GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Tenacity Can Pay Dividends

Richard Haggerty | December 2018

I rarely look back at previous Articles that I have written for Real Estate In-Depth. December is one of the few times when I make an exception. As the year comes to a close, I like to revisit what was on my mind the previous year, and in reading my article from last year it did bring back memories. Tax reform bills had just passed the House and the Senate and were headed to the reconciliation process. While we did manage to achieve some important modifications to the initial proposals (early stages of the House and Senate versions of the bill called for the complete elimination of mortgage interest and property tax deductions), the final package included a cap on state and local property taxes, which certainly was not helpful to New York homeowners in high tax areas.

The title of my article in the December 2017 edition of Real Estate In-Depth was “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.” Our hope back then was that we could still affect change to the tax reform bill during the reconciliation process, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. The end result is that for 2018 taxpayers are limited to claiming an itemized deduction of $10,000 in combined state and local income, sales and property taxes, starting in 2018 through 2025. The jury is still out on what the long-term effect this will have on the housing market in the New York metropolitan and lower Hudson Valley areas. As previously reported in Real Estate In-Depth, the housing market for the first two quarters of 2018 was fairly strong, though the second half of the year seemed to reflect a softening in the market.

While I think there is a fair amount of trepidation for the housing market in 2019, especially given the recent swoon in the stock market, I’m sticking to my guns, “it ain’t over till it’s over.” As economists like to say, the underpinnings of the economy are still sound and unemployment is at historic lows, especially in our market. Recently both Amazon and Google have announced plans for substantial growth in the New York City area, which should lead to potential new homeowners looking for properties in our market. There are good reasons for optimism.

What also makes me optimistic is the tenacity of our members. The lead story in this issue of Real Estate In-Depth is the signing of the Co-op Transparency bill by Westchester County Executive George Latimer. Realtors in Westchester County have been advocating for this legislation for decades, almost since I first came to work for the Realtor organization in 1984. It would have been very easy to give up on this issue and say it’s never going to become a reality, but the HGAR members would not let that happen and continued to fight the good fight until we prevailed.

We now have co-op transparency legislation in place in both Rockland and Westchester counties and we will continue to advocate for it at the state level. The moral of the story is, never give up or give in when you know your cause is the right cause. I want to acknowledge the efforts of HGAR President Barry Kramer whose tenacity on this issue over the years finally led to a successful outcome.

On a personal note, on behalf of myself and the HGAR/HGMLS staff, I wish all of you a wonderful and safe holiday season and our best wishes for a prosperous and healthy New Year!

Richard Haggerty