PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Pressing Our Case in Albany and DC

Ron Garafalo | June 12, 2019

Hello friends, as we approach the beginning of summer and get close to the halfway point of 2019, I hope that all of you are having a very productive year and are taking some time to enjoy yourself as well. It has been a very busy year for me and one that has reinforced my belief that we have an exceptional association on so many levels. Yes, I know we are not perfect, but I truly believe that we do a great job. As a Board of Directors, we strive to continue to keep our association strong and moving forward in a positive direction, and always remember our goal is to always do what is in our members’ best interest.

Recently, I attended Lobby Day in Albany and HGAR had a great turnout. We had several of our elected officials meet with us as a group as we discussed the issues that are important to us and to homeowners. From what I was told, we (NY State Realtors) had one of the largest turnouts ever. We continued to fight for the First Time Homebuyers Savings Program and transparency in Co-Op housing. I encourage all of you to consider joining us next year when we attend Lobby Day. Those efforts continued in Washington D.C. several weeks ago.

At the midyear meetings in D.C. we (HGAR) had sessions with Congresswomen Nita Lowey’s and Carolyn Maloney’s counsels as well as a meeting with Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. We advocated for meaningful reforms to strengthen the Flood Insurance program, as well as long-term reauthorization. We discussed the need for transportation and infrastructure investments along with changes in the SALT (state and local taxes) provisions of the tax act. I found it interesting that at all those meetings each person we spoke with said they were still fighting to have the SALT tax laws changed, since it is influencing the housing industry.

There were approximately 10,000 Realtors in D.C. that week. Another person who was there at the NAR event was President Donald Trump. I am not going to comment politically as every one of us has the right to their opinions about our elected officials. However, my takeaway of the President of our country having a one-and-a-half-hour session with approximately 4,000 people in attendance is that Realtors are viewed as very important to our country, to the economy and as a voice for supporting the American Dream of homeownership.

We also discussed with our elected officials “Who We Are,” which is the theme of NAR’s rallying cry to instill pride in what we do and all the ways Realtors go above and beyond to improve the lives of our clients, customers and the community. I found it so positive to hear NAR President John Smaby passionately speak about “Who We Are.”

We are more than 1.3 million members strong, 70% of us volunteer in our community monthly, 82% of us donate an average of $1,000 annually to charities, 92% of us have a post-secondary education. Other key data points about our profession include the fact that real estate accounted for one fifth of GDP in 2018, homeowner equity stood at $15.5 trillion in 2018.

The Realtor Code of Ethics is our pledge of honesty, integrity and professionalism in working with folks making what is most likely the largest transaction a person will make.

I hope all of you, like me, are proud of what we do every day. As I have been saying all year, I also encourage all of us to work in the most honest and ethical manner and to always do what is in the best interest of our clients.

We have had a very busy year, with sales being strong for the first six months. As we hit the halfway point in 2019, I ask all of you to join me in thanking our staff. As I said at my installation, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the support of our great team. As we sell thousands of homes, and do billions of dollars in transactions, HGAR’s staff is doing their job in making sure we can do our job successfully. They also work with our committees in organizing the many events, classes and fundraisers that we attend.

Lastly, I want to personally thank both HGAR, the HG Realtor Foundation and HGMLS’ Board of Directors and all of those members who chair, co-chair and volunteer their valuable time to be on a committee, to ensure we continue to do what is best for all of us.

With that, I wish all of you continued success in 2019 and I look forward to seeing all of you at one of our many upcoming events. Have a great summer.

Ron Garafalo
Ron Garafalo is 2019 President of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc