Those of you who know me, are aware of my passion for boating. Through the years of training, experience, and applying good common sense, I have achieved a confidence in my abilities as a recreational boat captain. One of the most important things to consider when planning to leave the dock is the predicted weather and sea conditions that you may experience during your outing. You assess the situation, plan your course, and properly prepare the boat and crew for the expected conditions. As the bumper stickers say, "Things Happen" which may not have been expected! Sudden storms or mechanical problems can be dangerous if you haven't prepared for these events. Having life jackets, flares, working radios and spare parts can make a difference between safe excursion and a return to Gilligan's Island.
The old saying "Red Sky in the Morning - Sailor's Warning" can be applied to our industry. When REALTORS look to the sky, they should be seeing RED. The economical, governmental, technological and social changes that we are experiencing are dramatically affecting the Real Estate industry, including the way we conduct our businesses and are affecting the private property rights of every owner.
Some of our immediate concerns should be focused on preserving the Mortgage Interest Deduction, studying the effects on the various flat-tax proposals, and increasing our own professionalism. Many of the changes are good, such as the technology that now makes it possible for NAR to provide the Real Estate Information Network (RIN), satellite information services, and our own Regional Multiple Listing Service. We must plan properly so that we can change when the situation dictates, and remain staunch in our opposition to those factors that negatively affect our industry and the rights of all property owners.
The reduction of the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) as suggested by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bob Packwood, R-Ore., remains a possibility, as this deficit-burdened Congress tries to work toward balanced federal budgets. A toll free phone call to 1-800-603-4-MID will connect you to an operator who will ask you for your zip code and immediately connect you with your Senator, to personally urge them to support Senate Resolution 117, which says that "the current federal income tax deduction for interest paid on debt secured by a first or second home located in the U.S. should not be further restricted." Your call makes a difference! [ Or, here for Senate email addresses. ]
As various flat tax proposals are discussed, we must be able to analyze their effects on our industry and property values, and be prepared to voice our opinions as may be appropriate. Look for any Calls-To-Action that may be requested on these matters.
Lastly, I would like to address the topic of our Professionalism which has been much discussed in recent articles in NAR's REALTOR News publications. I believe the vast majority of our members conduct their businesses in full accordance with the letter and spirit of our Code of Ethics. As a former Grievance Committee Chairman, for three years, I have processed relatively few complaints from the public and fellow REALTORS. This does not mean that we can't improve as an Association; I have experienced or heard of many unreported acts of unprofessional behavior. Cooperation amongst REALTORS is essential to our collective survival as an industry, and is of great importance to the interests of our clients. I urge the office managers to include the topic of Professional behavior in their next sales meeting, and file complaints to the grievance committee when a clear violation of our code of ethics has been observed. Our integrity as professionals, as seen by the public and those inside our profession, requires that we renew our efforts to conduct ourselves in an ethical manor.
Like the prudent boat captain, if we can anticipate future events, respond appropriately to changing conditions, prepare ourselves properly with new technology, and abide by the rules that already exists, we can successfully weather the storms that challenge us.