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Election campaigns not focused on housing issues

WASHINGTON – Oct. 20, 2016 – Realtors, like all Americans, have a roster of business and non-business concerns when they vote. However, the housing industry has not been a high-profile topic in most national, state and local elections, so the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) created a list of the real estate-focused issues that future lawmakers will undertake – and that Realtors should consider when selecting candidates.
“Lawmakers who ‘get it’ will step up on matters affecting your business,” NAR says.
Key issues on NAR’s legislative and regulatory agenda
Patent trollsThese companies buy and use overly broad patents to try to extract licensing fees from unsuspecting end users of their technology. NAR-backed legislation to curb patent trolls, including those who target real estate companies, has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate and could be taken up in the new Congress.
Data privacy and securityData breaches are growing in number and severity, and lawmakers have responded with a variety of legislative proposals in addition to the laws put on the books by states. NAR supports a single federal standard that tries to protect consumers without imposing an unreasonable burden on businesses like real estate brokerages.
Copyright protectionThe unauthorized use of digital images taken from websites, known as photo scraping, is a growing problem as the number of listing photos online explodes. Changes to the copyright system will make it easier to register group copyrights and permit nonexclusive licensees to seek remedies for copyright infringement.
Mortgage interest deductionLawmakers and administration officials have drafted proposals to scale back the income tax mortgage-interest deduction (MID) and limit which taxpayers can claim it. One plan would effectively repeal the MID for the vast majority of homeowners. This change could have vast negative implications on home prices and incentives to own versus rent.
State and local property tax deductionsA tax reform plan under discussion would repeal the deduction for state and local taxes paid, including the property tax deduction. This would make it harder for homeowners to itemize deductions, reducing the incentive to own a home.
Capital gains exclusion on sale of a principal residenceNo capital gains tax applies to proceeds from the sale of a principal residence, up to $500,000 for a married couple and $250,000 for an individual. NAR wants to ensure the incentive stays in the tax code and also have it indexed for inflation.
Capital gains carried interestCarried interest – investment income for the general partner in an investment partnership who might not have equity in the asset – is being scrutinized. Lawmakers have drafted proposals to tax carried interest as ordinary income rather than as a capital gain, a change that would make real estate investment less attractive.
1031 like-kind exchangesLawmakers have begun discussions on eliminating or curtailing the deferral of tax liability when owners exchange a commercial or investment property for another one of similar value. These tax-deferred like-kind exchanges are being targeted under tax reform proposals of both parties.
State and local transfer taxesAbout two-thirds of states impose a transfer tax on real estate sales, typically a percentage of the price. Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, and others have approved constitutional amendments to ban the taxes. In other states, Realtors are working to get them banned, removed or pared back.
Mortgage financing: GSE reformLawmakers have written legislation to reduce the risk to taxpayers from the two secondary mortgage market makers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. NAR’s position is that the companies should be turned into non-shareholder-owned public entities subject to tight controls. The goal is to ensure uninterrupted availability of mortgage financing in good markets and bad, while a path is cleared for the return of private sources of mortgage capital to the market.
Flood insuranceLawmakers will be looking at federal flood insurance in 2017 because the federal government’s program for making federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners will be up for reauthorization. NAR supports long-term reauthorization of the program and improved flood mapping, streamlined federal assistance for homeowners who want to move to higher ground, and program changes that encourage private insurers to offer competitive lines of insurance.
Student loan debtLawmakers have introduced legislation, backed by NAR, to address mounting student loan debt and its effect on homeownership. The proposals would allow borrowers to refinance their federally backed student loan debt. NAR also wants to ensure mortgage underwriting standards don’t unduly punish borrowers who are burdened with student loans. In addition, better education for borrowers about loan terms and payback rules will benefit students when they apply.
Source: National Association of Realtors®, Robert Freedman
© 2016 Florida Realtors®  
Source: Florida Realtors Feed

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