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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ashe County Can Decide Without "Help"

Thank you so much, but...

Editorial from The Jefferson Post in Ashe County, published: Monday, April 21, 2008 12:16 PM CDT

We appreciate all this interest, but it is our position that the citizens of Ashe County are quite capable of deciding how they wish to be taxed without all this outside help. One wonders where these groups were back in the fall of 2001, when our county was shattered by plant closings and West Jefferson’s downtown had far too many “for rent” signs in storefronts.
The transfer tax issue is fairly simple. We face some financial challenges in this county, specifically paying for two major capital projects, the new law enforcement center and the library expansion. Both are important and necessary - though we believe the services offered by the improved library will, in the future, reduce the need for a jail here. At the same time, county government is facing the same staggering cost of gas and fuel oil we are all facing. That is the reality.

We, as citizens of the county, must pay these bills. The question is how - by increasing the ad valorem (property) tax or having a transfer tax for non-family land sales. We do not believe this is all such a mystery that our citizens are not capable of deciding how we, as a county, shall pay our bills.

We hope our new-found friends in Raleigh will not forget us after May 6, as we struggle to deal with the serious layoffs and transfers now taking place at Leviton. We trust they will have the same interest, as we struggle to face this and many other challenges here in the “Lost Province.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

200 Apples to 1 Orange

Orange: Sprawl lobby just says no to LTT, From the Independent Weekly:

Big money from across the state—and as far away as Washington—is piling on to beat the land transfer tax in Orange County. Real estate agents and homebuilders have donated nearly a quarter of a million dollars to a campaign against the May 6 ballot referendum in Orange County. The referendum committee, Citizens for a Better Orange County, has raised $234,239 in contributions, loans and in-kind donations, according to campaign finance reports filed with the elections board April 28.
The committee has spent $205,115 on direct mailings, polls and ads. With 95,805 registered voters in Orange County, that amounts to $2.14 spent per voter as of April 18, more than two weeks before the election.
The N.C. Association of Realtors has effectively been running the campaign against the Orange County referendum from its Greensboro office, the report shows. The association has spent $23,854 on in-kind donations of polling, signs, postage, consulting and “staff costs”; made $30,000 in general contributions; and loaned the committee $70,000.

Other contributions have come from the N.C. Homebuilders Association ($44,500), Triangle MLS, a real estate listing service ($30,000), Greater Chapel Hill Association of Realtors ($5,000), the Triangle Community Coalition ($5,000), and the Durham Regional Association of Realtors ($1,000). The National Association of Homebuilders in Washington, D.C., donated $24,885 in television ad time.
As of April 19, the committee had paid Public Solutions $88,727 on direct mail and Web site design. Public Solutions is a Raleigh-based public affairs and political strategy firm headed by Chris Sinclair, a former lobbyist for the manufactured housing industry who also heads the Triangle Community Coalition. The committee also paid Campaign Connections, another Raleigh political consulting firm, $53,660 for newspaper and radio ads, consulting and other expenses. The Victory Group in Baltimore was hired for $11,000 for a TV and radio ad, and Cornerstone Strategy and Communications in West Palm Beach was paid $2,929 for a phone data bank.
“It’s clear we’re being outspent; I’m going to guess probably about 50 or 100 to one,” [Carrboro Mayor Mark] Chilton said.

More like 200 to one.
—Fiona Morgan

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Realtors’ Conflicting Claims

Friday, April 25th, 2008
Audio Report by Chris Fitzsimon [Click here to listen]

Friday, April 25, 2008

Save Traffic

Land Transfer Taxes: The NC Experience

Policy brief from the NC Association of County Commissioners.

Land Transfer Taxes: The NC Experience

This policy brief draws on the experience of the six North Carolina counties with land transfer taxes. The success of these counties in utilizing this revenue source to provide high quality services to their citizens is attributable to two factors: 1) the stewardship of elected officials; and 2) the use of the proceeds to meet specified infrastructure needs.

Despite allegations from homebuilders and realtors, these counties have not suffered adversely from the implementation of these taxes. For each of these counties,

• home values remain affordable,
• job and retail growth remains robust,
• residential growth is vibrant,
• schools are benefiting immensely,
• property taxes remain stable.

These counties have benefited tremendously from the transfer tax because they have embraced three key principles: 1) taxpayer protection through tax limitation; 2) multipronged efforts aimed at Economic Development, 3) continuous monitoring of the effects of the local tax structure on citizens.
Adhering to the three Guiding Principles has allowed these counties to contend with the challenges of growth while simultaneously exhibiting sound fiscal stewardship.

