I returned Wednesday evening from Raleigh, where I had been attending NCAR's Legislative Meetings.
I was so thrilled to get back to the cool air of the mountains! The temperature in Downtown Raleigh at 5 pm on Tuesday was 103 degrees! By 11 pm, it had dropped all the way to 87! Perhaps the heat is the reason for some of the things that our Legislature dreams up, like real estate transfer taxes.
Speaking of transfer taxes, there is a move afoot to repeal the law that authorized counties to enact a 4/10% additional transfer tax on real estate by referendum. Twenty times, counties have tried to enact suh a tax, and twenty times, the voters have said "no". How much more money should we waste trying to sell this white elephant?
The transfer taxes were defeated in large part due to the efforts of NCAR, using money from our Issues Mobilization Fund. This fund is now somewhat depleted, and is the reason that NCAR members are going to be asked to pay a $70 one-time assessment, and have a $25 per year dues increase. The good news is that you can save $20 off the assessment by paying early.
I can hear it now, and in fact, I have heard it already:" "What are they, crazy? Asking me to spend MORE money, when business is so slow?" Hey, I don't really *want* to spend the money right now, either. My business is slow, too. I'm scrambling to figure out how to make it to my next closing. At least I am fortunate to have the "next closing" under contract already.
There is never a "good" time to put a new roof on the house, or replace the transmission in your car. NCAR having a healthy Issues Mobilization Fund is just as important to your business as the roof over your office or the transmission in your car. Without it, we could nto have fought the winning battle against additional transfer taxes. Without it, we will be unable to mount an effective fight against the services tax that is lurking just around the corner.
Yes, the services tax is back under consideration in Raleigh. If you think that a $70 assessment is bad, just think what a 7% sales tax on your commission would cost! Keep in mind that this would probably also be added to your advertising costs, the cost of your haircut, and the cost of most other services you pay for.
The services tax is just one issue we'll likely have to fight in the near future, and it is a statewide issue. Issues Mobilization Fund money is also used to fight local issues, as well. Here in my county is was quite helpful to have the analysis of a high-powered law firm of our new slope ordinance. We got the analysis, which helped us to participate effectively in shaping the ordinance, and it cost our local board nothing. Issues Mobilization paid the bill. Folks out on the coast are facing regulations regarding coastal stormwater control that threaten to greatly increase the cost of building even basic housing in 20 coastal counties. NCAR will be there to help, assisted in part by the Issues Mobilization Fund.
The assessment and dues increase are bitter medicine to swallow, but it is medicine that we do in fact need. If you have questions or comments on this, I'd love to hear from you.