By BECKY GILLETTE
About 200 members of the Mississippi Association of Realtors attended the annual Realtor Day at the Capitol Feb. 2, hearing from their elected officials, and discussing the Mississippi Realtors 2017 legislative priorities.
Clarke Wise, governmental affairs director for Mississippi Realtors, said members heard from Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Treasurer Lynn Fitch, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, and several members of the Mississippi House and Mississippi Senate.
“Through these discussions, legislators noted the benefit Realtors provide to their communities and state,” Wise said. “Realtors are involved, engaged, and invested in the public policy process and that involvement was demonstrated by the attendance at the Realtor Day at the Capitol.”
MAR President David Griffith of Cleveland said important legislation they are pursuing this year is designed to help residents turn their dream of home ownership into a reality.
“For the 2017 legislative session, the Mississippi Realtors advocate for the passage of the First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account,” Griffith said. “Through this legislation, the Mississippi Realtors seek to provide opportunities for Mississippians to purchase their first home by establishing a savings account where money can be set aside, tax free, to be used for the down payment and/or closing costs of a first-time home purchase.”
Wise said with the proposal, individuals may deduct up to $2,500 and families may deduct up to $5,000 by establishing this savings account and designating this as a First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account.
“Mississippi has a great opportunity to target the group of individuals who have the desire to move from a renter to a home owner, but the inability to produce a down payment is often cited as the largest obstacle,” Griffith said. “Based on analysis, we estimate that over a five-year period, 7,021 existing Mississippi renters (or 1,404 households per year over the five year period) would take advantage of the proposed tax deduction, save for a down payment and purchase their first home.”
The result would be a net positive in revenues. Griffith said it is estimated that the State of Mississippi and its counties will receive on average $1.50 for every dollar in forgone revenues.
“After careful review and economic analysis, the five-year projections result in a net surplus in revenue to the state,” Griffith said. “The Mississippi Realtors will continue to educate the legislature and consumers on the value of homeownership and the economic benefits associated with creating an environment conducive to home ownership.”
Griffith said some of their other legislative priorities for 2017 include the following:
» Opposing a tax on real estate services.
» Removing repealer on the Commercial Broker Lien law.
» Directing the funds collected from the Realtor license plate to the Mississippi Realtor Disaster Relief Fund.
» Adding “single family homes” to the list of eligible properties for a historic tax credit.
» Extending the repealer on the Home Inspector Licensure.
The MAR Political Action Committee supports candidates and elected officials who are supportive of MAR issues without regard to their political party, said MARPAC Chairman Noggin Wild.
“In the Realtor Association, we like to say that we support the ‘Realtor Party,’” Wild said. “Private property rights and home ownership transcend party lines and we are proud to support candidates dedicated to protecting and advancing these ideals. MARPAC consists of MAR members from around the state. The MARPAC trustees evaluate each race, candidate, and voting history for each legislator as requests are received.”
Wild said they support candidates of both parties who are supportive of their issues.
“We recognize the importance of electing statewide leaders who understand the impact of a vibrant real estate market on the state’s economy and to ensure that homeownership remains an attainable dream form the hard-working citizens of our state,” Wild said.