Is anybody out there? Year after year it seems like we browbeat our fellow REALTORS® into investing in their business and protecting the home owners they serve with RPAC contributions. You would think we would give up, but we never will. The stakes are too high and those who would take our rights away are yelling louder. So for those of us who care, we will give and we will keep hammering away until you get the message.
I am sure you’ve heard the old saying, “I have bad news and good news, so which do you want to hear first?” In this case, I’ll share the good news first. After personal meetings with Senator Inhofe—who has told us we can do fine without the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) and that real estate is sold in Canada without the MID—we have had a breakthrough. In the recent “tabula rasa” Baccus-Hatch Bill that seeks to eliminate all deductions and asked Senators to say what they would want to stay in the tax code, we have had a major victory. Senator Inhofe has declared that the mortgage interest deduction should be preserved. We have worked hard for this victory, so not only does RPAC work, those of us who are behind it with our time and answers to the NAR Calls for Action will now work even harder for our American home owners and our industry.
Now for some bad news. It is not just the crackpots who are against us. Robert Shiller of the well-respected Case-Shiller index has now spoken against not just the MID but even the idea of owning a home. Mr Shiller has said it limits mobility and hurts the economy because owning a home locks you into a specific geography, so you can’t go where the good jobs are. This may have been true in 2008, but it is a ridiculous statement for 2013.
I do respect Mr. Shiller for calling the housing meltdown before it happened, but it is sad to me he may be influential on taking away home owner rights. Read on for why he is wrong.
The housing market has made a remarkable recovery that is ahead of schedule. And now only 15% of home owners owe more than their home is worth. This means most homes are now sellable and with an equity position. Mr Shiller should also understand what it means to have a liquid or a marketable asset. Liquid means you can convert it into cash immediately. Marketable means that an asset is eminently sellable and can be liquidated quickly.
Notice how fast Oklahoma homes are selling? I agree that renting can make you mobile, but also there is a lease that costs to be broken for that new job somewhere else, and without an equity stake, it costs you to move and you may not have the money to move without borrowing.
Owning a home is not for everyone, but for those that it is, it is a major source of wealth or maybe just enough equity to make a better life for your family elsewhere. It is unfortunate we have these people against us and that their credibility makes our fight harder. The most important thing to remember is we should not fight amongst ourselves and instead must be unified. You need to give whatever you can to RPAC, because like when the banks wanted to take over our business, againwe are facing a serious threat. No, I take that back, it is multiple threats we are facing. No one is quite as big as the banks, but you add them up: the elimination of MID or a tax deduction for property taxes, the end of capital gains exclusion up to $500,000 on the sale of a home, a complete stop to 1031 tax-deferred exchanges that allow investors to buy even more rental property, a tax on commissions, and I can go on. You can’t even come up with $15 for RPAC? Shame on you! Are you really in this business?
I am passionate about this business. In fact in my 24th year, even more so. I wish all my colleagues could be major donors, but I know everyone can’t afford to do that. I want you to know I care more about those at least giving than those who go the $1,000-or-more route. Those of us who can go all in always do. But I will not measure you by the level of your donation. You should be measured by the level of your concern, your passion, your involvement, your vote, your answers to the calls for action, and your being a part of a national REALTOR® effort to safeguard the rights of all to own a piece of the American Dream.
If you give, it will be like Victor Lazlo at the end of Casablanca saying to Rick, “Welcome to the fight. This time I know our side will win.”