The HBA’s Presidential Award is the only award presented at the discretion of the HBA President, making it a special acknowledgement of an individual’s commitment and service to the HBA and the home building industry. The recipient of the 2011 Presidential Award is a true champion for our industry, Senator Johnny Isakson.
Senator Isakson has been and continues to be a strong and solid voice for housing in our country. He is a businessman, a public servant and family man whose common-sense approach and conservative values have made him a leader in Georgia for over 30 years.
He began his business career in 1967 when he opened the first Cobb County office of a small, family-owned real estate business, Northside Realty. He later served as president of Northside for 20 years, presiding over the company’s growth into the largest independent residential real estate brokerage company in the Southeast and one of the largest in America.
He entered politics in 1974 and served 17 years in the Georgia Legislature and three years as Chairman of the Georgia Board of Education. In 1999, our recipient was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the first of three terms before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He will be up for reelection to the Senate in 2012.
In Washington, he has proven to be a leader who gets results. Among his accomplishments are:
- He helped pass the largest tax cut in a generation in 2001. He is still working to make it permanent.
- When the mortgage and financial crisis hit in 2008, he drew on his decades of experience in real estate in offering solutions to reduce the inventory of foreclosed homes and to restore the nation’s housing market.
- When things were the bleakest for our industry, he championed the passage and extension of the Home Buyers Tax Credit.
- He introduced the Hardship Outlays to protect Mortgagee Equity (HOME) Act that allows a taxpayer to withdraw money from a qualified retirement plan penalty free to make mortgage payments toward his primary residence.
- He led the charge, with Senator Menendez of New Jersey, to maintain the higher loan limits for the GSEs and FHA. The Menendez-Isakson amendment got 60 votes in large part due to his efforts and reputation on housing issues. At the end of the day, we only got the extension on FHA loan limits, but we wouldn’t have gotten there without him.
- Once again, he led the charge, almost singlehandily, against Qualified Residential Mortgage, which would have required, among other things, 20% down payments to get the best mortgage rates. His efforts brought enough attention to the issue where now the Administration has taken no further action on QRM. He held press conferences on the issue and really got the QRM story out there.
- Most recently, he introduced the Mortgage Finance Act of 2011 that transitions and creates a new regulatory framework for high quality mortgage securitization for both single family and multifamily mortgages. This legislation will resolve and eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (through orderly receivership) while fully paying back the American taxpayer for the cost of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bail out. This legislation will insure that the mortgage market will not be disrupted as it creates a new facility to guarantee securitizations of high quality QRM single family and multifamily mortgages.