Last week in our Nations's Capitol I was representing The Oklahoma Association of REALTORS® as their President-Elect. A week out of your schedule which happens more than once in a year is something most of us really don't want to do, we would rather concentrate on sales and spend out free time on vacation. However, I can't think of a more crucial time to get out of that mentality than now because much is under assault that makes our carreers possible and this is because homeowner's have so much to lose. Here are some bullet points I came away from D.C. with.
The REALTOR® Rally: Why not start out with the good news, over 13,000 REALTORS® showed up by The Washington Monumnet, and over 14,000 attended in a virtual hookup. This was the largest gathering of REALTORS® in D.C. ever, and was an inspirational event. One of the moving statements was that no American aspires to be a tenant and homeowner's rights should be preserved. You can find out about the rally at http://www.realtoractioncenter.com/realtor-rally. Now for the bad news.
Mortgage Interest Deduction could go away this year: I am not given to paranoia or scare tactics since I think of myself as a pragmatist, but I believe that this is real. I realize that Oklahoma is about the reddest of the red states but talking to our elected officials and sharing notes with other states I found that much of the talk was about going back to Simpson-Boles where in order to reduce debt the MID was on the table. Our state folks told us to acceot it as if it was a done dealand others told me of similar statements. At the end of this year you have the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the debt ceiling agreement and this is an opportunioty for a grand Bargain whihc would include this elimination. It won't kill real estate but I believe it would mortally wopund it.
Mortgage Indebtedness Relief Act: I may live in a state that has fared better than most in the meltdown but my team still did 40 short sales last year. I was the spokeman for my group for two senators and one representative and in all cases I had to explain to them what this was and why we needed to have it extended for two years past it's end on December 31st. This an election year as you all know and bills like this are not high priority. it is important that this most importanrt incentive is extended. i had a call from a 2011 short sale client who received a $20,000 tax bill from the IRS on his short sale and he could not find the HAFA paperwork to show them it was successful and he was relieved of phantom income. Attention bubble states, I am behind you in getting this done and we said so to our people. FYI, it is a top NAR priority!
Federal Flood Insurance Program: This was NAR's top priority. We wanted a 5 year extesion and what we got instead is the 18th extension that kicked the can. We need something more permanent since even states like North Dakotas have suffered devastating loss, not just ocean states. Our national politicians do not want to deal with this and as REALTORS® we know we need certainty.
RPAC: I saved the 800 pound gorilla in the room for last, RPAC. In my 23 year career I have not like everything NAR has done (Hello realtor.com!) but one thing I know where they are superlative is in political action. i realize that the REALTOR® party dues of $40 pissed off made a lot of people mad but i support it and we will use it in our state and it is separate from RPAC contributions. I have been privileged to do out 2000 sales in my career and I live a great life that allows me to work as hard as I want to, play as hard as I want to, and set my own schedule. This is all in danger now, and this is not a Republican versus Democrat or Liberal versus Conservative issue. The housing industry is 15% of GDP and no recovery is robust without it. I am a Sterling R which is $1000 to RPAC and I am looking to contribute $2000 more before the end of the year. I am not telling you what to do but if you do not invest in your business by giving something to RPAC then think about a real estate industry without NAR or without your voice being heard on a state and federal level. Think about Kansas where the Governor is ending the mortgage interest deduction, or West Virginia where you can do a BOP but you can't be paid for it. or any number of states that are figting a tax on commissions. As Ben Franklin said during the American revolution "we must all hand together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately". It was just ten years ago when i said I would never give to RPAC, now I am working to make up for it. I hope you feel the same way.