Realtors Advocate For Property Owners and Buyers

Lance Evans

The month of May saw Realtors from our area join their counterparts across the state and nation to advocate for consumer friendly real estate issues and oppose measures that would hurt property owners and buyers.

    During the week of May 15 to May 20, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) held its annual Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. Attended by approximately 8,500 attendees from across the country and around the world, the week included about 200 meetings and events that covered many real estate topics and allowed Realtors to take an active role in advancing the real estate industry, public policy, and the Association. 

    The tri-county area attendees included Jennifer Dindl (Humes Realty and Appraisal), Carolyn Gaebel (Bridgeview Real Estate and Gaebel Real Estate Services), Lisa L’Huillier (Hefferon Real Estate), Brittany Matott (County Seat Realty), Al Netto (Weichert Realtors, Thousand Islands Realty), and Jennifer Stevenson (Blue Heron Realty), along with myself. During the week there were NAR and Women’s Council of Realtors committee meetings, idea exchanges with other Realtors and staff, and information and updates that will assist all of us in better serving the area’s real estate consumers.

    On May 18, we met with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and joined colleagues from around the state while meeting with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Charles Schumer. We focused on three main issues.

    The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), of particular interest to our area, is slated to expire on September 30. Without reauthorization, NFIP cannot issue or renew policies in 22,000 communities where flood insurance is required for a mortgage. The NFIP was created to provide incentives for communities to rebuild to higher standards and steer development away from flood zones. In exchange, communities gain access to flood maps, mitigation assistance and subsidized insurance to prepay for future damage and recover more quickly from flooding. The NFIP was last up for reauthorization in 2008. There were 18 short-term extensions and a two-month shutdown before Congress reauthorized the program in 2012.

    We asked our representatives to pass the “Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act,” which passed the House unanimously last year, and to enable consumers to meet federal requirements with private plans that often offer better coverage at a lower cost than the NFIP.

    Tax reform was also on our list of issues. While no tax reform legislation had been introduced as of our meetings, there were several plans that had been discussed. Some of these would lower tax rates and raise the standard deduction, but would pay for these changes by scaling back existing real estate tax provisions. Proposals that limit itemized deductions, even if not directly changing rules applicable to mortgage interest, could have serious negative consequences for homeowners. 

    PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) analyzed a blueprint-like tax reform plan and noted that home-owning families with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 would face average tax hikes of $815 in the first year after enactment, while non-homeowners in the same income range would see an average cut of $516. Currently, homeowners pay 83 percent of all federal income taxes, and this share would go even higher under similar reform proposals. Homeowners should not have to pay a higher share of taxes because of tax reform.

    Further, proposals limiting tax incentives for homeownership would cause home values everywhere to plunge. Estimates provided by PwC show that values could fall in the short run by more than 10 percent, with a larger drop in high-cost areas. It might take years for home values to rebound from such a significant decrease.

    The final issue we spoke about was protecting sustainable homeownership.   We asked our representatives to responsibly reform the secondary mortgage market. Failure to do so, while limiting costs imposed on homeowners, ensure proper loan disclosures, and fund necessary system upgrades for federal housing programs hurts the very fabric and underpinnings of our society.

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac act as a backstop for mortgages and help to safeguard 30-year, fixed rate mortgages ensuring families are not shut out of homeownership. We asked that these entities not be dismantled without identifying a viable replacement.

    The week was productive and informative. It is important that our representatives hear from Realtors advocating for property owners. The information we received at the meetings will assist us as we work for housing opportunities in the area.

LANCE M. EVANS is the executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. Contact him at levans@nnymls.com. His column appears monthly in NNY Business.

NAR releases 2016 buyers profile

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

In November, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the 35th edition of its survey of buyers and sellers. This yearly sampling was based on homes sold between July 2015 and June 2016 and had 5,465 responses.

The median age of all buyers was forty-four and had a gross household income of $88,500. Two-thirds were married, seventeen percent were single females, seven percent were single males, and eight percent were unmarried couples. About a third of all buyers had children at home and fourteen percent owned a second home.

This year’s survey convincingly proved once again that the two most popular resources for buyers remain the internet — 95 percent — and real estate agents — 92 percent. Despite a record high 51 percent of buyers saying they found the home they purchased online, most buyers who used the internet still ended up purchasing their home through an agent — 90 percent.

Of interest to residents in our area, nationally 2 percent of all buyers or their spouses were active duty military and 18 percent were veterans. The active duty buyer is 35 years old, most likely to buy a previously owned home, and half were first-time buyers. Fifty-seven percent rented a house or apartment immediately prior to their home purchase.

Buyers who were military veterans had an average age of 59 and 82 percent had owned previously. However, only 36 percent owned a home immediately prior to purchasing. Eighty-two percent bought a detached single-family home.

In terms of sellers, 89 percent of respondents used a real estate agent. Additionally, 85 percent indicated that they would definitely or probably use their agent again or recommend him or her to others. The typical seller is 54 years old, with a household income of $100,700, and has owned their home for 10 years.


Members of the Jefferson-Lewis and the St. Lawrence County Boards of Realtors joined nearly 20,000 colleagues, industry leaders, and real estate experts from the U.S. and abroad at the 2016 Realtors Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida from Nov. 3 to 7.

