Advocating for Commercial Real Estate on Capitol Hill

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REALTORS® and leaders from the Akron Cleveland Association of REALTORS® joined nearly 8,500 other guests from across the country in Washington, D.C., last month to attend the 2015 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

While in the nation’s capital, local participants met with Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, as well as Representatives Marcia Fudge, Dave Joyce, Marcy Kaptur, Jim Renacci, and Tim Ryan, and their staffs on Capitol Hill to ensure qualified buyers and investors in the greater Akron and Cleveland communities have access to safe and affordable mortgage financing and protect and advance real estate-related policies.

Attending the REALTOR® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo offers REALTORS® an opportunity to meet face-to-face with decision makers and be heard on the issues that affect the industry and consumers’ ability to buy, sell and invest in real estate. While meeting with lawmakers, regulatory officials and industry executives last week, REALTORS® urged support for the issues that are most important to the industry, communities and the clients that we serve.

REALTORS®’ meetings with each of the members of Congress focused on important residential and commercial real estate issues to homeowners and investors here in Northeast Ohio, such as extending the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act, which expired at the end of 2014 and prevents distressed homeowners from facing excessive income tax bills on forgiven home loan debt.

REALTORS® also urged lawmakers to protect commercial real estate related tax provisions, such as retaining like-kind exchange provisions and making permanent the 15-year depreciation period for leasehold improvements. Since 1921, the Section 1031 provision has allowed investment real estate to be exchanged for property of a like-kind on a tax-deferred basis. REALTORS® emphasized that exchanges are essential in investment and commercial real estate transactions; and if repealed, fewer redevelopment projects will go forward, resulting in fewer new jobs. The like-kind exchange provision provides liquidity to an illiquid asset.

With regard to leasehold improvements, a temporary provision permitting the cost of leasehold improvements to be recovered over 15 years has been in place for many years. Unfortunately, this provision expired at the end of 2014. REALTORS® urged Congress to extend the provision on a retroactive basis. Without action, all costs of leasehold improvements placed in service on or after January 1, 2015, will be recovered over a 39-year period, making such investments less attractive and harm economic growth.

Additionally, REALTORS® advocated legislation to reform patent demand letters, set nationwide data security standards, and pass the Mortgage Choice Act to end discrimination against affiliated lenders.

REALTORS® do so much more than list and sell properties. The discussions we had last week about greater access to safe credit, patent reform, mortgage debt forgiveness tax relief, and commercial real estate tax provisions will help advance policies that strengthen homeownership and property rights and make a positive difference for consumers and our industry.

National Association of REALTORS® President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., praised the Akron Cleveland Association of REALTORS®’ efforts to actively advance the real estate industry and provide a safe and affordable path to homeownership for Americans.

Polychron noted that homeownership and commercial investment help build strong communities and families. With the current policy debates underway in Washington, it’s a critical time for REALTORS® to take action and help shape the future of real estate.

For more information about the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, please contact the ACAR staff at (216) 901-0130.

The post above appears in the June edition of ACAR’s monthly column in Properties Magazine.

Read the column

Properties Magazine is a monthly publication dedicated to realty, construction and architecture in Northeast Ohio.

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