I have many reasons to support U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, and of all of the reasons that I have, two major issues that came up had to be dealt with on the federal level. Our champion was Rep. Ben Ray Luján in dealing with his protection of our property rights in New Mexico.

For many years, I had the opportunity to serve in several leadership positions and committees with our state and local Realtors. I was made aware of many issues that can affect the sale of a home or a piece of land. One of the issues that arose would have serious consequences in the area of gas and oil production in our state.

In 2017, it was discovered that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had made a change of one single word in one single paragraph in the Federal Housing Administration’s Single Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1 (4). The word “dwelling” was changed to “property,” and that single change caused many homes in gas producing areas of our state the inability to be sold.

The document reads: “Proximity to High Pressure Gas Lines: The Appraiser must identify if the dwelling or related property improvement is near high-pressure gas or liquid petroleum pipelines or other volatile and explosive products, both aboveground and subsurface. The Appraiser must determine and report the marketability of the Property based on this analysis. The Appraiser must notify the Mortgagee of the deficiency of MPR or MPS if the Property is not located more than 10 feet from the nearest boundary of the pipeline Easement.”

Because the word “property” was used instead of how it had been previously been worded with the word “dwelling,” any property, whether commercial, residential, farm or agricultural located within 10 feet of a high pressure gas line could not be sold. Now, if the word had not been changed and had been left as the word “dwelling,” it would make perfect sense that a person would not want their residence within 10 feet of a high-pressure gas line.

I and several other Realtors met with Luján in his D.C. office and explained the situation, and he had his staff on it immediately. Several rounds of back-and-forth drafts immediately followed, and HUD was soon made aware of that the single word change had drastic effects not only in New Mexico but in any state with gas production or any area with a high-pressure gas line.

The second issue concerned the easements in several Northern New Mexico towns and villages that crossed sovereign lands. It had been discovered that many of the easements were no longer being granted, and that affected the clear title to a property due to ingress and egress. Many homes and homeowners were unable to sell their properties or to secure a second loan. Again, this issue was brought to Rep. Luján who immediately began to work with all parties concerned, including the title companies.

His immediate action on both of these property right concerns even furthered my belief in his work for New Mexico and our property rights. Luján has my thanks for his hard work and my support in his bid for the Senate.

Victoria Murphy is a Realtor living in Santa Fe.