By Robert Freeedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
In a little-noticed but important victory for REALTORS®, particularly those who help households and mom-and-pop owners of small rental properties, Congress this week passed legislation to repeal a short-sighted provision in small business legislation enacted last year (and a similar provision in the big health care reform law) that imposed onerous reporting requirements on small landlords and the real estate practitioners who work with them.
UPDATE: President Obama signed the repeal into law yesterday, April 14, making it official.
The provision required even the smallest property owners — those who might just be renting out a second home or other rental property — to track any work done for them that totals $600 a year or more over the course of a year and to send any vendors whose work reaches that amount an IRS Form 1099, so they can report the income to the federal government. Prior to that change, the reporting requirement only applied to those in the business or trade of rental real estate.
When the provision was included in the small business bill, REALTORS® were among the first and firmest opponents of it, helping to ensure that Congress understood the provision was an example of over-reach that was never intended to burden mom and pop property owners. Members of Congress and President Obama got the message and, in a rare example of agreement between not only Republicans, Democrats, and independents, but also between House and Senate chambers and between the legislative and executive branches, lawmakers agreed the provision needed to come out.
To show his support for repeal, President Obama in his State of the Union address in January pointed to it as an example of something all sides could agree on, that it could and should be repealed as soon as possible. This week it was repealed without fanfare and sent to the President for his signature. “It just involves too much paperwork, too much filing,” the President said back in November.
The action shows members of Congress can work together quickly on issues that are supported on a bipartisan basis, as this provision was.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, Contributing Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Need a laugh or a little amusement to add to your day? Check out this month’s wackiest real estate news at REALTOR® Magazine online. Among this month’s headlines:
- Police Tase Lawn-Mowing Neighbor
- Australian Agents Bet on Lingerie Models to Sell Luxury Home
- Trump Says Gotcha to Gadhafi
- Wheee! Man Uses Slide to Connect Two Penthouses
By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
After fighting real estate transfer tax proposals in their state legislature no fewer than eight times since 2001, REALTORS® in Montana joined with home owners, ranchers, and others to get a constitutional amendment passed last year to prohibit these taxes once and for all. When the amendment came before voters, almost 75 percent supported the amendment to prohibit the transfer taxes.
To play the prominent role that they did, REALTORS® in the state leveraged political advocacy funds and on-the-ground assistance from NAR, and that help, state leaders say, was pivotal to their success. “It was phenomenal,” says Ryan Swinney, president of the Helena (Mont.) Association of REALTORS®. “Without their help, we couldn’t have been [in the fight],” says Ronda Tompers, president of the Montana Association of REALTORS®.”
Tompers and Swinney joined their colleagues and members of NAR’s leadership in Helena last week when NAR’s Home Ownership Matters bus tour stopped outside the Montana state capitol for an event.
At the event, the two association presidents said they support passage of the REALTORS® Political Survival Initiative, which comes up for a vote by the NAR Board of Directors in May, because as they see more efforts to regulate or tax real estate in the years ahead, they want the greatly increased level of advocacy dollars and assistance that the initiative will mean to their associations.
“The issues are just ongoing,” says Swinney.
“Right now we’re fighting issues with subdivision rules,” Tompers says. “We want owners to be able to subdivide their property without going through a lot of hassle and cost.”
By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Recent news stories have pointed out that increases in the value of commodities such as oil and food may lead to alarming levels of price inflation. At the same time, the cost of renting has gone up, and is expected to surge even more this year.
As rising prices gobble up more of the American consumer’s budget, buying a home will be a more attractive proposition. Values have fallen precipitously these past few years, which initially — and, some would say, justifiably — damaged the perception of homes as an investment. But now, affordability is looking as good as it has in decades, especially in relation to renting. In fact, in many metro areas, it’s now considerably cheaper to own than rent.
Combine these pricing trends with moderate improvements in employment, and we’ve got a recipe for a housing turnaround over the next couple of years, with a few caveats: Continue reading »