With just four days remaining in last year’s legislative session, an age-old puzzle was playing itself out in the New Jersey statehouse: lawmakers were scrambling to find revenue to balance the state’s budget, and negotiations were flying. When New Jersey REALTORS® learned about two proposals that would be seriously detrimental not only to the housing market, but to many businesses that also play a significant role in the state’s economy, they called on their members to make their voices heard. Timely calls for action supported by the REALTOR® Party’s Advocacy Everywhere program got the job done.
As Jarrod Grasso, Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey REALTORS®, explains, both proposals would have hit property owners hard. The first sought to impose a sales tax on seasonal rental properties. “The Jersey Shore and other areas that depend on summer tourism could have suffered greatly,” he points out, noting that, according to one study, the average vacationer in New Jersey spends as much as $1,000 a week on food, transportation, shopping, and entertainment. “The bill would have hurt not only the homeowners who rent out their homes, but also all those businesses that depend on the profits they make during the high season.”
The second proposal looked to increase the realty transfer fee on homes sold for over $1 million, adding a minimum of $10,000 to the expenses associated with selling each such property. “In the Garden State, there are about 60,000 homes within the targeted price bracket, or one in every 43 properties,” added Douglas Tomson, Vice President of Government Affairs for the New Jersey REALTORS®. “For the counties with the highest home values, this added financial burden for aspiring homeowners could have resulted in a flattening of the market, or even an outmigration.”
When news of the real estate budget proposals broke, the New Jersey REALTORS®’ Government Affairs team sprang into action. Using the REALTOR® Party’s Advocacy Everywhere program and social media, they contacted all REALTOR® members, urging them to send messages to their elected officials – and ask family, friends, and clients to do the same. Within just 24 hours, legislators received more than 10,000 messages from the voting public, expressing strong opposition to the two bills. Thanks to RPAC, Grasso and his team have built strong relationships with state politicians supportive of real estate issues, and spoke with them directly. They also sent out press releases to all New Jersey’s major news outlets.
A whopping 17,914 electronic letters opposing the seasonal rental tax and realty transfer fee hike were sent, reports Tomson. “The response to our Calls for Action was so immediate and so strong, that legislators had no choice but to pay attention,” he says: both real estate tax proposals were dropped from consideration on the final day of the session. “We’re grateful to the REALTOR® Party and its Advocacy Everywhere program for making it simple to mobilize our members at a moment’s notice, and to RPAC for its deep support of political team-building. This situation really highlighted how important these resources are to protecting New Jersey’s property owners and its real estate market.”
To learn more about how New Jersey REALTORS® are using the resources of the REALTOR® Party to speak for real estate issues in the statehouse, contact Douglas M. Tomson, Vice President of Government Affairs, at 609-341-7100.