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NAR continues the fight to protect homeownership, calling out tax reform proposal

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) NAR study finds that the Better Way Tax Reform plan is, in fact, not the better way.



taxes provisions mid reform

Better Way

One of President Trump’s many hardline campaign promises centered on extensive tax reforms that he assured us would lower the tax bills for American families. That’s all well and good.

In fact, there was a Republican tax reform plan in the works long before President Trump took office, informally dubbed the “Better Way for Tax Reform.”

Not happy campers

A new study, commissioned by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and prepared by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) closely examined the “Better Way” proposal, as well as the tax reform outline the White House released in April. The study, “Impact of Tax Reform Options on Owner-Occupied Housing,” found that, if comparable reforms are enacted, many middle-income homeowners may actually face tax increases, rather than the promised cuts. And NAR is not pleased.

The study showed that, while most individuals would receive a tax decrease under these reforms, middle-class homeowners may get the short end of the stick.

Homeowners with adjusted gross incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 could see their tax bill go up by an average of $815.

Loss of savings too

And not only will these middle class homeowners be on the hook for more taxes – they’ll also lose a ton of tax savings. The study estimates that between 2018 and 2027 (in the next ten years), these tax reforms could eliminate 82 percent of the mortgage interest deduction and the real estate property tax deduction.

NAR is ready to fight against this shortsighted slight of homeowners.

“Tax reform and lower rates are worthy goals, but only if we can achieve them in a fiscally responsible way,” said William E. Brown, president of NAR “Balancing tax reform on the backs of homeowners isn’t an option.”

The negatives keep going

As if higher taxes weren’t bad enough, the study also found that a tax reform of this nature could devalue homes by an average of over 10 percent in the near future.
Areas with higher property taxes, and/or state income taxes, could face an even steeper drop.

Pertinent elements in the proposed tax reform plans include: lowering and consolidating marginal tax rates to just three rates; setting the top income tax rate at 33 percent; doubling the standard deduction; scrapping all personal exemptions and all itemized deductions, aside from charitable contributions and mortgage interest, and removing the alternative minimum tax.

PwC estimates that about 35 million households will be claiming the mortgage interest deduction in 2018.

75 percent of those households have incomes between $50,000 and $200,000. NAR estimates that, of those eligible, about 70 percent claim the mortgage interest deduction each year.

Protecting homeownership

“A tax reform proposal that hikes taxes for homeowners is a raw deal, and consumers know it,” says Brown. “Leaders in Washington who are driving tax reform have shown every indication that they have the best of intentions, and we’re hopeful they’ll consider our study as this process plays out in the months ahead.”

It’s important to note that, though NAR is aggressively against any decrease in the mortgage interest deduction, this is by no means an anti-Trump move, or an anti-reform move. This is a long-fought battle on NAR’s part, and they will continue to fight specifically to protect homeownership.



National Homeownership Month: Tales of triumph, yet challenges linger

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Every June, America celebrates National Homeownership Month. It’s a time to celebrate ownership opportunities, and see where to improve.



Glass jar of coins labeled House Fund.

June is National Homeownership Month, a time that as an industry, we take stock of where we stand as a nation and how we can improve the path towards the American Dream. It has become more difficult than in the past – to address the shifting sands of that dream, the following editorial is penned by Bob Goldberg, CEO of the National Association of Realtors®, America’s largest trade association:


The thirteenth house that Kelly Johansen visited that day turned out to be the lucky one.

Alongside her Realtor® Michelle, Kelly spent an entire Saturday in the fall of 2018 touring properties across Northern Virginia. Like many Americans who have purchased a home over the past half-decade, Kelly felt the pressure of an immensely competitive market, particularly in one of the more sought-after regions of the country.

Still, she didn’t want to be rushed into a decision she would later regret. And she was willing to pass up the options that didn’t feel quite right.

Fortunately, after a dozen misses, their last planned stop of the day was the one that would change Kelly’s life.

“After a quick look around, I stood in the living room and I just started crying,” Kelly recounts today from that same room. “I said,

‘Michelle, this is my house. This is my house. I know it is.’

