Brian Summerfield is the former manager of business development and outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services.
Countering the Critics
With challenges on the rise, you may be asked to defend the fundamental value of owning a home.
November 1, 2010
Home ownership is just another choice in the marketplace, no different from renting—and certainly not worthy of the generous tax benefits currently offered.
That’s an idea that’s been voiced by a chorus of pundits over the past several months. Although they represent a minority of opinion makers, their attacks have driven the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® to amplify its own voice in defense of home ownership and its value to individuals, the communities they live in, and the country.
For more than a year, NAR has been building on its decade-old Public Awareness Campaign advertising with two additional consumer plays that focus on home ownership—a consumer Web site, HouseLogic, and a syndicated radio show, "Real Estate Today." Both initiatives anticipated a time when REALTORS® might need to join together with consumers in defense of home owners’ rights. That time has come, according to NAR President Vicki Cox Golder.
"NAR has been hard at work countering negative claims about home ownership in the national media for some time," Golder said in an Oct. 5 podcast to NAR members. "Unfortunately, our efforts at the national level can only go so far. That’s why we are asking you, America’s REALTORS®, to help us mount a grassroots campaign to explain to consumers why home ownership matters."
NAR’s "Home Ownership Matters" campaign, launched in late September, has three primary aims:
- Present facts about home ownership’s benefits to the U.S. economy and society.
- Preserve federal home ownership incentives, such as the mortgage interest deduction, while championing sensible reforms for the FHA and the secondary mortgage market.
- Help the public understand the value proposition of responsible, sustainable home ownership.
NAR Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, writing for the September issue of REALTOR® Magazine, said those who want to eliminate government incentives for home ownership fail to recognize several important facts.
Fundamentally, the critics say, home owners are getting an unfair subsidy and one that benefits only the rich. In reality, government data show that home owners already pay 80–90 percent of the income tax in the United States, Yun wrote, and almost two-thirds of those who take the deduction are middle-income earners.
Eliminating the deduction would also be asking these taxpayers to "brace for a 15 percent drop in home values," Yun said. "That’s how much we can expect values to fall as buyers discount the value of the deduction in their purchase offers."
REALTORS® attending the association’s Conference & Expo in New Orleans Nov. 5–8 will receive talking points and "Home Ownership Matters" buttons to help them make the case for home ownership and raise awareness. In addition, NAR has assembled resources at REALTOR.org/homeownership, including commentaries and research that you can use to respond to your customers’ concerns.
"Real estate practitioners haven’t generally had to defend the very idea of home ownership," says NAR Vice President of Public Affairs and Consumer Media Pamela Geurds Kabati. "But as we head into 2011 with continued economic uncertainty, we want to make sure our members are prepared to champion this fundamental piece of the American dream."
Updated: February 15, 2019