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.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Money Talks Again in Clay County

As expected the transfer tax was defeated in Clay County but not by the margins one would expect given the heavy spending by the North Carolina Association of Realtors (NCAR) to kill the measure. With 9 out of 9 precincts reporting, 2,641 votes were cast, a voter turnout of 31.98% based on 8,262 registered votes. The final result was 1,038 votes for and 1,603 votes against, a margin of 565 voters or, 39.3% for and 60.7% against.

Based on spending of $36,200 reported on August 8th this represents spending of $22.58 per no vote, a new record. Based on funds of $57,500 committed to the opposition committee set up by NCAR this represents spending of $35.87 per no vote, yet another all time high. Somebody's getting rich. Meanwhile Clay County residents still have to find a way to pay for their schools and it's a sure bet that it's going to be property tax.

NCAR can afford to keep doing this for a while but can its members? All that NCAR is doing is shifting the burden from one form of taxation to another at $35.87 per vote. According to the Asheville Citizen Times:

Hoping to build a new primary school, Clay was the 20th county seeking to triple the land transfer tax. Voters everywhere have rejected the tax.

The land transfer tax would have raised about $350,000 last year, covering more than half the payment on a $10 million school-construction loan, Clay County Board of Commissioners Chairman Hub Cheeks has said.

Big money and absurd claims in Clay County

Big money and absurd claims in Clay County

By Chris Fitzsimon, NC Policy Watch Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Voters in Clay County head to the polls Friday to decide if they want to raise the local real estate transfer tax by .4 percent to build a new elementary school.

Hayesville, the county seat, is 350 miles from Raleigh, but big Raleigh money, slick misleading mailers, and misrepresentations from the market fundamentalist think tanks may decide the election if previous local transfer tax votes are any indication.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that realtors and developers have spent more than $36,000 fighting the tax so far, most of it from the N.C. Association of Realtors in Raleigh. The realtors have bought victory in all 20 of local transfer tax votes since the General Assembly gave counties the authority to put the tax on the ballot last session.

The realtors are using all the misleading arguments in Clay County that they have perfected in the last few years, calling the proposed increase a home tax, an attack on the American dream, and feigning concern for low-income families. Those are families the realtors charge 6 percent to sell a house, 15 times more than the transfer tax now proposed to build a school.

The big Raleigh money pays for a constant barrage of slick mail pieces that all but claims the transfer tax increase will end civilization as we know it. And just like in previous elections the realtors and homebuilders have the support of Raleigh's most well-known market fundamentalist think tank, that issued a predictable report that the county doesn't need to raise any tax to build a new school.

The report demands that the county commissioners "practice more honesty in government," attacking public officials honesty and integrity as part of the propaganda campaign.

The report urges the county to put a bond issue on the ballot "if" a new school is needed, which only people from Raleigh could question. It also criticizes county officials for using a bond issue to pay for a new jail which opened in May, but it doesn't stop there.

One author of the report says that "flat-panel TVs for inmates and hidden taxes" appear to be the commissioners' priorities. He goes on to question the need for the jail, criticize its size, and wonders why it wasn't built in cooperation with neighboring counties.

Sheriff Joe Shook, who is elected by the people in the county, said at the opening of the new jail that inmates were sleeping on the floor in the old one. As for the flat-panel televisions, that's what stores sell now. That doesn't mean they are high definition or plasma TVs, they are just flatter than older models.

A simple check of the Best Buy website would have made that clear, and it turns out Graham County authorities are planning to send some of its inmates to the new Clay County facility that can hold up to 60 prisoners.

That was reported by the local newspaper in May, three months before the think tank report criticized local officials for not cooperating with other counties who might want to use the new jail. But the report isn't about the facts.

It is anti-government propaganda designed to mislead Clay County voters and supplement the absurd claims of big money real estate interests in Raleigh.

And it is likely to work. An industry that makes close to $2 billion a year in the state has a lot of money to throw around to control elections and mislead voters. Maybe the people in Clay County will be able to see through the propaganda and vote to ask the people who make money off the county's growth help pay for the costs associated with it.

But don't count on it. More likely is more chest-thumping by the realtors and homebuilders and anti-government zealots when the tax is defeated. But that won't prove much. It won't even mean that voters don't want the transfer tax.

