Housing Industry Lobbying Pays Off With Aid Extension

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Associated Press reports that government aid for the unemployed will be a boon for the real estate, construction and mortgage industries.

It's not a coincidence: Those industries' multimillion-dollar lobbying campaigns paid off yesterday when Congress passed $20 billion in tax cuts for homebuyers intended to spur the lagging housing market. The president signed the bill into law today.

The legislation, which was a part of a broader extension of unemployment benefits, will provide up to 20 weeks in additional pay to more than 1 million people who are near losing jobless aid or have already lost assistance.

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that realtors have spent nearly $14 million lobbying Congress this year, and the group rallied its 1.2 million members to contact lawmakers and urge them to pass the jobless aid extension.

According to lobbying disclosure reports, the Mortgage Bankers Association spent $658,000 lobbying Congress in the third quarter, much of which was spent pressing for the "Helping Families Save Their Homes In Bankruptcy Act." Likewise, the National Association of Home Builders spent $750,000 lobbying in the third quarter on a variety of issues.

Bill Killmer of the National Association of Homebuilders called the credit "a pretty powerful tool" in getting people contemplating in buying a house to "move to yes and be motivated" to close the deal. Like the Realtors, homebuilders have been citing the tax credit in their marketing campaigns, using the government subsidy to propel their "Buy now!" message.

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