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Phipps: ‘We Need to Empower the Consumer Voice’

By Katherine Tarbox, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

Realtor Town HallAs the debate in Washington continues over tax reform, a noticeably concerned group of real estate professionals and association members attended the REALTORS® Town Hall at the Doubletree Hotel in Portland, Ore., to discuss the current real estate climate with 2011 NAR President Ron Phipps and NAR Vice President and Liaison to Government Affairs Vince Malta.

Top of mind for many in the audience was the new REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative. If approved at the Midyear Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C., in May, a $40 NAR dues increase would be implemented to fund political advocacy across the country, with two-thirds of the money being directed to local and state associations.

Phipps reminded the audience that these policy funds were used to support six Democrat and five Republican candidates in the last election who strongly supported pro-home ownership policies, as well as lobbying efforts for the home buyer tax credit.

“Home ownership supports government, and we need to work with the government, both national and local, so that it continues to support home ownership,” Phipps said. He noted that 65 percent of those who take advantage of the MID credit earn less than $100,000 a year, and that this was not a benefit for the wealthy. He also stated that they would stand firm to not allow “carve-aways” at the credit, such as eliminating this deduction for second homes.

Beginning this weekend, there will be a REALTOR® Call to Action for members to let their elected officials know they support keeping the MID intact. “We also need to empower our consumers to raise their voice.”

Phipps provided a personal example of how he plans to do this: To get the word out about who supports housing, he will distribute a housing report card to clients that will grades candidates on issues such as whether they support keeping the MID and if they back GSE reform proposals that promote home ownership.

Phipps encouraged members to reach out to him and NAR as they deal with a tough market. “I understand firsthand how tough it is,” he said. “I’m heading back on the red-eye tonight so that I can be at a third showing tomorrow for one of my high-end properties.” Although he’s serving as NAR president, he’s still acting as managing broker for Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I.

While practitioners are concerned about everything from drastic changes in mortgage financing to home values, they are still optimistic about the future.

“I think this market is turning,” said broker Elizabeth Wren Shiffler with Prudential Northwest Properties in Portland, Ore. “It’s about communicating that there are certain opportunities for the right buyer.”

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at bsummerfield@realtors.org.

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