REALTORS® have had a remarkable year in advocacy, said NAR Chief Advocacy Officer Shannon McGahn, speaking to a crowded federal issues update at the 2021 REALTORS® Conference & Expo Friday. “We have made resounding progress on all fronts, and we are expecting more by year’s end,” she said.
NAR supported the U.S. Supreme Court case that brought an end to the eviction moratorium, won nearly $50 billion in emergency rental assistance as part of the COVID-19 relief measures that Congress passed in March, and played a prominent role in the debt ceiling and infrastructure debates, she said. In the off-year elections, NAR supported 200 candidates at the state and local level, achieving a 65% win rate. “There’s no such thing as a local versus state versus federal issue. We’re all in this together,” McGahn said. The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which President Joe Biden is expected to sign Monday, contains funding for rural broadband, upgraded water systems, roads, and bridges, and other improvements that REALTORS® have long advocated as national priorities.
In June, NAR released a report with the Rosen Consulting Group, Housing is Critical Infrastructure, that argued it was time for a once-in-a-generation investment in housing. Now, Congress is negotiating Biden’s so-called social infrastructure plan, the Build Back Better bill. It contains an array of housing support, including investment in down payment assistance, affordable housing production, new flood mapping, and increased funding for the low-income housing tax credit. There’s even an increase in the state and local income tax deduction—the SALT cap—from $10,000 to $80,000 through 2030.
Evan Liddiard, NAR’s director of federal tax policy, said NAR is encouraged by the inclusion of funding for the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, which would create a new federal tax credit to bring equity investment into the development and renovation of one- to four-family housing units in distressed urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods. Most importantly, he said, REALTORS® have so far prevented all but one of what Liddiard calls the “Ugly 11”—11 pay-for proposals that would have severely hurt property owners and the real estate industry. Among the proposals that are not in Build Back Better: a proposed limitation on the 1031 like-kind exchange, changes in the step-up basis rules, and a provision that would have killed self-directed IRAs.
“Some people are saying we dodged a bullet,” said Bryan Greene, NAR’s vice president of policy advocacy. “That’s too passive. I want to say we’ve negotiated a ceasefire on these provisions.”
The Congressional Budget Office is preparing a budget estimate for Build Back Better, which could take weeks, McGahn said. During that time, the bill remains fluid, and she said NAR would remain vigilant in communicating with the administration and Congress throughout the process.
To learn more about NAR’s advocacy work, check out its recently updated A-to-Z list.