In preparation for their visits with congressional lawmakers May 16, members of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Broker Involvement Council were given talking points during their meeting at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. Learn about the four issues real estate pros delivered to members of Congress.
1. Net neutrality. The issue of net neutrality focuses on the concept that broadband networks should be free of restriction on websites and platforms. In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission overturned rules put in place in 2015 that limited internet service providers from manipulating speed and access of online content. “The internet should remain an open environment,” said Jamie Gregory, NAR’s deputy chief lobbyist. “There should not be throttling or blocking by the telecom companies.”
NAR supports the 2015 net neutrality rules, saying it protects real estate websites from unfair competitive disadvantages. The idea is to prevent one real estate website from paying internet service providers for more visibility over another. This includes an opposition to cable and telephone companies having the ability to charge websites for higher broadband speeds to transmit and display audio and video content, which may include property tours and podcasts. Learn what NAR’s Federal Technology Policy Committee had to say on the issue.
2. National Flood Insurance Program. NAR members are urging senators to support the House Flood Reform Bill (H.R. 2874) in order to avoid a lapse in the National Flood Insurance Program on July 31. The bill would fully reauthorize the program for five years. Without reauthorization, the NFIP cannot issue or renew policies in 22,000 communities where flood insurance is required for a mortgage. Additionally, Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) have reintroduced The Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act (S. 563), which would reduce barriers to private flood insurance. It is currently included in the House-passed Flood Reform Bill. NAR also supports an amendment to the House bill that would ensure more accurate flood maps are created.
3. Tax policy. With the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act this year, NAR supports action on the following issues:
- Extending the mortgage debt forgiveness exclusion; without action, homeowners with short sales in 2018 and beyond are vulnerable to paying tax on forgiven mortgage debt.
- The deduction for energy-efficient commercial buildings (179D) also has not been extended to cover the full 2018 calendar year.
- The deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) cap currently has the same $10,000 limit for both single and joint filers. NAR members are urging Congress to support legislation to eliminate this marriage penalty by doubling the SALT deduction cap to $20,000 for joint returns.
- NAR also supports legislation to adjust homeownership tax incentives—such as the SALT cap, MID loan limit, and capital gains exclusions—to future inflation.
4. Equal access to housing opportunities. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. NAR is seeking to bring the law in line with the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. NAR members are asking the House to support H.R. 1447, sponsored by Reps. Scott Taylor (R-VA) and Brad Schneider (D-IL), and the Senate to support S. 1328, sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) to protect Americans from housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Read the entire issue outlines and talking points from the 2018 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.