This year’s conference theme, “Educate, Innovate, Celebrate,” encouraged Realtors to educate themselves on market trends and key real estate issues, learn about the latest technologies and innovations affecting the industry, and celebrate another year of positive growth. Realtors had the opportunity to make professional contacts from across the globe, as well as attend educational and informational sessions featuring nationally recognized presenters, trainers, and industry experts.

Among the panelists and speakers were Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, who shared the latest outlook for residential and commercial real estate markets; Dennis Lockhart, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Jim Parrott, former economic adviser to President Barack Obama and senior fellow at the Urban Institute; Brian Montgomery, former Federal Housing Administration Commissioner and vice chairman of the Collingwood Group; Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com; Howard Fineman, global editorial director at the Huffington Post; Alex Perriello, president and CEO of Realogy Franchise Group; and senior staff from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Flood Insurance Program. One of the highlights was the keynote given by retired U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell.

Throughout the week, Realtors participated in 100-plus conference sessions, workshops, forums, and classes on a broad range of real estate issues to help prepare themselves and their businesses for 2017. This is one of the many ways Realtors raise their professionalism and skills through specialized knowledge and expertise. Tri-County attendees were Sue Brashaw, Carolyn Gaebel, Debbie Gilson, Lisa L’Huillier, Brittany Matott, Randy Raso, Sue Raso, Jennifer Stevenson, and me.

During the conference, Bill Brown, a second-generation Realtor from Oakland, Calif., was installed as the 2017 NAR President. “In 2017, Realtors will work to keep the issues affecting homeownership  —  whether it be defending the mortgage interest deduction or fighting for more affordable financing  —  a priority on our nation’s public policy agenda,” said Brown. “Realtors are here to encourage our leaders to put forward policies that put the American dream of homeownership within reach for every American whose goal is to own their own home.”

 

LANCE M. EVANS is the executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. Contact him at levans@nnymls.com. His column appears monthly in NNY Business.

August 2016: Real Estate Roundup

Student debt’s impact on home ownership

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

A survey on student loan debt and housing released in mid-June showed that 71 percent of non-homeowners with student loans believe their debt is stymieing their ability to purchase a home and slightly more than half of all borrowers expect a delay in buying a home by more than five years. [Read more…]

June 2016: Real Estate Roundup

Realtors meet members of Congress

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

From May 9 to 14, the National Association of Realtors held its Realtor Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. Approximately 8,500 attendees from across the country and around the world attended the annual conference. The week included about 200 meetings and events that covered many real estate topics and allowed NAR members to take an active role in advancing the real estate industry, public policy, and the association. [Read more…]

March 2016: Real Estate Roundup

Understanding residential transactions

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

In the coming months, I will discuss some common forms a buyer or seller encounters during a real estate transaction starting with the Agency Disclosure Form. This is the one form you should see in any transaction involving real estate agents and sales of property ranging from single-family residences to four-family homes. Remember that all parties should always be given a copy of any contract or form that is signed. [Read more…]

February 2016: Real Estate Roundup

Is for sale by owner worth your effort?

Evans_LanceW

Lance Evans

We are a hearty, independent kind of people in the north country. There are many things we do for ourselves that people in other places hire others to do. Based on data from a survey of homebuyers, selling your property yourself is not something you want to do yourself. [Read more…]

November 2015: Real Estate Roundup

Traditions from around the globe

Evans_LanceWThe saying goes that all real estate is local, but not all homebuyers are local. According to the National Association of Realtors 2015 international homebuyers report, global buyers spent an estimated $104 billion on housing in 2014, an increase of more than $10 billion from the previous year. American real estate is extremely attractive to foreign buyers due to our attractive prices, economic stability, and well-defined property rights. [Read more…]

June 2015: Real Estate Roundup

Realtors lobby for industry in D.C.

Columnist Lance Evans

Columnist Lance Evans

From May 11 to 16, the National Association of Realtors held its Realtor Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. The annual conference continues a tradition that goes back in the national association’s 100-plus-year history. [Read more…]

March 2015 Real Estate Feature: Lori Gervera profile

Realtor’s drive inspires other women

Lori Gervera, associate broker of Keller Williams Northern New York and Lori Gervera Team, Watertown, has worked in the industry for more than 20 years while also managing marriage and raising three children. Photo by Justin Sorensen, NNY Business.

Lori Gervera, associate broker of Keller Williams Northern New York and Lori Gervera Team, Watertown, has worked in the industry for more than 20 years while also managing marriage and raising three children. Photo by Justin Sorensen, NNY Business.

By Lorna Oppedisano, NNY Business

Lori J. Gervera, associate broker of Keller Williams Northern New York and Lori Gervera Team, does one killer balancing act. [Read more…]

March 2015: Real Estate Roundup

Drum, NNY a winning combination

Columnist, Lance Evans

Columnist Lance Evans

Planned. Positioned. Proven. With the approach of the March 20 Army listening session and public rally, that is a slogan we have been seeing and hearing often. The rally and session that follows will take place at Jefferson Community College at 5 p.m. and it’s your chance to tell the Army how you feel about the potential loss of 16,000 soldiers and civilians at Fort Drum. [Read more…]