With Trump in power and Republicans taking the House and Senate, what does this mean for real estate practitioners and homeowners?
Did the election help or hurt real estate?
Regardless of how you feel about the national election results, it appears homeowners, realtors and the real estate industry overall will benefit from them.
“It was a great night for us,” NAR Senior Vice President Jerry Giovaniello said regarding the Realtor Party results. RPAC won over 90 percent of races in which it was involved. In addition, RPAC was also extremely successful in state and local races. For example, RPAC supported Governor-elect Gary Herbert (R-UT), Governor-elect Phil Scott (R-VT), and a constitutional amendment in Missouri to ban sales taxes on services.
Will Trump support tax reforms such as changes to the Mortgage Interest Deduction or 1031s?
Under a Trump administration, Giovaniello says that because of Trump’s knowledge of real estate and development, he will have valuable input to offer Congressional tax committees. It appears, however, that with Republicans at the helm, several tax incentives could be at risk.
When politicians say we must “simplify tax codes,” Giovaniello hears it as a euphemism for “going after home ownership incentives” like the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID). There are already proposals on the table, and Giovaniello says they’re already talking to the authors on both sides of the aisle.
“The Realtor platform did mention that [the MID] is important, but they weren’t very specific, nor were Democrats on this,” noted Giovaniello. What does a Trump presidency mean for the MID? “We’re not exactly sure,” given that what will be prioritized won’t be clear until he is sworn in. Trump has indicated he supports the MID, however, and Giovaniello points out that Trump “knows the tax code as far as real estate is concerned, and has used it very successfully.”
1031 exchanges are in the cross-hairs, and Giovaniello says both Congress and the administration have said we should limit these tax deferrals. There are proposals from both sides to limit 1031s, with the belief that the same numbers of transactions will happen regardless. “That’s just not the case,” Giovaniello asserts and NAR and RLI will be working hard to make sure 1031s remain unchanged in the tax code and are kept as a valuable tool for investing in commercial real estate.
Will fear chill foreign investments?
Some areas are doing quite well as a result of foreign investments in the real estate markets, but will the perception regarding Trump’s attitude impact sales? Trump “has very strong opinions on immigration, so whether that leads to a chilling effect in the short term” is unclear, notes Giovaniello, reiterating that until priorities are set, we simply don’t know. “It’s something we have to be alert to,” he said. In particular, the EB-5 program has been used successfully to jump-start real estate development in all areas of the country. However, there has been a call from critics to reform the program and make it more transparent and accountable. A Trump Administration could increase the pressure to end the program or make it more difficult to use effectively by foreign investors.
Are federal regulations in the crosshairs?
The Trump Administration has described an aggressive attack on burdensome and overreaching federal regulations. For example, Trump has blasted Dodd-Frank on the election trail, and much conversation has centered around loosening Dodd-Frank regulations as the economy has improved. Trump also mentioned the Clean Air Plan, the regulation that was created to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and the Clean Water Plan, the regulation that sweeps in more waters of the U.S. under federal jurisdiction, as rules that he could withdraw, rescind or limit.
Will there be incentives to purchase homes?
As home ownership rates creep back up, Giovaniello doesn’t anticipate new tax credits for the purchase of a home under a Trump administration, noting a more likely scenario would be student loan refinance initiatives. Republicans believe that FHA should be available for first-time or low-income borrowers, but want to end incentives for high-income Americans. That appears to be the direction incentives will head.
Gridlock, and gobs of governors?
Will there be gridlock under a Trump presidency? Giovaniello doesn’t think that’s going away, but says “The American people voted for change. I think either party that doesn’t embrace that is going to be in bad shape.”
What will RPAC do? “Make your friends before you need them,” said Giovaniello. “We’re about to have a new, impactful class of governors, so we need to get in early now, before campaigns start,” noting they must proactively engage the candidates. The goal of the Realtor Party is to coordinate national, state, and local levels and leverage their national scale to enable those at the local level that know their communities best.
In conclusion, Giovaniello says of the election results, RPAC “did very well,” winning 90% of the races they were involved in, but are now preparing for post-election life now that the chips have fallen, by planning for the coming battle over federal and state regulations and a massive national gubernatorial race.
About the Author: Russell Riggs, RLI’s NAR Government Affairs Liaison. In his position with the National Association of REALTORS®, Russell Riggs serves in Washington, D.C., conducting advocacy on a variety of federal issues related to land.