By Brent Wayne
As one of the most effective tax shields of any deduction, the mortgage insurance tax write-off is essential to the protection of the middle class, especially in a volatile economy of uncertainty. Despite their considerable differences on other issues, the legislative and executive branches seemed to come together to protect the mortgage insurance write off for the sake of the overall economy (and most likely their jobs).
Below are just a few reasons why the mortgage insurance write off continues to be one of the most important political and economic initiatives in contention today.
- Most borrowers do not have the ability to pay cash for housing. Not only has the volatile economy consolidated wealth away from the middle class, but it has also stopped much of the housing market in its tracks. People who would normally buy houses are now renting and staying at home. Even those who have the money for a down payment are holding back because of the few extra expenditures that go along with purchasing a home. Those few who still have enough money for a down payment may not have the 20 percent that is necessary to keep from paying mortgage insurance. Without the tax write off for this insurance, most borrowers would end up in default or underwater because of the accruing interest and fees on the mortgage and on the insurance. Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
Approximately 60 REALTORS® from the state of Utah spent last Wednesday afternoon discussing issues vital to the housing market with their Congressional Delegation. The afternoon started with a state caucus meeting with Jamie Gregory, one of NAR’s chief lobbyists, walking us through the major talking points of the day. Then it was off to Capitol Hill to meet with Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, and Representatives Jason Chaffetz, Rob Bishop and Jim Matheson.
The meetings were a tremendous success and we are fortunate in Utah to have a congressional delegation that gets it when it comes to the importance of homeownership.
Following the close of the Senate session, we had the amazing opportunity of a private tour with Senator Lee’s chief of staff, Spencer Stokes. The Capitol was empty and we had the opportunity to enjoy the rotunda with no one else around. There is certainly something about standing in these hallowed halls and quietly soaking in the history and importance of this special place.
Spencer was such a gracious tour guide, showing us amazing places such as the President’s Room, the House Chapel, and a very special visit to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Room. The staff there was wonderful and shared many interesting and insight stories about what happens in that room.
My evening ended on a high note with a private dinner at the Capitol Hill Club with my Congressman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz. I had a great time discussing a variety of things ranging from the presidential election to everyday life with him. As always, it’s a great opportunity to come to Washington, D.C., and spend quality time with our elected officials.
*Originally published on NAR’s Midyear Live Blog.
By Brian Copeland
In late 2010, Rock The Vote commissioned a hefty research project on political issues as they relate to young adults. Some of the findings surprised especially the political parties. For example, 36 percent say that it doesn’t matter to them which party is in control of Congress. A whopping 83 percent say that their generation has the power to change the country. They are also likely to support a candidate who supports investing in new technology to create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
When I look at these figures, they totally support what I heard in our recent YPN Advisory Subcommittee meeting, which was called to discuss The REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative (RPPSI). We came together as a group to discuss the proposed $40 dues increase (from $80 to $120 annually) and whether we as a group wanted to make a statement of support or not. Candidly, I was nervous. This topic has been dominating the real estate blog world for several weeks, and it’s clear that many people are furious about this.
In our meeting, I heard the concerns I had been hearing locally, but I interjected to remind them, “I want to hear what YOU and your YPN locally are saying and thinking about this.” Wholeheartedly, with zero dissent, many YPNers who have spoken out are behind the RPPSI. In fact, one member reported that they polled their YPN members locally and only one person out of 30 brought up an issue with RPPSI. The majority in her YPN said they felt they would be watering down the industry without the RPPSI initiative. Member after member spoke passionately about the need for this.
After I left the meeting, I had to digest. Was I really hearing what I thought I heard? That’s when I started searching out voter information on our demographic, and it hit me. Again, nationally, 36 percent of young voters say they don’t care about parties in Congress, and that statistic supports the notion that our YPNers are not falling into the mindset that RPAC is too partisan. Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
I just got back from the 2011 NAR Issues Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico and wanted to share with the YPN Lounge some of the highlights of this wonderful event. This is, by far, one of my most favorite meetings of the year. It was exciting to see a good number of YPN members in attendance.
The meetings kicked off with a welcome by NAR President Ron Phipps, reminding us that “Home Ownership Matters,” with information and statistics relating to his recent testimony at the capitol. Real estate represents 15 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, and touches almost every aspect of our economy.
We then had a fascinating look at the recent election results and how the current polls are trending with Bill McInturff and Peter Hart. They pointed out that this era will be defined by a massive shift in power from the states and institutions to the people and communities. Confidence in Congress is at 9 percent, and it has been a decade since the majority of Americans have felt the country is heading in the right direction. I did find it amusing that one poll found that 29percent think the economy will get better, while 29 percent think it will get worse… anyone got a coin? Another poll found that 21 percent of Americans believe that their home value is increasing, while 18 percent believe it is decreasing.
Bethany McLean, author of “All The Devils Are Here,” spoke to us about the financial collapse and her inside look at the players involved. Her research into this subject matter was very intense and she had amazing things to share with us. I highly recommend you read her book. She did leave us with a glimmer of hope after she shared so much negative information, when she told us that bad business tends to get the spotlight and press, but that there is much more good business outweighing the bad. Continue reading »
By Michelle Flaherty Philbrook
This is my fourth year taking an active role in one of the most exciting aspects of the NAR Midyear meetings – personally meeting with our congressional delegation on Capitol Hill to discuss issues important to the real estate industry and homeownership. Each year, a group of 20 or so REALTORS(R) from the Maine Association come along, with 8-10 taking speaking roles in one or more of the meetings. We’re briefed on the topics in advance by NAR Government Affairs staff, and given official talking points to guide our conversations.
Effectively presenting a topic to our leaders requires knowledge of the topic, articulate delivery, and lots of confidence – the same qualities that serve us well when giving listing presentations, reviewing buyer agency agreements, and negotiating with fellow practitioners. Really, with the types of issues we deal with on a daily basis (short sales, anyone?), lobbying Congress is a piece of cake.
This year, I was asked to present the topic of GSE (Fannie & Freddie) reform and GSE loan limits to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree at our meeting with her yesterday. To prepare, I went through my normal ritual: Continue reading »
By Heather Soldonia
More scary than mummies, black cats, or cobwebs is the looming question: Has the real estate market bottomed out?
We REALTORS® have been asking Congress “Trick or Treat? … Please come up with some creative ways to revive the real estate market. Pretty please?”
When Forbes reported the 10 worst real estate markets of 2009, eight were in California. Currently, the unemployment rates are still above 12 percent in California — and remember that unemployment rates are only determined based on the number of people still receiving unemployment benefits — it doesn’t include in its calculation those who have received the maximum amount of unemployment benefits and now have absolutely no income.
Obviously, we can understand why so many mortgages are still going unpaid. In California, default notices have dropped by 10 percent, but that is specifically because lenders are modifying loans and/or short selling.
That being said, let’s take a quick moment to consider how the unemployment rate effects commercial real estate: Continue reading »