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Realtors balk at funding transfer tax fight

Posted July 21, 2008
Updated July 22, 2008

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— For months, Realtors called a real estate transfer tax an unfair tax on homeowners. Now, they're calling a $10 million effort to fight the tax an unfair tax on themselves.

Last year, state lawmakers gave counties two options to raise revenue for growth-related needs like new schools, wider roads and extended water and sewer lines. One was a quarter-cent local sales tax, and the other was land transfer tax of 0.4 percent of the sale price of homes and land.

Extensive ad campaigns by developers and the North Carolina Association of Realtors helped defeat transfer tax proposals in 19 counties last November and in May, including twice in one county. Last month, the Realtors group pledged $10 million to continue fighting the tax at the polls.

To fund that war chest, the association is levying a $70 assessment on each of its 43,000 members and will raise its annual dues by $25 next year.

Realtor Becky Harper said she thought the transfer tax fight would be funded by the association's political-action committee, not through mandatory contributions by members.

"This is an unfair tax on Realtors. It's a tax to support a political campaign that we may or may not agree with," said Harper, who is against the transfer tax.

Realtors must pay the annual dues to belong to the state association and access its Multiple Listing Service.

"It's the route they're taking to push this agenda, slamming it down our throats, using extortion, leveraging our careers against ourselves," said Realtor Carlton Brown, who doesn't support the  campaign. "I'm deeply offended that they would hold my career over my head and say, 'You'll support us on this agenda, or we will end your career as you know it.'"

Association President Wendell Bullard said some of the frustration is misguided. PAC money must be used for candidates, not a property rights campaign, which is why the group is using member dues. Voluntary contributions wouldn't raise enough money to fight the transfer tax, he said.

"It comes from your pocketbook, so they're responding out of emotion, and people have a right to have time to express their frustration," Bullard said. "I do ask our members to stand firm, to stay committed, stay united, and we will ride through this."


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  • thescoop Jul 24, 2008

    The extortion continues across NC. Gastonia REALTORS got their assessment letter yestersday. Find out more at http://ncarnow.info

  • thescoop Jul 24, 2008

    the blog spoke of is http://ncarnow.info

  • TheAdmiral Jul 24, 2008

    I think it is funny that a group that is supposed to be of high ethics and of high esteem is stuping so low to create a direct and intentional conflict of interest when it comes to political action moneys.

    Any time you force your group to pay a separate amount and state that it is to pay for political action - and then tell your membership that if they don't pay, they are out of a career - you are violating RICO act provisions as well as an established Social Code of Ethics.

    The state organization and that National Organization are examples of corrupt organizations that write their own ticket at the expense of their consumers.

    Very rarely do I see them do anything but extort money from their members for things that they are not supposed to be in. One of those things is regulation of their group.

  • SheriffTruman Jul 22, 2008

    If the REALTORS do not like the fact that their industry group funded this campaign and therefore do not represent them, they should rise up and vote those leaders out of office next time the officers come up. Otherwise, pay the bill and keep on selling.

  • simracer68 Jul 22, 2008

    "REALTOR is the trademark, all capitals" That's the truth, it is not a "copyright - ©" as someone said earlier, it's a trademark - ®. Not to nitpick, but there is a difference.

    REALTOR® is the proper way to display the word in print.

  • TechRescue Jul 22, 2008

    NC has the finest politicians that money can buy - if you don't believe it just follow the news. Realtors (used it to start a sentence so I can steer clear of the Capitalized Conflict) should proud to donate - they are purchasing an asset that can be passed down to their children, provided the asset manages to stay out of prison.

  • jsanders Jul 22, 2008

    It's fashion for high-tax advocates and county officials to blame the realtors, but any detailed look into those counties' finances exploded what unnecessary boondoggles those proposals were for nigh on all the counties:

  • Firegal Jul 22, 2008

    First of all, I am a REALTOR, and good one. I take care of my clients--maybe it is the way I was raised, but the golden rule still applies. The biggest problem I see with this is not having to pay the increased dues and fees--if it were for general operating funds, no problem. But they are charging all members to pay for a politcal campaign--whether we agree with it or not. They are forcing us to pay up or lose our MLS service. In my opinion, money for Political campaigns should come from voluntary contributions from those who agree. Now we all are being forced to contribute to a campaign that we may not agree with.

  • TOMMYG Jul 22, 2008

    REALTOR is the trademark, all capitals. The basic concept of the transfer tax is you pay when you sell. It does not make sense to collect from the homeowner that is selling for services and roads they will not use because they are leaving. Additionally, there may be a 200 unit apartment complex where all occupants are using roads, schools etc., but no transfer tax here unless the apartment complex is sold. Not equitable. Pay up front impact fees on all new construction.

  • ThisIsMyName Jul 22, 2008

    My mom is a realtor in another state and has talked more than one person (or couple) out of buying a house because the house needed work and she knew they couldn't afford the work, or she knew they flat out couldn't afford it period. She's been amazed at how many people try to buy a house that can't afford it. She's wasted a lot of time on this, so now she tells people to get loan pre-approval for the price range they are looking at, then she'll show them houses.