Check out the latest Community Outreach Grant designed to support association and commercial overlay board efforts to work with public officials and other community leaders exploring ways for your community to make the most of Qualified Opportunity Zones in their Advocacy Territorial Jurisdiction.
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.
This year the GADs chose to support Project Connect, part of the Cincinnati School System, in order to thank and give back to the community that hosted us for the 2019 GAD Institute. Project Connect is the only program in the Greater Cincinnati area exclusively serving children experiencing homelessness. It provides advocacy paired with specialized education services and lifestyle enrichment opportunities throughout the year for children who have neither a voice, nor a choice, in being homeless. Through a collection of stuffed hygiene bags and a GoFundMe page, the GADs collected hundreds of needed hygiene products and raised $10,500, enabling Project Connect to expand their program to 13- and 14-year old children, and serve the roughly 1,700 already enrolled. A special thank you to EVERYONE who contributed!
Property taxes are already plenty high in the state of Wisconsin – the fifth highest in the nation – and in the first budget bill introduced by the new governor, there was a provision to increase them even further. With help from an Issues Mobilization grant, the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA) launched a campaign called ‘Hold the Line on Property Taxes’ that made voters’ preferences abundantly clear to the statehouse.
The 2019-2021 budget proposed by Governor Tony Evers would have lifted a freeze on municipal and county property tax levies enacted by the state in 2011, which has meant considerable savings for Wisconsin families in recent years, explains Joe Murray, WRA’s Director of Political Affairs. “High taxes are already a real problem, especially for aspiring home-buyers and the elderly on fixed incomes,” he says. “The governor’s plan would have made housing even less affordable.”
WRA had the luxury of a two-month planning period before e xecuting its full-blown advocacy campaign, for which it allocated $250,000 of its own funds, in addition to receiving the Issues Mobilization grant. They used a local consulting firm with more than 20 years’ experience in Wisconsin politics to conduct initial polling and frame the onslaught of digital, direct mail, radio, and billboard advertising; they also created a campaign website. Murray notes that, “the old legacy media really worked best in this case. Direct mail, which was superbly targeted, combined with heavy advertising on conservative talk-radio shows, was a powerful combination, and created a significant political force.” Three rounds of mailers were sent out, spelling out the property tax issue and equipped with handy tear-off postcards to forward to the senator representing that household. “Let’s just say the governor’s plan to raise property taxes really touched a nerve,” says Murray. “The reaction was strong and swift, and the Wisconsin state senate did, in fact, ‘hold the line’ on property taxes!”
To help express tax-payer gratitude, the final mailer in the campaign series featured a tear-off ‘thank-you’ card to senators for ‘holding the line’ on property taxes. “You want to reward your friends,” says Murray.
With 32 years on the job and several such campaigns under his belt, Murray is continually impressed by the strength of NAR’s advocacy program. “Seven or eight years ago when the REALTOR® Party was really ramping up and encouraging states to tap into its resources, Wisconsin was glad to do so – and to great effect! We’re grateful to the REALTOR® Party for all the support it makes available to us.”
To learn more about how Wisconsin REALTORS® are keeping vigilant and protecting homeowners from the threat of increased property taxes, contact Joe Murray, Director of Political Affairs, at 608-575-0023.
CHICAGO (August 1, 2019) – Realtors Property Resource®, a nationwide data resource and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Association of Realtors®, is pleased to announce the addition of Qualified Opportunity Zones to its platform. This powerful data layer will allow Realtors® to use RPR’s map interface to analyze and search for properties within the 8,700 Opportunity Zones throughout the U.S.
In Texas, where there’s no state income tax or a state-levied property tax, it’s the tax bills from your county, your municipality, your school district, and various other special districts that’ll get you. All these entities are largely dependent on property taxes to fund their budgets and have benefitted for decades from an outdated and murky tax structure and the steady rise in property values across the state. At the same time, property owners have seen higher and higher tax bills, and more than a few have been forced to sell as a result. Texas REALTORS® have been battling the ‘Hidden Property Tax’ inherent in the system for years, and on June 12, 2019, with a boost from a sweeping Issues Mobilization campaign, the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act was signed into law.
“We are so grateful to the REALTOR® Party for its support of our Hidden Property Tax campaign, which helped shift the statewide discussion on the need for property tax reform,” says Tray Bates, 2019 Chairman of the Board of Texas REALTORS®. “The campaign also provided legislators with the support they needed to feel confident their actions were in the best interests of, and desired by, their constituents.”
“This is huge,” adds Daniel Gonzalez, the association’s Chief Lobbyist and Director of Legislative Affairs. The ‘Hidden Property Tax,’ he explains, results from the misleading claim by local taxing entities that they have not raised ‘taxes,’ when, in fact, they mean ‘the tax rate.’ The rise in appraisal value ensures that their tax revenue increases, along with the tax burden on property owners, despite a level tax rate. If property owners see contesting higher appraisal values as their only recourse, they will inadvertently devalue their investment – and local market values. The new law addresses these issues with two important reforms: first, the creation of online databases providing taxpayers with a transparent understanding of the process that determines their annual property tax bills; and second, a lowered threshold for increasing public revenue via property tax collection and a mechanism requiring voter approval for increases beyond the established thresholds.
The Hidden Property Tax campaign was fully comprehensive, reaching REALTOR® members, consumers, and legislators with a website, social media, direct mail, earned media, and online advertising. As consumer confusion over the property tax structure was a significant part of the problem, Texas REALTORS® made a concerted effort to educate the media about the issues, with enhanced media relations, including a special three-part media-training series last year. “Journalists really are interested in seeking out sources and getting their facts straight,” notes Gonzalez, “and while the challenge is that journalists tend to be transferred to different beats and different markets, we’ll just keep helping them to understand the real estate issues. In the end, we’re building a valuable network of professionals whose business is presenting information to the public.”
Housing affordability is a problem all over the country, Gonzalez adds, noting that another beneficial side-effect of this campaign has been demonstrating to the public that the REALTORS® are not in it for themselves and their industry, but for their clients and property-owners throughout the state. “Making sure homeowners have the information they need about their property taxes is going to result in healthier, stronger communities, and that’s good for everyone. History will show that this legislation will have a tremendous impact on homeownership in Texas.”
To learn more about how Texas REALTORS® have succeeded in reforming the taxation process and protecting property owners in the great state of Texas, contact Daniel Gonzalez, Chief Lobbyist and Director of Legislative Affairs, at 512-370-2143.