This site is about the overreaching political power of the NC Association of Realtors flush with money from cashing in your equity 6% at a time, leaving you to pay for growth with property taxes, year after year, with or without cash flow. In the last few years NCAR has pumped millions of dollars into NC political campaigns at the state and local level. They have spent millions more to defeat Local Options for Local Governments with misleading ads.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Don't Let NC Crumble

The North Carolina League Of Municipalities reviews why we cannot afford to let our infrastructure crumble:

North Carolina citizens must have clean water, good roads, safe bridges, solid transportation systems and other infrastructure essentials. These are the basics that support and enable our daily lives. Without this strong foundation, good jobs, good schools, adequate housing and vibrant, diverse communities are not possible. These facilities cannot be built and then forgotten; maintenance and improvements are constantly required.

What you need to know:
Talking Points (pdf)
Memo on transportation needs (pdf)
Memo on water and sewer needs (pdf)
Additional Resources (pdf)
Summary (pdf)
Other Resources

NC Infrastructure: C- Report Card

The North Carolina Section of the American Society of Engineers released the first North Carolina Infrastructure Report Card 2006 at simultaneous press conferences in Raleigh and Charlotte on September 18th, 2006.

Airports, Dams and Roads were given grades of D or lower, Bridges, Drinking Water, Schools, Stormwater and Wastewater got C or lower and only Rail scored over C with a B-. While the State's overall grade of C- is better that the national grade of D the study shows that North Carolina's infrastructure can not support its increasing population at current funding levels.

Poor roads cost motorists $1.7 billion per year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs.

"Crumbling infrastructure cannot support a healthy economy," said Mr Ron Geiger, PE, chairman of the Report Card committe. "We hope this report will help North Carolina residents, as well as state and local officials and policy makers, recognize how the condition of our state's infrastructure impacts our quality of life, and realize how the deteriorating condition of those systems compromises their ability to support the state's economy and protect the natural environment that makes North Carolina so attractive."

State Representatives Bill Daughtridge (R) and Nelson Cole (D) called for bipartisan support for infrastructure investment because of its importance to economic development while noting that some counties don't have water systems, precluding them from participation in the resulting job and business growth and increased tax base.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

NC Realtors Association Throws Its Weight Around

Hi there Stop The NC Home Ticks,
I recommended this article entitled "A Real Special Interest Group" to you.

A Real Special Interest Group
Posted By Admin On 13th April 2007 @ 16:10

The Realtors Association Throws Its Weight Around

By Rob Schofield

One of the great myths of modern American politics and policymaking concerns the role and nature of “special interest groups.” Too often, the term has come to be associated with those who advocate for causes like the rights of minorities or children or the disabled and other traditionally vulnerable and/or disenfranchised sets of people. Indeed, to hear some people describe things, policymakers are constantly besieged by an army of do-gooder groups who would bankrupt the state (and taxpayers) in pursuit of narrow and meddlesome objectives.

Meanwhile, according to this myth, noble and innocent business interests who seek nothing other than the freedom to ply their trades and reap modest profits must fight constantly to ward off the intrusive and confiscatory efforts of wild eyed legislators bent on redistributing their hard earned wealth.

The Real Special Interest Groups

The reality of the situation is actually quite different. In North Carolina, the most powerful special interest groups are not the nonprofit advocates for progressive (or even conservative) causes. For the most part, these groups act like (and are, in fact) “public” interest groups – that is, they do what they do not to enrich themselves, but out of a commitment to a mission and an understanding of the common good.

Real special interest groups are easily distinguishable from public interest groups. While they may often portray their advocacy as benefiting the public at-large (and sometimes the two can overlap), real special interest groups are not motivated by a vision of the common good, but rather by a drive to make more money – for itself, its owners, and/or its members or constituents.

Especially in recent years, many of these groups have learned through experience to treat government policymaking just as they would treat any number of hurdles in the dog-eat-dog marketplace in which they normally operate, i.e., part of the cost of doing business. The reasoning is simple and straightforward: Invest more in campaign contributions and a sophisticated lobbying effort and maximize one’s income. A $100,000 or $200,000 investment in public policy advocacy can easily lead to a multi-million dollar return in a differently regulated marketplace.

