Welcome to the official blog of Block Real Estate Services, LLC (BRES). BRES seeks to offer insight and news concerning commercial real estate, financial investments, construction and development of the 212 communities we serve locally and nationally.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Block Funds Principal Rallys with the National Association of Realtors

This May, I had the privilege of attending the Mid-Year Meetings for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to advocate for current legislative issues that impact more than 1,000,000 Realtors across the country. With the upcoming election and critical tax reform approaching in the Fall, 2012 is an especially important year for Realtor advocacy. To highlight the importance of the issues at hand, the Realtors organized the Rally to Protect the American Dream at the National Monument that included 13,500 members in person and more than 14,000 members participating online. Several Senators and Congressional Representatives attended the rally to show their support for many of the issues below. After the rally, Realtors from each state went to the hill to meet directly with their respective Senators and Congressional Representatives. 

Some of the issues impacting residential real estate include:
  • Opposing any changes to the current mortgage interest deduction in the tax code
  • Extending current tax laws regarding forgiveness of home mortgage debt
  • The reasonable and responsible reform of government sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in order to provide consumers and small banks with a reliable source of mortgage funding explicitly backed by the government. NAR supports tighter regulation and higher loan standards, but opposes several recent proposals to simply abolish these agencies with no replacement. 
  • Supporting FHA funding and the expansion of certain FHA programs while opposing newly-proposed, burdensome regulations and restrictions
    Aaron Mesmer and other NAR members with Congressman Kevin Yoder
  • Encouraging the lending industry to expedite short sales. At the Mid-Year Meetings, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo made a presentation regarding steps they are taking to improve and condense the short sale process.
  • Advocating for a long-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The issue has been temporarily extended 20 times, creating uncertainty in the marketplace and, in one month where the extension was not completed, more than 40,000 home sales were terminated as a result.  Realtors also met with FEMA representatives to discuss new flood plain maps, which are impractical or arbitrary in many places, creating a hardship on property owners who were previously not included in the flood plain. 

My role was to advocate for commercial issues in meetings with a dozen Senators and Congressional Representatives.  Current commercial issues include:
  • Supporting accelerated depreciation for tenant improvements
  • Increasing the availability of credit to small business owners through an extension of the SBA 504 Refinance Program and other lending proposals
  • Encouraging FASB to reconsider its proposed lease accounting rules and to take into account the negative impact these rules will have on commercial tenants, landlords and investors
  • Allowing for the creation of a covered bond market for commercial property loans
  • Opposing any changes to the carried interest provisions of the tax code related to “sweat equity” in real estate partnerships
  • Preserving 1031 tax-deferred exchanges, a common tool utilized in the commercial real estate industry to encourage reinvestment into the market
  • Lowering tax rates of foreign investors to encourage investment in US commercial properties

The legislators from Kansas and Missouri are generally supportive of Realtor issues, many of which enjoy bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate. However, given the slow pace of an election year, it is unlikely that substantial legislation will be enacted before November. This means that Congress will have less than two months in a lame-duck session to sort out a number of tax reform issues and avoid what the Washington Post has termed “Taxmaggedon,” a confluence of scheduled tax increases and deep spending cuts that could have a substantially negative impact on GDP and job growth.

While this presents some troubling scenarios, it is comforting to know that NAR and its representatives will be monitoring these issues closely to help preserve the rights of property owners and Realtors in 2012 and beyond.

Contributing Author:

Aaron Mesmer
Acquisitions and Investment Sales
Block Real Estate Services, LLC


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