PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Pursuing its Mission: HGAR Advocates for Realtor Values

PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Pursuing its Mission: HGAR Advocates for Realtor Values
HGAR officials recently traveled down I-95 to Washington, DC to attend the National Association of Realtors Annual Legislative Meetings. From left, HGAR Immediate Past President Anthony Domathoti, HGAR Past President Crystal Hawkins-Syska, HGAR President Tony D’Anzica, HGAR President-Elect Carmen Bauman and HGAR Secretary Vlora Sejdi.

As I have repeated many, many times, HGAR is a trade association and, as a trade association, it is our primary duty to advocate for our real estate industry on behalf of our members. As Realtors, we advocate for federal, state, and local policy initiatives that not only strengthen the public’s ability to own, buy, and sell real property, but also promote a stable and dynamic real estate market that fosters vibrant, affordable and sustainable communities.

It has been one of my primary initiatives as your President to remind our members about this fundamental and transcendent duty that we have above all else to advocate for our industry and our members. To a great extent, we are getting that message across! This month, with more than 120 attendees (most of them first timers!), HGAR fielded its largest delegation ever to Lobby Day in Albany. Together, we joined forces with hundreds of Realtors from every corner of New York State to advocate for policies that protect property rights, encourage homeownership, and promote fair housing.

In Albany we met with dozens of our local elected Senators and Assembly Members, including Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and we addressed many important issues with them. Together, we voiced our opposition to New York’s building electrification mandates which, as proposed, would have unintended consequences and impose exorbitant costs on rural households and low- and middle-income New Yorkers (i.e., by prohibiting the installation of fossil fuel, space and water heating equipment and related building systems in existing residential and multi-family buildings).

Our HGAR delegation expressed its opposition to Gov. Hochul’s Housing Compact. While its intent to dramatically fast track approval for housing projects in order to create hundreds of thousands of new housing units is admirable, it would also create a Housing Approval Board that would be able to override localities that deny certain housing projects. This would violate New York’s Municipal Home Rule Law, which authorizes localities to adopt local laws that create local solutions to local problems.

HGAR advocated against “Good Cause Eviction” legislation which, as proposed, would stifle investment in rental housing by imposing de facto rent control statewide and preventing property owners from recovering their property, even after a tenant’s lease has expired.

HGAR advocated against regulatory efforts by the Department of State to impose any new cease and desist zones on real estate licensees. We also advocated in favor of a technical amendment to a law passed in 2019 placing restrictions on legitimate telemarketing business services provided by licensed professionals – the current law prohibits all telemarketing activity during any state of emergency even if such telemarketing services would in no way impair actions taken to limit, control, or mitigate the emergency.

HGAR also advocated its support for legislation to create a First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account program to assist New Yorkers in saving for a first home within the state. To combat against discrimination, we also continued to support statewide legislation that would ensure fairness and transparency in the cooperative housing purchase process by 1) establishing a clear timeline to respond to co-op board applications, and 2) requiring a reason for the denial of any co-op board application. HGAR succeeded in having similar legislation passed in Westchester and Rockland counties,

I was proud to lead a contingent of HGAR members and staff to the annual Realtors Legislative Meetings (May 4-9) in Washington, D.C., NAR’s Board of Directors approved several important policy recommendations to:

  • Support and promote federal regulations and programs that enhance assumable mortgage products for federally-insured loan programs (FHA, VA, USDA) and the government-sponsored enterprises.
  • Support and promote federal efforts and collaboration within the real estate industry to support programs that will expand the workforce in the construction industry to relieve labor and housing shortages.
  • Support and promote tax policy that provides a reduced capital gains tax rate to existing owners (as of the date of enactment) of qualified one- to four-unit rental properties who sell to an owner-occupant. The incentive would have the effect of reducing prices, since investors wouldn’t have to charge as much to yield the same return, and increasing the inventory of available homes for first-time buyers.
  • Award The Hudson Valley Property Owners Association a grant to challenge the imposition of rent control guidelines by the City of Kingston, N.Y., on select multifamily buildings.

As NAR CEO Bob Goldberg stated, Realtor members “are on the ground in every town in America protecting and promoting property ownership. Our state and local advocacy programs are transforming communities.” From local city halls to the state house in Albany to the U.S. Capitol, HGAR is working hard for its members every single day.

Our staff, our leadership team, and our dedicated HGAR Realtor members and volunteers show up in droves to support programming and initiatives that benefit every single HGAR member.

Being a Realtor means being a professional. So, if you truly wish to be a professional, I urge you to do much, much more. Join an HGAR committee. Support RPAC. Be a voice for your industry. Being a professional and a successful Realtor isn’t measured by the number of transactions you close, but by the impact you have on your industry, your membership, and your community!

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