The first six weeks of 2017 have been busy with planning our year’s schedule, our Board planning workshop, OAR winter meetings, and finalizing the books for 2016.
On the national front the 115th Congress has begun and the newest Members of Congress have been sworn in and are getting familiarized with their new offices. What about Tax Reform? Here is what NAR has learned so far. The Trump administration along with the Republican Congressional leadership intends to use a legislative vehicle called Budget Reconciliation to move Tax Reform. NAR is already engaged with key members of the tax-writing committees in the House and Senate, on both sides of the aisle, to outline our positions on Tax Reform. NAR outlined our opposition to the tax reform proposal known as the “Blueprint” in a letter to the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee in December. The focus of the letter was to oppose potential changes to the standard deduction and the elimination of most individual deductions. This one-two punch would eliminate the tax advantages of homeownership. The letter did not address the many other real estate tax provisions that may emerge as potential targets as the reform process moves forward. NAR is committed to protecting real estate tax policies in their entirety, residential and commercial. Tax Reform Materials are available on NAR.org for you to review.
The OAR Winter meetings were held from January 14th – 17th. For 2017 I am serving as the MLS Forum Vice-Chair and as such I was as to be part of a discussion panel on MLS Consolidation. This is NAR’s new project to follow up Core Standards. The questions that were discussed are listed below;
1. What do you think are the factors putting pressure on MLSs? (Zillow, copyright, etc)
2. How can MLSs work to assist independent brokers and agents of small companies while not interfering with large broker services?
3. With projects like the Broker Portal and Upstream, how does the local MLS stay part of the conversation; Do we have any ideas how MLS rules will be maintained, and do you have any Brokers participating in any of the beta testing.
4. NAR's Danger Report suggests that the current MLS-centric era might be coming to an end. There is a strong likelihood that the MLS may lose its exclusive positioning as the principal source of real estate listings with the entry of a new player. Is it too late to save MLS as we know it? Will a single portal like Upstream work?
5. Does your MLS Committee or MLS Board have an appraiser or appraisers serving on the Committee? Do they vote? If so, have you seen that to be a positive addition?
6. Is it the MLS's position to ensure that consumers are always receiving valuable and accurate information, or the Brokers?
7. Looking into your crystal ball, where is the MLS going?
This was a good discussion and this will continue to be a NAR item at this year’s meetings.
Our Accounting firm was in the office on January 20th and started our tax returns and our financial audit review. All accounts were in good order and all required documents were available for him. We ended the year with a small profit and our tax liability should be negligible.
The office received several calls and emails in regards to Broker items and I will be reading a letter from D.J. on this matter to the Directors. We also have had a complaint concerning advertising claims using MLS statistics.
I received a message from the President of the Hartland Board asking to attend a meeting with their personnel committee to discuss shared services. President Alex and I did travel to Findlay on the 14th and they requested that we continue to explore this matter further.
The registration for the NAR Legislative meetings opens on February 15.
David W. Freitag, RCE CEO