1. Taxpayer Protection through Tax Limitation
2. Focus on Continued Economic Development
3. Maintain cognizance of total tax picture

It is evident that North Carolina’s experience with the land transfer tax shows this is a valuable tool for counties. Because the revenues have been targeted to infrastructure development and because officials have adhered to the principles above, concerns that transfer taxes inhibit growth, lead to skyrocketing home prices and unduly burden homeowners can be allayed.

A balanced approach to taxation clearly benefits elderly citizens and those on fixed incomes by lessening the pressure on property taxes. This allows these citizens to remain in their homes without fear of losing them to increasing tax rates or tax values.

Orange County Land Transfer Tax Forum

Rod Visser, Joe Capowski, and Mark Zimmerman discuss the land transfer tax May 6th ballot option in Orange County North Carolina. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters

Update: For more information go to: What is the Orange County Land Transfer Tax? and Land Transfer Taxes: The NC Experience

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What is the Orange County Land Transfer Tax?

Click through to the Orange County Land Transfer Tax Education website:

Some Realtors Not Opposed to Transfer Tax

From Laura Easthom, Orange County realtor:

Homes have continued to appreciate here very nicely, BECAUSE of how nice it is to live here and the quality of the schools. What do the citizens in the county get in return from the land transfer tax revenue? An Orange County that is going to REMAIN a great place to live, with well- funded schools and parks and a healthier economic picture for the county. And if our area remains this way, then home values will continue to rise and their homes equity will continue to rise.

Who has a real estate license, in elective office, and is supportive of the land transfer tax? Me….Mark Chilton. Moses Carey actually has a real estate license and he, along with other Orange County Commissioners, voted to spend 100K on an educational campaign to learn more about the tax.

Please do not lump all those with real estate licenses into the same category as those espousing “SAY NO TO THE HOME TAX.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cornerstone Solutions

Entities that have been providing political consulting services to NC Realtors and NC Homebuilders have joined forces after collaborating for years. Public Solutions, Inc of Raleigh and Cornerstone Strategy & Communication, LLC of West Palm Beach, Florida have created a new North Carolina corporate entity called Cornerstone Solutions & Communications, Inc., doing business as “Cornerstone Solutions” according to documents filed April 2 with the Wake County Register of Deeds and earlier this year at the Secretary of State’s Office.

Public Solutions, Inc. is the firm of Chris Sinclair, head of the realtors and homebuilders Triangle Community Coalition. Cornerstone Strategy & Communication, LLC is the firm of Pradeep “Rick” Asnani. The firm began in 2004 as Cornerstone RSCS LLC, after Asnani parted ways with Richard Johnston and Randy Nielsen of Public Concepts, LLC a West Palm Beach political consulting firm the three started in 2003 as a successor firm to Johnston and Nielsen’s Public Concepts, Inc.

Asnani and Sinclair are joined by Alistair Macaulay, former PAC manager and director of political affairs for the NC Homebuilders. Asnani has been a consultant to the Triangle Community Coalition, participating in “Candidate Training Schools” and has been an originator of “astroturf”, fake grassroots coalitions like the “Everglades Forever Partnership” formed while with Public Concepts to support Florida sugar companies’ positions on Everglades pollution and development controls. Public Solutions of Raleigh has long had a Florida connection, listing Florida Crystals as a client, a common denominator with Richard Gentry a Florida lobbyist and former lobbyist for the Florida Home Builders Association. Cornerstone Strategy & Communication, LLC has provided political services to the NC Homebuilders and NC Realtors in connection with local elections in NC including transfer tax referenda.

Update 1: Cornestone Solutions & Communications, Inc., was dissolved effective 11:59pm on June 30th, 2008. Articles of dissolution dated June 18th, 2008 were filed June 19th, 2008.

Update 2: Cornestone Solutions & Communications, LLC, was formed as a Florida Limited Liability Company on June 23rd, 2008 with the same Principals, Asnani, Sinclair, Macauly

Update 3: Cornestone Solutions & Communications, LLC, was filed at the NC Secretary of State's Office as a Florida LLC doing business in North Carolina as Cornerstone Solutions on March 31st, 2009 with the same Principals, Asnani, Sinclair, Macauly

Friday, April 11, 2008

Realtor Ruse Continues

Friday, April 11th, 2008
Audio Report by Chris Fitzsimon [Click here to listen]