“And Michelle just told me, ‘Don’t cry, we’re gonna get it for you.’ It was a beautiful moment, and I just absolutely knew that this house was destined for me.”

Michelle, of course, was able to help her client close on the house of her dreams. Kelly has now lived in the Arlington, Virginia, townhome for almost four years. Here, in a neighborhood that once served as military housing barracks, she’s built roots, community, and some significant housing equity.

Before making the decision to buy, Kelly rented for nearly 11 years. She longed for homeownership, but as a self-professed “terrible saver,” she didn’t think the goal was realistic. That was until Michelle helped her realize she could buy without bringing 20% to the closing table.

As a single female, Kelly makes up a rapidly growing share of homebuyers in America.

The National Association of Realtors®’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, published in November 2021, found that 19% of all homes sold over the preceding year were bought by unmarried women. This is now the second-largest homebuying demographic in the U.S., behind only married couples.

There are some 83 million property owners in this country. And countless others aspire to achieve their own version of the American Dream. That’s been especially evident as home prices have remained steady while interest rates rise and inflation strains budgets for families everywhere.

This and every June, America recognizes National Homeownership Month.

For NAR, it’s a time to celebrate all of the life-changing, generational wealth-building opportunities that come with property ownership.

We often tout statistics like the one showing a homeowner’s net worth is, on average, about 40 times that of a renter. It isn’t hard to see why, either. The typical U.S. homeowner accumulated nearly a quarter of a million dollars in housing wealth over the past decade.

Still, thanks in part to a historic, nationwide shortage of available homes, too many aspiring buyers remain on the sidelines. This six-million-unit gap is the consequence of decades of underbuilding and underinvestment, according to research conducted last year by the Rosen Consulting Group.

As a result, many of those who are able to find and close on the perfect home can feel like they’ve won the lottery.

That’s a reality that isn’t lost on Dorothy Edwards or her wife, Rachel Pryately.

The newlyweds relocated from Seattle to the East Coast last winter to be closer to their parents and siblings, finding temporary accommodations as they got acquainted with the area. Hoping to start a family, they knew the added support would be appreciated someday soon.

Dorothy and Rachel sensed, however, that they needed to be settled in a community of their own—with a home of their own—before they’d feel comfortable beginning the next chapter of their lives.

Today, as they spend nights on the deck of their single-family home in Huntington, Va., hearing kids outside playing until after the sun sets, they know they’ve found the perfect environment for a young, growing family.

“We are so lucky and privileged to be able to put down roots for our family in this way,” Dorothy reflects today from their home just a few miles off the Potomac River.

“Buying our home and building community has kickstarted some of our life goals and has been so important with all of these upcoming milestones.”

“It’s just such a happy thing. The process of creating a home together with my wife has been so sacred.”

The fact is, however, that the act of becoming a homeowner shouldn’t feel like such an extraordinary, exclusive achievement. It is, of course, a milestone in the lives of so many, and it’s something that should be celebrated for everything it represents: freedom; financial security; safety; comfort.

But this is where we are reminded that the work of ensuring homeownership is available and accessible to everyone in America still has a way to go.

“We never imagined homeownership for ourselves,” Dorothy says. “We didn’t think it was possible for us, so it was never a goal. But once we realized it could be possible, and with the help and support of our families, we went all in and landed in the perfect spot. We are so grateful to have gotten to this point.”

Today, both Dorothy and Kelly say they continue to encourage friends and family who are still renting to make the leap into homeownership.

For Kelly, who works in the service industry, it can sometimes be difficult to convince colleagues – many of whom are reliant on tips and live paycheck-to-paycheck – that they too have the ability to manage and pay down a mortgage.

“I’m super proud to be a homeowner, especially given this market,” she says. “Anybody I know who rents now I’ll tell them, ‘You’re throwing your money away. For the same amount of money, you can have a mortgage.’

“And I know personally they don’t even need to put that much money down. I tell them, ‘Don’t worry, just have a conversation with Michelle and she’ll hook you up.’”

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Side hustle your home for use in film and TV (for BIG bucks!)

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Are you interested in a side hustle and willing to offer up your humble abode to be part of the magic of filmmaking? We give you the details!



