The Voice for Real Estate 93: Fraud, Rural Win, Water Rule, CARE

NAR leaders met with the FBI on wire fraud in home sale transactions. REALTORS® won on two federal issues at the end of 2018: a revamped Waters of the U.S. rule that provides the kind of clarity that NAR sought, and a provision in a new farm law that keeps the rural population threshold at 35,000 people. That and other NAR-backed provisions ensure no disruption for people looking to federally backed Rural Housing Service mortgage financing to get into a home. Also, NAR released a report showing the extent to which REALTORS® are involved in their community. NAR also provides an economic outlook going into 2019.

Video Transcript

NAR meets with the FBI on wire fraud in real estate

New data on how much Realtors help their communities

And Realtors meet with the government on how to balance development with environmental needs

These stories and more on The Voice for Real Estate

Hi, I'm Stephen Gasque with the National Association of Realtors.

Real estate transactions are one of the biggest targets of wire fraud. That's because the big money involved in the transactions make them tempting targets. The FBI reports that almost 10,000 people lost more than $50 million last year in real estate-related wire fraud. To help get a handle on the problem, officials from the FBI met with NAR President John Smaby and several real estate brokers at NAR offices December 11.

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NAR will be meeting again with the FBI on these crimes. We'll keep you updated on that. In the meantime, you an get strategies for protecting yourself and your customers from wire fraud in the latest Window to the Law video from NAR.

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No one knows better than you just how vital Realtors are to their communities. But now we have numbers to back that up. NAR has released data showing that more than 80 percent of Realtors donate money to charity every year, compared to 57 percent of the general population. Here's NAR's Jessica Lautz on another big finding from that research.

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You can access NAR's new report, called Community Aid and Real Estate, or the CARE Report, on nar.realtor. Just search the term "Realtors are generous."

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Some good news on the environmental front: the federal government has proposed a rule that provides a clear standard for determining which bodies of water require federal approval under the Clean Water Act before developers can move to the next stage on projects. NAR says the rule is a big improvement over the confusing and overly broad standard that's in place now. Here's Bob Turner, a past president of the Realtors Land Institute, and Kathy McQuilkin, chair of NAR's Land Use Committee, on why the rule is a big win for real estate and private property rights.

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NAR has been working with the federal government on this “Waters of the United States" rule for some time now. Learn the details at nar.realtor by searching the acronym "WOTUS."

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Another important win in Washington. Congress just passed a farm bill that includes something NAR has been working on for years: a requirement that the federal government continue to use current rules for determining what's a rural area. That means households in hundreds of communities that could have lost their eligibility for safe and affordable mortgage financing backed by the Rural Housing Service no longer face that prospect-for many years. Here's NAR's Megan Booth with more.

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Rural communities that have prisons or military bases get a boost too, because the prisoners and service members who are in those communities won't be fully counted against the population tally.

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The economy faces a lot of uncertainty in the short-term, given the volatile stock market and the potential for a trade war between the United States and China. But long-term prospects for the economy and for housing? They remain good, because the economy's fundamentals are strong, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

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Good prospects on the commercial side, too, especially in markets like Kansas City, Jacksonville, Fla., and Rochester, N.Y. where market indicators are positive. for all property types. Here's NAR's George Ratiu with more.

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Here's the bottom line for you: Expect a solid market in both residential and commercial real estate in the months ahead. But - keep a lookout for a possible drop in the stock market or a trade war, which could disrupt this positive commercial real estate forecast.

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The year's winding down, and that means it's time to be thinking about your final 2018 tax filing. This is the first year you can take the new 20 percent business income deduction. If you haven't talked to your accountant about that yet, now is the time to do it. You can also get tips on what to do in a series of videos from NAR on the tax changes enacted in 2017 that affect you and your customers. To access these videos, go to nar.realtor and search "2018 tax update."

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And that's our show for the week of December 17. All of us at The Voice for Real Estate hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season. We'll be back in January to bring you the latest news that's important to you as a real estate professional. For today's video, you can get more on everything we talked about at The Voice for Real Estate page on nar.realtor. Be sure to join us again when we return next year with the latest news on The Voice for Real Estate.

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