To get a feel for who the real special interest groups are in North Carolina, one need only look at the list of lobbyists and “principals” (i.e., the groups the lobbyists represent) on the website of the Secretary of State. As becomes readily apparent upon examining this list, the vast majority of interest groups lobbying North Carolina policymakers are for-profit businesses and associations. This is not to imply that there’s anything illegal or immoral about this fact. Everyone has a constitutional right to petition the government. The list does, however, provide both a reminder about who really has the ear of state officials and a grain of salt to accompany some of the public relations campaigns that have been launched by various special interest groups that purport to be about advancing the common good.

Special Interest Group Poster Child – The N.C. Association of Realtors

In North Carolina, there is no better example of a powerful, active and skillful special interest group than the N.C. Association of Realtors. Three years ago, the group was part of an extremely successful public policy campaign to alter the public school calendar in order to increase tourism (and vacation rental property) revenue. By skillfully aligning itself with tourism interests and a band of disaffected public school parents flying the “mom and apple pie” banner “Save our Summers,” and ultimately, cutting a deal to win teacher support via what amounted to a back-door pay increase, the group overcame the united opposition of education experts and administrators of widely varying stripes (though a move is now underway to reverse the change). In further confirmation of the hardball nature of the 2004 effort, the chief legislative sponsor of the bill resigned her seat shortly after the bill’s passage to accept a lobbying position with the tourism industry.

In 2007, the Association of Realtors has launched a new public policy campaign that features a mom and apple pie tone. This one is in opposition to the growing drumbeat to raise the state real estate transfer tax (a small excise tax on realty transactions known as the Deed Stamp Tax) or to give local officials new power to raise the tax locally. As reported in the April 2 edition of the NC Policy Watch Weekly Briefing, transfer taxes are popular throughout most of the country and could provide significant new revenue with which state and local governments might confront explosive growth and ravenous demand for new public services and investments. Moreover, North Carolina’s current tax rate is extremely low. Many states use the transfer tax as a source of revenue for the construction of affordable housing and the preservation of open space.

According to the Association of Realtors, however, the transfer tax is a “home tax” on the “American Dream” that will adversely impact home sellers. Realtor profits are never mentioned. In coordination with a special “527 group” known as the NC Homeowners Alliance, the Realtors have sought to mimic the pattern of the Save our Summers campaign from 2004. Their slickly produced TV and radio ads feature a simplistic message about hardworking people besieged by an intrusive government bent on extracting all of the equity out of their homes.

Setting the Record Straight

The Realtors’ anti-transfer tax campaign is an example of an increasingly common phenomenon that has come to be known as “Astroturf advocacy.” This term was coined to describe what amount to phony or manufactured grassroots campaigns in which business interests attempt to convince policymakers that there is a public groundswell on an issue that impacts their bottom line. Hence the effort in the Realtors’ ads to create the impression that homeowner equity is what’s really at stake in the transfer tax debate, rather than realtor profits or a small bump in home prices.

While the Realtors Association professes to be sincere about its concern for North Carolina’s homeowners (many of whom, at least in boom counties, are selling their houses for two and three times what they paid for them), there can be no doubt that the real motivation for the group’s efforts surrounding the transfer tax debate is (surprise!) to protect realtor income. The Association claims would ring truer if the group or its national affiliate gave any indication of a real and meaningful commitment to a policy agenda that benefits the broader public interest. A search of the record, however, provides scant evidence of any such commitment.

Indeed, despite their enormous power, size and visibility (and, some might add, responsibility), neither the National Association of Realtors nor the North Carolina group appears to be actively advocating in support of public policies on any major issues of the day that aren’t directly related to their industry and its economic well-being. If the Realtors Association were truly concerned about North Carolina’s middle class homeowners, for instance, one might expect its leaders to actively speak out in favor of adequate funding for public education or comprehensive reform of the state’s regressive tax system – something that never happens. Ironically, the National Association’s website acknowledges a need for reform of the health care system, but only because one in four realtors are uninsured, not out of any sense of responsibility to society as a whole. Universal coverage is not a part of their proposed solution either.

