GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: The Struggle to Maintain Perspective And Focus on Long-Term Results

Richard Haggerty | April 14, 2021

HGAR Chief Executive Officer Richard Haggerty

For me it’s not easy keeping things in perspective, especially when it comes to politics. I tend to view things in black and white and not the more nuanced grays that typically color the world of Washington, D.C. and Albany, and I also tend to focus on short-term results instead of long-term outcomes.

One of the biggest stories in the news last week was the budget agreement reached by the governor and the legislature. The good news for our industry was what was not included in the budget—no new transfer taxes, no pied a terre tax, and no good cause eviction policies—for now. They could still resurface in separate legislation.

The bad news in the final budget were changes to the state’s tax landscape overall. The budget included substantial tax increases on wealthier residents. I get the arguments—the wealthy can afford to pay more to help those less fortunate, and we need to find the right balance. However, I also understand that New York will now rival California as having the highest tax rates in the country—a dubious distinction at best and not the best illustration of trying to find the right balance in tax policy. The headlines suggesting a mass exodus of the wealthy from New York to other states are already appearing. I’m trying to maintain my perspective and focus on the long-term prospects for the state, but I’m having my challenges.

There was another development this week that reinforced for me the importance of perspective and focusing on the long-term. In 2019 the State Legislature passed the Statewide Housing Security & Tenant Protection Act. Advocates for the legislation argued that tenants had for too long been the victims of greedy billionaire landlords and there had to be a rebalancing of the relationship between landlords and tenants.

Unfortunately, the fact that many landlords are far from billionaires or millionaires, but rather are small building owners who choose to invest in real estate, was ignored, and the pendulum swung too far to the other side of the spectrum. In fact, the legislation disincentivized landlords from investing in the upkeep of their buildings, negatively impacting tenants.

The passage of the legislation also led to an interpretation from the Department of State that the Act prohibited agents representing landlords from collecting commission from tenants. From my perspective this was the height of regulatory overreach. Fortunately, NYSAR and other entities immediately filed legal challenges and successfully delayed the enforcement of DOS’s position. This week, the judge hearing the case reversed the DOS interpretation. Again, the long-term perspective won out over the short-term fears.

Perhaps the best example of maintaining perspective and focusing on the long term is HGAR’s advocacy on co-op transparency legislation in Westchester County. We have been waging this battle for more than two decades, and without counting our chickens before they hatch, we are closer than ever in seeing legislation passed that will require co-ops to provide a reason when rejecting applicants. It would have been so easy to throw in the towel and conclude that we would never succeed, but members like Barry Kramer, Leah Caro, Dorothy Botsoe (all past presidents) and this year’s HGAR President Crystal Hawkins-Syska have refused to back down from this fight on behalf of co-op shareholders and prospective purchasers, and hopefully we will have a new co-op transparency legislation to celebrate in the not too distant future.

We need your help to cross the finish line, so please complete the current “Call to Action” and encourage your fellow agents to do so as soon as possible. To participate in the Call to Action go to: https://www.votervoice.net/NYRealtors/campaigns/83441/respond

Stay tuned and remember to take the long view.

Richard Haggerty
HGAR CEO