Last week marked the annual National Association of REALTORS® Legislative Meeting in Washington D.C., a notable series of conferences in which NAR members lobby to advance the real estate industry via public policy. Partners Trust Managing Partner Karen Misraje attended the conference to take part in special issues forums, committee meetings, and legislative activities.
Lobbying on behalf of Realtors and homeowners nationwide, Karen was amongst 8,000 others, traveling from far and wide to augment the real estate industry both nationally and within their respective cities. While in D.C., Karen had the pleasure of attending a luncheon in the House of Representatives dining room. Through CLAW, Karen has attended for two years, this year joining district congressmen and senators atop Capitol Hill to lobby for four different bills.
Mortgage Interest Deduction
One of Karen’s primary focuses at the conference was the current state of tax returns. Along with fellow NAR members, Karen lobbied to maintain the Mortgage Interest Deduction, which allows taxpayers who own a home to reduce their taxable income by the amount of interest paid on the loan secured by their principal residence. “It’s not a tax shelter but rather an economy driver,” she said. “When people buy homes they also install pools, buy washing machines, hire landscapers and pick out furniture.”
1031 Tax Deferred Exchange
Under that same umbrella, Karen campaigned for the 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange, which allows investors to sell a property, reinvest the proceeds in a new property and defer all capital gains, facilitating an increased return on investment. Without the 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange, the U.S. wouldn’t have the crucial commercial development it needs to expand a healthy economy. “Every Realtors’ business is directly impacted by this,” explains Karen.
National Flood Insurance Program
Karen also joined lobbyists in campaigning for flood insurance affordability, coverage limits and solvency issues while also encouraging private sector involvement. The aspiration among Realtors is for the renewal of flood insurance year by year under the acronym NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program), which would give essential coverage to people in areas subject to flooding throughout the country. This yearly renewal is crucial in avoiding uncertainty in both the insurance and housing markets.
Lastly, Karen canvassed for federal regulations for PACE loans to Protect Sustainable Homeownership, which encourages safe and affordable energy-related opportunities for all families. The PACE loan finances energy-efficient upgrades and renewable energy installations for residential property owners; however, these loans often hurt the very homeowners they aim to help. With a lack of proper consumer disclosures, people are unable to make prudent housing decisions; thus, federal regulations for PACE loans are imperative to ensure accurate and justifiable disclosures so as homeowners know what they are signing.
The National Association of REALTORS® provides a facility for professional development, research, and exchange of information among its members, the public and government to preserve the free enterprise system and the right to own real property.
“We have a duty to educate our clients and the rest of the world,” Karen says. “And I encourage real estate professionals to support the REALTOR® Action Center and Realtor Party, who work so hard to lobby to get these bills through.”