For my colleagues in the real estate industry..."politics makes strange bedfellows"
I'll preface my thoughts by tipping my cap to the memory of Elizabeth Taylor to make a point: when you think of the late Ms. Taylor, what number do you first think of?
If the number is her 8 marriages, may I suggest 100,000,000. Because she raised $100 Million for AIDS research, much of it before anyone else jumped on board. Notable people and notable things are more than what they seem. I'll keep 8 with Yogi Berra.
There has been much written, often with angst, about the proposal by NAR to essentially charge every member another $40 annually to support what is referred to as the "Realtor Party." I have given this some serious thought the past few days and the kernel of my conclusion is what I first wrote on Jay Thompson's article about the matter: I believe that NAR's hand was forced because the important work done by RPAC, the Realtor Political Action Committee, is not supported by enough members.
I am as guilty as anyone. I never knew much about RPAC until I attended NYSAR's mid-winter meeting in Albany last month. There, I saw firsthand the crucial- and I do not use that word lightly- advocacy that RPAC does for our members and industry. I saw a work group of our best and brightest discussing how to address proposed laws in Albany that would impose draconian restrictions on advertisements by brokerages, as if we weren't already over regulated.
For those of you who either say or nod in agreement that your NAR membership is good for MLS membership and little else (see my remark on the late Ms. Taylor), let me give you a few thumbnails on the important work RPAC has taken on:
- RPAC has successfully kept banks out of the real estate industryy. Chew on that if the short sale or REO process work for you.
- New York finally passed a Commission Escrow Act which mandates that sellers who dispute and withhold a broker commission deposit the funds in escrow and go to arbitration. This is far better than having to litigate what in two cases of my own were simply dishonorable deadbeats who thought they'd steal services.
- RPAC is fighting transfer taxes, which are the tax de jour of some municipalities who face the consequences of their bloated budgets. Transfer taxes hurt our industry and really hurt the consumers, especially sellers who need every penny of equity they can get and buyers who are already beset with trepidation in this climate. New York transfer taxes are the highest I know.
- They are working to preserve the mortgage interest deduction, which should need not a syllable of debate in this forum. Not a syllable.