Update (Nov. 7, 2012): Minnesota voters rejected the constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman during the General Election Nov. 6. The measure required a simple majority, however, 51.3 percent of voters opposed the amendment and 1 percent did not answer the question on the ballot.
Tomorrow, Minnesota will be one of four states to vote on an issue related to same-sex marriage. Thirty states currently have constitutional amendments on the books defining marriage as between one man and one woman, the same definition of marriage Minnesota voters are considering. Among those speaking out against the measure is the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®.
In June, MAAR’s board of directors passed a resolution—which they announced in a public statement last Tuesday—opposing the Minnesota 2012 Definition of Marriage Amendment. It’s believed to be the first time a REALTOR® association has taken a position on a constitutional marriage amendment, according to NAR archivists. NAR does not have a position on marriage equality.
Excerpt from MAAR’s resolution:
MAAR supports fair housing access, as well as fair and equal access to all the rights, benefits and privileges granted through homeownership. While LGBT people are not prevented from buying or selling real estate in Minnesota today, nor will they be as a result of the proposed amendment, the fact remains that non-legally married couples do not have the same access to the benefits and privileges of shared homeownership as married people.
The motivation for MAAR’s opposition is the nearly 100 laws in Minnesota affecting home ownership rights for those in a relationship or union not legally recognized by the state, says Mark Allen, CEO of MAAR. “That creates an environment where inequitable situations need to be addressed,” he says.
In fact, one of the current legal challenges facing DOMA — the federal Defense of Marriage Act established in 1996 that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman — is directly rooted in housing. The case of Windsor v. United States, which could make its way to the Supreme Court, is contesting the federal estate tax against same-sex spouses. Continue reading »
When Paul Yorkis was young, his mother took him to the Democratic Party headquarters and asked him to stuff envelopes in support of Adlai Stevenson who ran for president twice during the 1950s.
“It was fun and people were happy I was there,” said Yorkis, president of Patriot Real Estate in Medway Mass., a member of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee, a Democratic National Convention delegate, and national chair of the non-NAR affiliated REALTORS® for Obama.
That experience as a child was formative for Yorkis, who continued to explain that politics is deeply rooted in the lives and culture of those living in his home state of Massachusetts. “In Massachusetts, there’s a few sports – the Red Sox, the New England Patriots, the Bruins, the Celtics, and the other sport is politics.”
Yorkis decided to become a delegate representing Massachusetts at the DNC in Charlotte, N.C., last week, because real estate – among other issues – needs to be represented and addressed at the federal level. He knows how important it is to keep housing front and center when talking to lawmakers – especially the accessibility of the American dream of home ownership, as Yorkis himself experienced homelessness for a short time as a child.
“REALTORS® do amazing things. The reason I’m at the convention is because I believe it’s the little stuff that has the ability to impact politics,” Yorkis said.
Yorkis did leave his mark at the DNC. He submitted testimony to the drafting and platform committee of the Democratic National Committee. Part of the platform deals with housing and the last sentence of the approved platform was adapted from Yorkis’s testimony. It states: “The president remains committed to creating an economy that’s built to last, where home ownership is an achievable dream for all Americans.
Yorkis was one of approximately 20 REALTORS® who served as delegates at the DNC this year. This video looks at how members of the National Association of REALTORS® had an impact that the convention and why political involvement – whether it be Republican or Democratic – is vital to the real estate industry.
By Katherine Tarbox, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said yesterday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that buying single-family homes is such a great investment right now, if it were practical, he’d buy a couple hundred thousand of them. Given how low rates are for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (3.95 percent, according to the Freddie Mac Mortgage Index), Buffett told CNBC’s Becky Quick that homes, held over the long term, provide a better investment than stocks. If you factor in that prices in some areas are at a 10-year low and inventory levels are high, the conditions are ideal for buying.
While the “Omaha Oracle” has been right about a lot of investments, his opinion on housing hasn’t always been on the mark. At last year’s annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting, he said 2011 was going to be the year that housing prices were going to rebound. In a letter to his shareholders sent last weekend, he apologized for being “dead wrong.” He explained his belief that housing is a sound investment at least in part the inventory of new homes isn’t growing at a rate that will satisfy future demand. People living with their in-laws to save money, he quipped, will find that attractive for only so long.
You have to give Buffett credit for putting his money where his mouth is. Home Services of America Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway Affiliate, is one of the largest independent residential real estate and settlement servicing companies in the U.S. While Buffett wouldn’t comment completely on Berkshire Hathaway’s stake with each of the banks, the fund actively invests in them. He says if he could own only one bank stock right now, it would be Wells Fargo.
By Katherine Tarbox, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
In April, Dream Town Realty in Chicago and Groupon tried to bring the daily deal phenomenon to the real estate market. Only 219 consumers purchased the $25 Groupon, which offered a $1,000 cash incentive to buyers who purchased with the brokerage by April 9, 2012, or sellers who listed by the same date. Although the deal didn’t attract the thousands of purchasers that the site is known for, it did generate national publicity for both Groupon and Dream Town Realty.
Groupon is a site popular for deals at local restaurants and retailers. As the daily deal phenomenon grows, consumers are becoming cautious about paying full price — something that was discussed at Real Estate Connect July 28 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. During a session entitled “Daily Deals are the New Opportunity,” Tigue Bonneval, co-founder of HouseTipper.com, talked about how there is space for a home-related deal site.
HouseTipper.com offers a variety of deals, including savings on solar panels or appliances included with the purchase of a condo from a developer. “Most of our deals have tipped,” explained Bonneval, which means that there were enough people interested in the offering that the deal becomes available for all. However, if enough people don’t purchase the deal, then it doesn’t “tip.”
After the valuation of Groupon came in at a $30 billion and they are reportedly planning for I.P.O, it’s no wonder that so many want to jump on the online deal train. Time will tell if it works just as well for real estate as it does for moving inventory out of Gap.