A Message from the President with Mike Theo: Nothing Happens Until Something Moves

 Mike Theo  |    March 05, 2015

‚ÄúNothing happens until something moves‚ÄĚ is a quote ostensibly from Albert Einstein, presumably related to the study of physics. But the same can be said about human behavior, particularly as it relates to the impact each of us can have on the rules and regulations that impact our business. If we each commit to making small ‚Äúmoves‚ÄĚ at the same time, we can collectively make great things happen.

The elections are over, and a new legislative session has begun. Regardless of your political party preference or philosophical predilection, or your take on the electoral outcomes, this legislature and this congress ‚ÄĒ and this president and this governor ‚ÄĒ will be deliberating and deciding issues that have a direct impact on our economy, our business and our customers and clients. And the issues are significant.¬†

Congress seems poised to engage in a serious, and some would argue long-overdue, debate over tax reform. That debate will focus on lowering the top corporate and personal income tax rates. To do this, however, tax reformers feel that many current tax deductions and credits must be reviewed, and where possible, reformed or removed to simplify the tax code and to offset revenues lost by lowering tax rates. Some of these deductions and credits were put in place to promote certain taxpayer behavior and advance national goals including the mortgage interest and property tax deductions, which were intended to promote homeownership in America. These deductions are now in jeopardy. Also in jeopardy is the structure of the secondary mortgage market as some in Congress are calling for significant changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which could adversely impact the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage product. 

Here in Wisconsin, our state legislature will consider ways to balance a biennial budget and debate ways to permanently lower property taxes. Both are good, but both require tough choices ‚ÄĒ and together with dozens of other budget proposals, these issues will directly impact our business and our industry. The legislature also will consider issues like preserving in statutes our member‚Äôs ability to complete state-approved forms and providing additional liability protections for Wisconsin brokers. We also will be fighting for right-to-rent legislation that allows property owners to continue renting out their private cabins or homes as well as legislation prohibiting state or local laws that impede the right to transfer private property by enforcing regulatory compliance at the time of sale.

The bottom line is there will be dozens of bills regarding taxes, land use, license law and private property rights, but our ability to pass the good laws and stop the bad ones depends in large part on you. Nothing will happen until something moves ‚ÄĒ until you move.

Over the course of the next year or so, you will be receiving calls to action from the WRA and NAR, asking you to contact your legislator or member of Congress, regarding important pending legislation that will soon be coming up for a vote. The message will come electronically, and you’ll be asked to communicate with lawmakers electronically. With two simple clicks on your computer, tablet or phone, your message will be sent and in so doing, you will be joining your colleagues everywhere in helping inform our elected officials on key real estate issues.

And by making this move, you will be making something important happen. 

Responding to these calls to action is as important as it is easy, yet most REALTORS¬ģ ignore them. In 2013, only 13.3 percent of REALTORS¬ģ in Wisconsin took the time and made the effort to respond to calls to action, according to NAR. That‚Äôs just slightly better than the national response rate of 12.8 percent. That means a whopping 86.7 percent of REALTORS¬ģ in Wisconsin ignored the email and took no action at all.¬†

We can do better, and it‚Äôs important that we do. When we act in large numbers, lawmakers listen. I‚Äôve walked the halls in the Capitol for many years, and I‚Äôve been told numerous times to ‚Äúcall off the troops‚ÄĚ by legislators and staff whose offices were inundated with calls, letters and emails from REALTORS¬ģ. When we all move together, it really works. And in the end, property owners and homeowners ‚ÄĒ and those who want to be property owners and homeowners ‚ÄĒ benefit.¬†

Your personal commitment to taking action has always been important, but perhaps now it’s more important than ever. Over one quarter of the state Assembly this session is brand-new: 26 of 99 state representatives are freshman this year. Moreover, 71 of 99 state representatives have served fewer than four years. By engaging with all lawmakers, but particularly these new ones, you will be helping them be better legislators and helping our industry at the same time. 

The name ‚ÄúEinstein‚ÄĚ is synonymous with ‚Äúgenius,‚ÄĚ but the action necessary to make a meaningful difference in the laws and regulations of our industry is not rocket science. Each of us taking small actions will have a big impact on the laws impacting property owners and the REALTORS¬ģ who help them buy, sell or maintain that property. Remember this when you‚Äôre asked to help. It all starts with your move.¬†

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