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Members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® and San Mateo County Association of REALTORS® met with U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo.

Members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® and San Mateo County Association of REALTORS® met with U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo.

Six SILVAR members participated in meetings on Capitol Hill as part of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Midyear Legislative Meetings on May 13-18. They included SILVAR President Carolyn Miller, President-elect David Tonna, Past President Suzanne Yost, Federal Political Coordinator Carole Feldstein, PAC Chair Barb Williams, and NAR Director John Tripp. They met with Anna Eshoo, U.S. Representative for California’s 18th congressional district, which includes parts of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties; Jackie Speier, U.S. Representative for California’s 14th congressional district, which consists of portions of San Mateo County and San Francisco; and Mike Honda, U.S. Representative for California’s 17th congressional district, which includes portions of the East Bay, western San Jose and Silicon Valley.

Members asked their representatives in Congress to:

1. Restructure Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac and Encourage the Return of Private Capital. Members requested that the chairmen of the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee hold hearings that focus on restructuring the secondary mortgage market, and that the emphasis of these hearings be the crafting of comprehensive bipartisan legislation that resolves the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They stressed an efficient and adequately regulated secondary market is essential to providing affordable mortgages to consumers; that the federal government must clearly, and explicitly, offer a guarantee of some mortgage instruments; and that the government’s guarantee should ensure a wide range of safe, reliable mortgage products for creditworthy consumers.

2. Preserve homeownership tax policies. As Congress considers proposals to reform the federal tax code, SILVAR REALTORS® said lawmakers should consider the vital role that real estate tax provisions play in the nation’s housing markets and economy, as well as the financial well-being of Americans and their families. As real estate markets continue to recover, Congress must first do no harm to the following:

• Mortgage Interest Deduction: Oppose efforts to change or eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for primary and second homes.

• Property Tax Deduction: Property taxes paid are properly not considered “income” that should be subject to federal income tax. Congress should not tax “income” that doesn’t exist and oppose elimination of the deduction for property taxes.

• Capital Gains Exclusion for Sale of Principal Residence: Individuals can exclude the first $250,000 (and married couples the first $500,000) of gain from the sale of their principal residence from capital gains tax. This provision allows homeowners to build equity and save for retirement and should be maintained.

3. Preserve the Mission and Purpose of the FHA Program. SILVAR REALTORS® asked their representatives to ensure that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) single-family
program has the tools and policies in place to meet its mission of access to safe, affordable mortgage financing to qualified borrowers nationwide. They said FHA’s single-family mortgage insurance program helps preserve private financing options for homebuyers regardless of local, regional or national economic conditions. They asked that the legislators continue support for H.R. 1145 (Waters (D-CA), Capuano (D-MA)), which provides FHA with the flexibility to make necessary changes to the program, provides taxpayer protections against lenders who make errors of material fact, and improves program oversight. They asked that Congress provide FHA with tools, but also protect FHA from any further restrictive requirements that keep more people out of the program.
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Just back from meeting their state legislators in Sacramento early this month, SILVAR’s leadership team is in Washington, D.C. this week, joining more than 9,000 REALTORS® and guests from across the nation at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo May 13-18. They are meeting with regulators, lawmakers and industry leaders to address critical real estate issues affecting individuals, communities, and the nation.

At a general meeting on Wednesday morning, NAR CEO Dale Stinton told REALTORS® current NAR membership is at 990,000 and that it should exceed one million soon. There are 1,400 local associations; 1,100 have 300 members or less.

During their meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill REALTORS® are urging action toward preserving the mission and purpose of the Federal Housing Administration’s single-family mortgage program, encouraging the return of private capital to mortgage markets, restructuring government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to guarantee affordable mortgage financing is available to creditworthy consumers in all types of markets, and maintaining current tax policies for homeownership and real estate investment. They also are participating in sessions with a number of government officials and industry experts, including representatives from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Fannie Mae, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Reserve Board and Freddie Mac.

“The NAR Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo is an enormous gathering of REALTORS® from every state in the country. We are here to remind our country’s elected officials that home ownership has value for all families,” said SILVAR President Carolyn Miller.

SILVAR members are meeting with Anna Eshoo, U.S. Representative for California’s 18th congressional district, which includes parts of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties; Jackie Speier, U.S. Representative for California’s 14th congressional district , which consists of portions of San Mateo County and San Francisco; and Mike Honda, U.S. Representative for California’s 17th congressional district, which includes western San Jose and Silicon Valley.