As a reader of AG for Real Estate, we know you may be a real estate practitioner, but you’re also a likely homeowner (or have endless clientele that could benefit from the following information, so enjoy)!

In this housing market, no matter what you’re looking for – be it a studio-style tiny home or a 13-bed mansion with a guest house – you’re going to pay top dollar. That was the case for Mary Kay Seery (not to be confused with the MLM) and her husband, Billy Seery, when they moved from the prominent East Village in New York City to a Victorian-style home in Brooklyn.

Their friends heavily questioned the decision, but with Mary being a life-long real-estate broker, she knew the underestimated value – especially when it came to staging it for use in movies or television shows as a side hustle. Their home has starred in Girls on HBO, Mysteries of Laura on NBC, The Affair Season 3 on Showtime, and many more.

“I’m sure we’ve made over $500,000 so far.” The home was purchased for $490,000.

“While state film commissions have increasingly brokered relationships between property owners and filmmakers and location agencies will shop your property for a fee, many – if not most – production companies do it the old-fashioned way. You don’t find them. They find you.”

For example, an anonymous flyer was dropped into the mail slot of a Chicago home in June 2019. The owners, Rian Akey and Shaun Kane, responded immediately to the scout but did not hear back for filming until September that same year. Turns out, the crew wanted to transform the living room of their 1885 Queen Anne home into the Smutny Funeral Home for the FX crime drama Fargo Season 4.

Once agreed, the crew quickly transformed the heart of their home, adding tobacco-stained wallpaper, a swinging entrance door, folding chairs, and flower stands, and last but not least…the casket.

“We had a coffin in our living room for almost a year.”

Due to NDAs, which are standard between homeowners and the location manager, Kane and Akey could not disclose the payment they received for the whole 11-month ordeal. What we do know is that the upfront cost for using the location is relative to labor union fees, production size, the renovation before and after, and how long the shoot will last.

Other stories follow suit all over the US. Carroll Belser, who resides in Sunnyside Plantation in Edisto Island, SC has seen her inherited 1875 family home transform for The Notebook, L.L. Bean photoshoots, Short Term Rental TV Pilot, and more. In Prospect Park South, New York City, Ms. McFeely has allowed her home to be the filming location for A Price Above Rubies, Half Nelson, The Groomsman, and The Great Gilly Hopkins.

Homeowners do warn that there can be mishaps during the filming process. Floors tend to become heavily worn from foot traffic, the crew may want to shoot in a room not originally specified, or filming could get extended for a longer period of time than originally agreed.

However, Ms. Seery says that the follow-up repairs usually whip things right back into shape, but to “make sure you have a good relationship with the location manager,” and to ask for extra payment if necessary.

Still interested in the side hustle and willing to offer up your humble abode to be part of the magic of filmmaking? Contact your local government’s film and TV office to register your home as production-friendly. You can also use online databases to list your home similar to Airbnb, like LocationsHub, Reel to Reel locations, or Set Scouter. You may also just get lucky and have a location scout reach out to with interest in using your home.

All of that to say, using your home for movies or television can be “lucrative, but also disruptive.” Be prepared to renovate your floors, be put up in a hotel, and for film fans to take photos on your front porch for years to follow. Lastly, you should be able to watch the film or show back to see someone “die” in the corner of your living room or take a pregnancy test in your bathroom.

If you can handle all of that, let the cast, crew, and CASH roll in!

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VA loans give veterans the hope of homeownership, the American Dream

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) After a veteran of the US Navy was honorably discharged due to injuries, VA loans offered a chance to pursue homeownership.



Three servicemembers standing in uniform representing their ability to pursue homeownership with VA loans.

On this Memorial Day in America, the following editorial is penned by Bob Goldberg, CEO of the National Association of Realtors®, America’s largest trade association, to offer insight and deep gratitude for the many sacrifices made by our veterans, observing the role we have in helping to make their American Dreams come true:

Leslie Smith and his wife, Beth, don’t have a story too dissimilar from most Americans.

In the early days of the pandemic, the young couple felt smothered by their 700-square-foot apartment in Washington, D.C.

They were fortunate to both have safe, stable jobs, but assumed they’d need a few more years to save up for a down payment on a home that fit them better. Still, feeling restless and unsettled, Leslie and Beth started looking at some larger rowhomes in the city.