In short, the Association of Realtors is the quintessential “special interest group” – a large and powerful, for-profit entity that seeks all of the benefits that come with participation in the modern public policy making system and offers little or nothing in the way of sacrifice or commitment to the common good. The success or failure of the anti-transfer tax campaign could serve as a bellwether for the plans of likeminded special interests in the years to come. North Carolinians should pay close attention.

Article taken from NC Policy Watch with Chris Fitzsimon -

URL to article:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Billion dollar industry balks at paying for growth

Hi there Stop The NC Home Ticks,
I recommend this article entitled 'Billion dollar industry balks at paying for growth' to you.

Here are their remarks:

Billion dollar industry balks at paying for growth
Posted By Admin On 28th March 2007 @ 16:53

It has become clear in recent weeks that support is building in the General Assembly for legislation to give counties the power to enact a real estate transfer tax to raise money for schools, water and sewer infrastructure, and the other costs associated with the state’s dramatic growth.

Bills have been introduced to give various counties the power to impose the tax on home sales if it’s approved in a countywide referendum. House Speaker Joe Hackney recently indicated that he is inclined to support allowing counties to raise the tax.

But the clearest evidence that this might be the year that lawmakers actually give local governments the revenue tools they need is the ad campaign recently launched against the legislation by the North Carolina Association of Realtors, complete with television commercials and a website,

Realtors normally rely on their well-connected lobbyists and the campaign contributions of their political action committee to have their way in the General Assembly. Realtors gave more than $600,000 to legislative candidates in the 2006 election cycle.

But this year, the realtors may have a fight on their hands to protect their profits and are spending their considerable resources to wage it. The realtors want to talk about the problems they see with the tax itself, which is the basis of their ad campaign.

What the ad and website don’t say is that no legislation seeks to impose the transfer tax. The bills only give counties the authority to consider it and only after the people in the county approve it in a referendum. Apparently the realtors want to prevent people in North Carolina from deciding how to build schools in their own communities.

They also continue to misrepresent the tax itself, calling it a “home tax” that’s punitive and makes it harder for low-income people to being able to afford their first time.  The realtors’ campaign is based on convincing people that a transfer tax is somehow a tax on the American dream.

The problem of course is that the American dream also includes adequately-funded schools, police, and firefighters, and water and sewer systems that meet the needs of a community.

The facts about the tax are as clear as the rhetoric. Thirty-seven states have some form of a transfer tax, including Florida, which increased it in 1992 to support affordable housing. In the last nine years Florida’s real estate transactions have more than doubled. Other states with transfer taxes have seen similar trends. The tax doesn’t seem to be hindering housing sales.

If lawmakers want to make sure that lower income homebuyers are not affected, they could simply exempt the first $100,000 of a home sale. Realtors could do their part too.  Instead of opposing what is in effect a one percent sales tax on houses, realtors themselves could reduce a much larger cost to home sellers, the 6 percent commission currently taken by realtors.

That would show a true concern for the lower income homebuyers and still allow counties to raise revenue to provide essential services to the families in the homes.  And it is clear that realtors could afford it.

The Association’s figures show that the sales of preexisting homes in North Carolina last year totaled $28.7 billion. Add in new homes and the figure is well above $30 billion. But even at $28.7 billion, that means the realtors take was $1.72 billion in 2006.  

Realtors admit that many counties need to raise more revenue, but when pressed they say counties should raise the property tax, which can sometimes be a problem for many senior citizens, or simply set better budget priorities, a suggestion almost as disingenuous as their concern for the poor.

The transfer tax is an effective way to raise revenue and counties in North Carolina should have the opportunity to consider it. It’s not an onerous, regressive tax that would hurt home sales and unfairly target lower-income homebuyers. It is a way to make a billion dollar industry help in a small way offset the costs that come as a result of the growth that brings the industry its massive profits.


Article taken from NC Policy Watch with Chris Fitzsimon -

URL to article:


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