an interpretation of a stipulation that prohibits the sponsor from renting units. The sponsor has not rented any units since they have taken over but only renewed leased to existing tenants as is required by the NYC Rent Stabilization Code.
“It was an honest mistake, “ claimed Reinhardt, “NYC is one of the only places in the country that have rent stabilization laws that require you to renew leases automatically.” The great thing about the FHA in this case was that they listened to the reasoning and were able to react quickly. There were real people’s lives on the line here, and the FHA did the right thing to protect the opportunity for those new home buyers.
The effort to get the word out was like a demonstration of national politics at its best, and the timing to catch traction, couldn’t be better. As fate would have it, the news from Washington came the same week as the National Association of Realtors descended onto the hill for their annual mid-year conference. If there was a person that needed to be contacted, they were there; all under one roof and most likely in the same room at the same time. Our issue got to the right ears quickly, and it became the talk of the conference. People were aligned from all over the country to save the homeownership opportunity for our people in Brooklyn.
A group of Realtors representing NY made the trip Senator Gillibrand’s office, where she had a particular ear for the project. The good Senator jotted some notes in her book and her assistant followed up with us directly after the meeting.
US Congressman Edolphus Towns was very concerned with this issue, as Meadowwood is in his congressional district. Congressman Towns personally made calls to the HUD Secretary Donovan to make sure that the issue was attended to promptly and properly. We believe that Congressman Towns and his team really came to bat for the community, and we are thankful for their efforts.
“There was a lot of meeting and greeting involved to get the word to the proper people on the Hill,” Reinhardt claimed, “But it’s all worth it in the end to know that we were able to save 45 family’s American Dream.”
That’s what makes it all worth it!
It’s great to see that you can affect change in Washington.