GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Déjà Vu All Over Again

Richard Haggerty | May 2017

I know. We often sound like a broken record. “Please contribute to the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC)–It’s your safety net and insurance policy concerning Realtor issues and homeownership interests.” “Please respond to NAR’s most recent call to action—you need to let your legislative leaders know how important maintaining the mortgage interest deduction is, or how vital it is to preserve commercial section 1031 like kind exchanges.” I know. We must occasionally sound like Henny Penny proclaiming that the sky is falling down. “Please call your Congressional representatives and let them know how important it is to renew and strengthen the federal flood insurance program.” “Please contact your senators and let them know we are not out of the woods yet and need to extend the Mortgage Debt Tax Forgiveness provision for another year.”

I know. It can seem a bit much. It can seem relentless. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it can seem like “déjà vu all over again.” It’s easy to wonder if our voice even makes a difference. Does one call to action even matter? Are our RPAC dollars even relevant? I know. But here’s the thing, our RPAC dollars do make a difference—a big difference. Our voices are heard. Our calls to action do matter. Ultimately, and most importantly, I truly believe that our Realtor issues and issues related to protecting and promoting homeownership are not just important to our industry, they are vital to the health of the economy.

It’s ultimately our job to be relentless. It’s our job to be constantly at the forefront of issues like preserving the mortgage interest deduction and property tax deduction. It’s our job to make sure our collective voices are heard and, for that, we need your help.

The current majority party in Congress has promised the first comprehensive tax reform bill in decades. There could be many benefits to reforming and perhaps simplifying the tax code, but such reform should not be done at the expense of homeownership. While there is not yet any tax reform legislation introduced in the current Congress, the President has proposed a broad outline for tax reform that does raise some cause for concern, including the proposal to eliminate the property tax deduction and potentially minimize the benefits of the mortgage interest deduction. NAR speculates that if such proposals were codified they could result in a broad devaluation of real estate in the range of 10% or more.

So, it may seem like déjà vu all over again, but we cannot afford to let down our guard. This is a critical juncture and we must be vigilant. So please, contribute to RPAC, respond to calls to action, and involve yourselves in discussions with your neighbors, friends and co-workers about the importance of tax provisions that protect and promote homeownership—the bedrock of our economy. If you do that, collectively we can and will make a difference.

Richard Haggerty
HGAR CEO