In Tuesday's State of the Union Speech which covered a lot of ground both domestic and foreign, President Obama made only two brief mentions of housing.  The first was a passing reference in the speech's introduction when he said, "Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before."  The second came near the end of the domestic portion of his speech when he told Congress, "...and since the most important investment many families make is their home, send me legislation that protects taxpayers from footing the bill for a housing crisis ever again, and keeps the dream of homeownership alive for future generations of Americans."

Still, housing industry leaders found ways to comment on the speech.  David H. Stevens, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association said, "Just as the President mentioned tonight, we believe that the time is now for Washington to take a more active role in housing reform. Be it through legislation as President Obama suggested, or other measures that don't require Congressional action, strengthening the real estate finance system is good for borrowers and will only improve our recovering economy."

Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said the association agrees with the President that 'the most important investment many families make is their home."  He added that, "Nothing packs a bigger economic punch than home building. Building 100,000 homes creates more than 300,000 full-time jobs and $8.9 billion in tax revenues that are essential to help local communities build schools, hire police and firefighters, and fix roads.

"With the right policies in place, housing can lead the economy to higher ground. Tonight, the President called on Congress to send him legislation that will avoid another housing crisis and 'keeps the dream of homeownership alive for future generations.'  Such a plan must provide proper federal support that will protect 30-year mortgages, limit taxpayer exposure, encourage increased participation from the private sector, and ensure liquidity and stability for homeownership and rental housing."

Cindy Chetti, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs of the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) commented on behalf of NMHC and the National Apartment Association (NAA), applauding the President for "highlighting housing finance reform, immigration and tax reform."  These issues, she said, "directly affect our ability to provide homes to millions of Americans, including student housing, seniors housing, affordable housing and military housing.  

"We applaud the President's support of housing in his speech, but would remind him that housing preferences are changing and a growing number of American households are choosing to rent for lifestyle and financial reasons. The number of renter households grew by almost five million from 2007 to 2012, with this trend continuing over the next decade.

"For that reason, housing finance reform must avoid a "one-size-fits-all" approach. The multifamily market uses commercial mortgage debt products, and imposing single family reforms would jeopardize our ability to meet the nation's need for millions of new rental homes over the next decade."

She said her groups encourage the President and Congress to enact pro-growth tax reform for both individuals and corporations including factors to promote investment in rentals "without unfairly burdening apartment owners and renters relative to other asset classes."   She also urged passage of comprehensive immigration reform "to address the current patchwork of state and local laws. Immigrants are a key driver of apartment demand and an important force in apartment construction and operations."

Reactions of some groups were, at least on the surface, unrelated to real estate.  For example, American Institute of Architects President Robert Ivy said, "The President's focus on economic mobility is timely, considering that the architecture profession is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. That's why we are encouraged to hear the President talk about energy and college affordability in such an explicit way.

He said that among his group's top legislative priorities is reinstating an expired tax deduction that helps make commercial and federal buildings more energy efficient.  "We urge the White House and Congress to make such initiatives a top priority in this session of Congress, and to adopt the AIA's list of legislative priorities (link) as a way to ignite the construction economy by spurring much needed improvements in energy efficiency, infrastructure and resiliency, and create jobs for small business."