REALTORS® from across the United States will travel to our nation’s capital for our annual congressional visits with our U. S. Senate and House members and their staff to advocate for issues important to the real estate consumer. Join HAR’s elected leadership, Federal Political Coordinators, and TREPAC Trustees on May 16 and 17 in Washington and work with NAR to advocate for the business interests of HAR members and the real estate profession. If you would like to join in this meaningful experience, please contact Karen Driscoll, TREPAC Director, or me for our office visit schedule.
The National Association of REALTORS® 2018 Legislative and Regulatory Priorities
In preparation for meeting with our Members of Congress, it is important to take a look at the priorities the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has set for 2018. NAR represents over one million residential REALTORS® and commercial practitioners, including brokers, sales agents, property managers, appraisers and counselors. As the largest professional trade association in the United States, NAR tirelessly advocates for substantial policies at the federal level which will protect the U.S. real estate market.
Below is an overview of the 2018 NAR priority initiatives. For the full list, visit https://www.nar.realtor/political-advocacy/federal-advocacy/2018-advocacy-agenda.
New Tax Laws
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law on December 22, 2017, includes many changes to the tax laws that will affect residential and commercial real estate and real estate professionals. Many of the details as to how the new law will be applied and administered have been left to regulators, the Treasury Department, and Internal Revenue Service. Treasury and IRS officials are releasing guidance on the bill. NAR is monitoring the process and will be weighing in as necessary. Changes to keep an eye on are below:
- The 20 percent deduction to Qualified Business Income for Pass-Through Business Entities and Sole Proprietors.
- Indexing to inflation the $750,000 cap on Mortgage Interest Deduction.
- Indexing to inflation the Capital Gains Exclusion on the Sale of a Principal Residence.
- Extending the expired Mortgage Debt Cancellation Tax Relief.
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
Congress must reauthorize the NFIP for five years and include meaningful reforms that open the door to private market flood insurance. While the House has passed the NAR-supported HR 2874, the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, the Senate has yet to act. NAR research shows a potential loss of 40,000 home sales each month should the program lapse.
In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. This order will replace and reverse the 2015 Open Internet Order, which implemented “net neutrality” rules. The 2015 Open Internet Order rules prohibited internet service providers from blocking or degrading of lawful content on the internet. They also prohibited paid prioritization or “fast lanes” on the internet. Once the order becomes final, NAR expects the issue to move to the courts and to Congress.
Net neutrality is important to small, main street businesses like REALTORS® who depend on open internet access every day to run their businesses and serve their customers. Removing net neutrality rules could make it impossible for small real estate firms to compete with larger entities on the internet.
NAR opposed the FCC Restoring Internet Freedom Order. NAR will work with Congress to enact balanced net neutrality rules that will allow REALTORS® to continue to serve consumers efficiently.
Congress must amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently, only half of the country has state or local laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. NAR’s Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to provide equal professional services without discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Association Health Plans
NAR supports a new regulatory proposal issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) in early 2018, which would allow for expanded access to Association Health Plans (AHPs) and potentially provide more affordable health insurance options for REALTORS®. H.R. 1101, the Small Business Health Fairness Act, which passed the House of Representatives in early 2017, also allows an association to sponsor a health care plan, so long as the plan meets certain federal and state statutory minimums. The legislation has not been taken up in the Senate.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Lawsuit Reform
NAR supports H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill requiring plaintiffs in ADA suits to provide specific notice to business owners of violations on their properties, and give the business owner up to 120 days to remedy that violation or make substantial progress before a suit commences. This bill would curb the practice of “drive-by” ADA suits, in which attorneys take advantage of the ADA’s lack of notice requirement and send demand letters to business owners for minor violations. H.R. 620 has been approved by and reported out of the House Judiciary Committee.