Accompanying Miller in Washington are SILVAR President-elect Dave Tonna, NAR Director John Tripp, Past President Suzanne Yost, board director David Barca, Jeff Barnett, Carole Feldstein, SILVAR PAC Chair Barbara Williams, Government Affairs Director Jessica Epstein and Executive Officer Paul Cardus

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This week, for the 12th consecutive year, volunteers from SILVAR lent a helping hand to seniors and the homebound in their communities through SILVAR’s REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP). The seniors, who ranged in age from their early 60s to 100 years old, were more than grateful for the help they received.

The seniors expressed their thanks in many ways – by personally thanking the volunteers, by sending fruit home with the volunteers, and by immediately sending notes and emails of thanks. The following note was emailed by a Los Altos senior homeowner the morning after RSVP volunteers visited her home:

“Your wonderful volunteers came to my home yesterday and provided great services for me! I am so grateful.”

READ MORE HERE

On Wednesday, over 40 SILVAR members joined hundreds of REALTORS® from across the state in Sacramento for Legislative Day, the time of year when California REALTORS® personally meet with their legislators and discuss issues affecting the industry, their clients and their business. REALTORS® make up the largest group to visit Sacramento each year and speak to their local state Assembly and Senate representatives.

Highlights of the California Association of REALTORS® morning briefing at the Sacramento Convention Center included welcome remarks by C.A.R. President Don Faught and other C.A.R. officers, and a special address by Governor Jerry Brown, who noted the importance of REALTORS® and what they do.

“You are in an important place. We have to work with you because you are so powerful,” exclaimed Brown. “We’re all working to make California a great place.”

The governor told REALTORS® that California “is on the move. Great opportunities are happening in Silicon Valley, Orange County … in manufacturing, warehousing, technology. Housing is coming back. We have got to continue.”

C.A.R. Chief Lobbyist Alex Creel briefed REALTORS® on hot issues and important points they needed to convey to their political representatives. They included:
Vote Yes to SB 30 (Calderon) and AB 42 (Perea) – Short Sale Debt Forgiveness. These bills would conform California law to federal tax law, making clear that debt forgiven in a short sale is not income. These bills were placed on “suspense files” because they are deemed to cost a certain threshold and are to be eventually considered once the state budget has passed. In the meantime, families are stuck in limbo because those currently in short sale escrows can’t finalize these transactions without the fear of potentially incurring state tax liability. Sellers need to know now that the debt forgiven is not going to be treated as income for state tax purposes. REALTORS® told their representatives that the state law needs to conform to the federal tax law passed on debt forgiveness. It’s the right thing to do and taxpayers “shouldn’t be held in suspense.”

Vote No to AB 905 (Ting) – Private Transfer “Tax.” This measure seeks to create a private transfer tax to fund environmental improvements to a property and forces a financial burden on future owners of property with no oversight, no accountability, and no limit on how long the tax can be imposed, even years after the improvement has been paid for or the useful life of the improvement has been exhausted. REALTORS® explained there is no connection between the fee and the actual cost of the improvement, no oversight on the entities receiving the funds, no “cap” on the collection or the duration of the fee. Also, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has already adopted regulations restricting the imposition of private transfer taxes.

Vote No to AB 1164 (Lowenthal) – Wage Liens on Property. This bill creates a super-lien for wage claim disputes. Under existing law, trades people and others who work to improve a property have the right to record a mechanics lien against the property for payment for that work. An employee who has a wage dispute can do the same with an employer. This measure seeks to expand the mechanics lien concept so an employee may record a lien against any property owned by the employer, even property that has no connection to the dispute. REALTORS® explained to legislators that legal remedies for wage disputes already exist. This measure denies property owners due process since the lien can be filed without notice or opportunity to contest the claim; the lien would increase the cost of loans and reduce the availability of lending options for borrowers; and the lien would allow an employee’s wages dispute to cloud title on all property owned by the owner.

Vote No on AB 1229 (Atkins) – Rent Control. This measure would dramatically weaken the rent control limitations contained in the landmark “Costa-Hawkins” law sponsored by C.A.R. in 1995. Under this existing law, new construction of rental units is not subject to local rent control ordinances. This measure seeks to use inclusionary zoning to allow local governments to create zones in which certain mandates are placed on builders. In this case, the mandate would be to set aside a certain percentage of units at below-market rent levels. REALTORS® told legislators this measure would discourage the creation of new rental housing at a time when it is most needed. The legislature has repeatedly made it clear its opposition to expanding rent control to new construction.

READ MORE HERE

May 2013
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