Leslie, a veteran of the United States Navy, spent many of his enlisted years stationed aboard the USS Nimitz in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. But his time in the service left him with two bad knees and an injured back, and he was honorably discharged in 2006.

Not long after beginning their home search, Leslie and Beth met a Realtor® who connected them to a loan officer with experience helping military and veteran homebuyers. Through their conversations, they learned that Leslie’s time in the service, coupled with his qualified disability, opened up a world of possibilities they never knew existed through the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program.

The time they thought they’d need to save for a down payment? All but erased, given the terms of the VA loan for which they could qualify.

Concerns that a VA loan wouldn’t cover the full price of a home in the high-cost D.C. market? No problem, as the cap for VA home loans was eliminated in 2019.

And the extra room in their monthly budget they assumed they’d need to cover private mortgage insurance? A non-factor, with Leslie’s service-related disability ensuring their mortgage would contain no PMI no matter how much they put down.

“Right after seeing all of this,” Leslie recounts today, “I turned to Beth and told her, ‘Well, I guess we’re ready now.’”

To hear Leslie and Beth tell their story, one can’t help but feel proud that the VA home loan program is delivering on the benefits promised to those who served this nation in uniform. The couple lights up when discussing the value their home has gained since it was purchased, and they speak with such appreciation for all the people who helped them recognize the opportunities this program afforded.

But through these conversations also comes the realization that so much more can be done to ensure our veterans and their families understand the full scope of benefits available to them.

As they were finalizing the transaction, Leslie and Beth sat down to meet with their tax advisor, himself a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. When Beth disclosed the terms of their new mortgage—specifically the absence of any monthly PMI payment—the accountant assumed there must be a catch.

“You’ll have to pay that money somehow,” he told them. “They’ll get you on it somewhere else.”

“He was completely puzzled,” Beth notes today. “We educated him a little bit… And we’ve since gone on to educate some of our friends who are veterans to make sure that they know this benefit is out there and that they can get into a home with nothing down.”

Since its establishment at the height of World War II, the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program has helped some 25 million U.S. veterans purchase and maintain homes of all sizes in every corner of this country.

Homeownership is the American Dream. But it’s not just about four walls and a roof, a front porch, or a fenced-in backyard for kids and dogs to run.

The American Dream is about what this space represents. It’s about safety and comfort. Financial security. The opportunity to pursue our own happiness on our own property on our own terms. A home is where we are free, where we are loved, and where we are protected.

Homeownership is the American Dream because the places we call ‘home’ represent everything we hold dear as sovereign and fiercely independent Americans.

Every member of our armed services has sacrificed something in defense of these ideals—as have their spouses, children, and parents. We have a responsibility to help them achieve their American Dream.

The National Association of Realtors® has worked from our position as America’s largest trade association to help ensure the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program remains an accessible resource for veterans looking to purchase a home as a benefit for their service.

Earlier this year, we released a two-part video series hosted by our 2022 President Leslie Rouda Smith examining many of the common misconceptions and advantages of the program.

Realtors® can also pursue a Military Relocation Professional certification to better prepare them to work with U.S. servicemembers, veterans, and their families. The program educates NAR members to make sure they are helping military homebuyers find the housing solutions that best meet their needs while taking advantage of every possible benefit.

As part of our broader advocacy efforts in Washington, NAR was one of the loudest voices pushing to remove the cap on VA home loans at the close of the last decade. It’s a change that made a significant difference in the lives of Leslie and Beth, and for countless other veterans like them.

Today, Memorial Day, we remember all those who gave their lives in defense of this country. As we honor their immense sacrifices, we also look for ways to better recognize and repay the men and women who have survived the horrors of combat and returned home to live out the ideals they risked everything to protect.

Because when they do return, access to a safe, comfortable home should never be in question.

“We wouldn’t be here without the VA loan,” Beth says today of their beautiful, equity-rich property in Northwest D.C. “It’s a phenomenal house, we’re super grateful for it, and we want every veteran and military family to be aware that this benefit is out there for them, too.”

Bob Goldberg is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Realtors®

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