It was an honor to attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina last week, representing the National Association of REALTORS®, along with 2012 Immediate Past President Ron Phipps and 2012 First Vice President-Nominee Chris Polychron.
The convention was an excellent opportunity to spread our message about the importance of homeownership. Over the course of three days we had the privilege of meeting with Democratic leaders from both chambers, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, of Maryland.
We expressed our support for REALTOR® issues and our legislative agenda, including our views on mortgage cancellation, debt relief, the mortgage interest deduction and tax reform.
We also talked in-depth with New York Representative Carolyn Maloney, who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, about the conclusion of the 112th Congress and what to expect in the coming year. We met with New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, chair of the Housing Subcommittee of the Banking Committee, to emphasize the importance of his refinancing bill. That legislation would allow people who are current on their mortgage but cannot refinance the opportunity to take advantage of the low interest rates.
Do such things make a difference? Well, it was thrilling to be in the crowd to hear President Obama specifically mention protecting middle class families by preserving the Mortgage Interest Deduction in his keynote address. This was great news, especially coming on the heels of the Republican Convention, where the REALTOR® delegation there ( which included 2012 President-Elect Gary Thomas, 2012 Treasurer Bill Armstrong and 2012 Vice President and Liaison to Government Affairs Scott Louser) helped make sure their platform included language to protect the MID as well.
It’s important to see — and hear — that both parties recognize the value of homeownership to American families.
During the Democratic convention I also served on a public panel hosted by the Real Estate Roundtable, to discuss the importance of a healthy real estate market in turning around our economy.
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, was also on the panel, as were Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), along with representatives from commercial, banking, multifamily, and title to make the case. I had the opportunity to speak for REALTORS® and deliver our message about the importance of maintaining federal incentives for homeownership; keeping down payments low to make homes more affordable; easing tight credit to encourage lending; and restructuring the secondary mortgage market to ensure market liquidity, yet protect taxpayers.
Finally, Ron, Chris and I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with a large group of North Carolina REALTORS®, together with REALTORS® from across the country, many of whom were serving as DNC delegates, at a breakfast organized by our state hosts, NCAR. REALTORS are making their voices heard!
Steve Brown, 2012 NAR First Vice President