Richard Haggerty, HGAR CEO

Sometimes I think I sound like a broken record with some of my columns for HGAR’s monthly publication, Real Estate In-Depth. Since I’ve been CEO of HGAR I have already penned some 120 articles, and my predecessor, Gil Mercurio, penned more than 360! That’s a lot of fresh material which must be cooked up, basically creating a new recipe every month. However, the reality is that there are some common themes that bind the association to its mission, and this month’s topic, legislative engagement, is at the top of my list of vital association services. In fact, to me, it’s the foundation of the association.

The challenge is that, for many, politics is such a partisan morass, now more than ever before. As I’ve said many times previously, I pin the blame for this perception on news channels that stoke the fires of partisanship, “us against them,” as opposed to presenting the news to the collective “we,” as well as social media, which seems designed to foster conflict. While that may be the challenge, we cannot afford to use that as an excuse to stay on the sidelines. We need to stay fully engaged in those issues that affect real property rights.

Last week HGAR Legislative Committee Co-Chair Leah Caro and I attended a press conference conducted by U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in Bedford Hills concerning the “Build Back Better” legislation that has passed the House of Representatives and is currently being debated in the Senate. During the press conference three or four very vocal protestors were yelling negative slogans attempting to disrupt the event, which is certainly their right in our democracy. For the real estate industry one of the key provisions in the legislation is the increase in the SALT deduction from $10,000 to $80,000, with certain income level caveats.

This modification to the SALT deduction could have a tremendous positive effect for the New York and suburban real estate market. HGAR representatives were present to support this initiative. We were focused on the issues that affect real property rights, not the protestors. That must be our guiding principle.

I spend a lot of my time attending meetings and political fundraisers with members of the New York State Senate and Assembly, as do the other members of HGAR’s legislative team—Phil Weiden and Eli Rodriguez—as well as the Legislative Committee leadership. Some of the legislators agree with some or most of our legislative priorities. Some do not. It’s our job to stay engaged with everyone, focused on our priorities, listening, and exchanging thoughts and ideas in a meaningful and respectful manner, always staying on topic and always being patient.

The best example of that patience in action is our success in the enactment of meaningful co-op transparency legislation in Westchester. That didn’t happen overnight—it was 30 years in the making.

Next year, 2022 President Anthony Domathoti will be creating a network of HGAR members who are willing to stay engaged, who are willing to attend meetings and events with state and local legislative leaders, and who are willing to make a difference. If you want to be a part of this team and make a difference, e-mail me, or 2022 HGAR President Anthony Domathoti at

Another way of making a difference is contributing to RPAC. As we have said many times, RPAC contributions don’t buy votes, they get us through the door so we can have the conversations. We can’t afford to stay on the sidelines. We need to get educated on the issues, get in the game and stay engaged.

On behalf of the entire HGAR staff, I wish each and every one of our members a peaceful holiday season and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

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