By Michael Theo, RCE, CAE, CEO, Wisconsin REALTORS® Association, 2017 chair of the AE Committee
Well, I didn’t see that coming. Neither did most people. But the contentious election of 2016 is now in the history books and it’s time to ask, “Now what?”
You may disagree with their decision—and there are certainly a great many in this country and likely this association who wanted a different outcome—but the voters have the last word and they spoke. President Donald Trump and his new executive branch of the federal government are making the transition from politics to policy. We must, too.
We must all realize that vitally important policies affecting our industry and scores of property owners will soon be debated and decided in the halls of Congress and the town halls across America. We must engage. This is a time for our members to participate in the lawmaking process, regardless of their political affiliation.
Our members need to take action because the long–predicted federal tax reform debate is upon us. Republicans, now in control of Congress and the White House, generally support broadening the tax base to lower tax rates. This means limitations on key real estate provisions of the tax code will be debated, including the mortgage-interest deduction, deductibility of property taxes, like-kind (1031) exchanges, and the capital gains exclusion. Possible regulatory reforms likely will focus on revising some regulations on financial institutions imposed under Dodd-Frank, the power and reach of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the long-term future of the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to name just a few.
The potential impact of reforms in these and other real estate-related areas will have a significant effect on the national economy, our industry, property owners, our members, and their customers and clients.
So now, we as association executives must focus our attention, and that of our staff, on the task of engaging our members like never before in these epic public policy debates on the horizon. This means we must keep them informed, help them communicate with their elected officials (particularly members of Congress), encourage them to respond to every NAR Call to Action, and motivate their colleagues to do the same.
No matter how you or your members feel about the election outcome, the tax and other industry-related issues that are certain to be debated during the next few years will be every bit as historic as this past election. Our best political message to members: Do not disengage at precisely the moment we, as an industry and association, need to intensely engage. In this cause, we as a REALTOR® family must be united.