It will just be another confirmation that big Raleigh money, slick ads, and faux research funded by the Right can buy elections in small counties. And we already know that. But what do we tell the kids about their overcrowded school?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Clay County Overdrive

The North Carolina Association of Realtors (NCAR) has poured more money into the committee set up by NCAR to defeat the Clay County transfer tax referendum than previously reported. According to the Asheville Citizen Times:

Through Aug. 8, the committee organizing the campaign received $10,000 from the N.C. Home Builders Association and more than $32,500 from the Realtors group, which also loaned the committee $15,000.
Of that $57,500 about $36,200 had been spent by August 8th, or $4.38 per registered voter, a record high. If the amount invested in the committee by NCAR is spent it will come to about $5.72 per registered voter. If the total amount invested in the committee is spent it will come to about $6.93 per registered voter. There are about 8,300 registered voters in Clay County. There are almost 6 million registered voters in North Carolina. Do the math. $10 million won't be enough money to make the transfer tax go away. NCAR will be squeezing its members for years to come.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lobbyists Ranked, Brokers? - Not So Much

While the non-realtor lobbyists who represent realtors get high marks from their peers for excellence in braggadiccio the individual real estate brokers that they claim to represent consistently get poor ratings from the public at large.

This year's Harris Poll measuring public perceptions of 23 professions and occupations again ranks real estate brokers last, a position held for 5 out of 6 years since being added to the survey in 2003. In 2008 only 6% of respondents regarded real estate agent/broker as an occupation having "Very Great Prestige" while 34% ranked the occupation as having "Hardly Any Prestige At All".

What are realtors paying association dues and assessments for? NCAR's lobbyists are polishing their resumes at the expense of NCAR members and public respect for real estate professionals.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Must be nice for a small group of non-realtor buddies to have access to a virtually bottomless well of money filled by millions of dollars in compulsory dues on every real estate broker and licensed or certified appraiser connected to a MLS in North Carolina. When will the North Carolina Real Estate Commission (NCREC) take action to protect consumers and licensed real estate brokers from the predatory and self-perpetuating actions of NCAR? After all, that's part of the NCREC mission:

· To identify and address issues affecting real estate consumers and practitioners
· Detect and monitor special problems and areas of concern affecting real estate consumers and licensees
· Adopt positions, promulgate rules and propose legislation to address problems and concerns
· Disseminate to licensees and consumers information addressing subjects of special interest and concern
You won't find Zechini, Kent, DePriest or Woodard in the NC Licensee database. NCAR's political campaigns, supposedly on behalf of realtors, make claims and statements about transfer taxes and local government spending that would be prohibited if made by an actual real estate licensee to a consumer.
Misrepresentation or Omission [G.S. 93A-6(a)(1)]
Misrepresentation or omission of a material fact by brokers or salespersons is prohibited, and this prohibition includes both “willful” and “negligent” acts. A “willful” act is one that is done intentionally and deliberately, while a “negligent” act is one that is done unintentionally. A “misrepresentation” is communicating false information, while an “omission” is failing to provide or disclose information where there is a duty to provide or disclose such information.
Instead of the disciplinary action that an actual real estate broker would face, NCAR lobbyists are premiated for their powers of influence, regardless of the merits, or lack thereof, of the message:
The highest-ranked lobbyist involved in the transfer tax debate was John McMillan, who ranked 2nd and is a contract lobbyist who represented the N.C. Association of Realtors and 31 other clients. The Realtors Association opposed the real estate transfer tax. Also representing the Realtors Association were executive vice president Tim Kent and Rick Zechini, both of whom ranked among the most influential lobbyists for the first time (11th and 12th, respectively).
Nice work if you can get it

Clay County Overkill

According to the Clay County Progress the North Carolina Association of Realtors (NCAR) has invested $38,000 in "Clay County Citizens Against the Home Tax" the latest local referendum committee set up by William DePriest and run out of NCAR's Greensboro office to defeat the transfer tax. According to voter registration records, Clay County has about 8,300 registered voters. That puts the NCAR investment at about $4.50 per registered voter, a new record high. Election day is Friday, August 29th and early voting has begun.

For the Orange County referendum in May spending per registered voter by NCAR was $1.96, the highest to that point. Area realtor organizations contributed another $0.37 per registered voter (mostly from the Triangle MLS which gave $30,000) while other groups like the National Association of Homebuilders, the NC Homebuilders (NCHBA) and Triangle Community Coalition (TRICC aka realtors and builders) threw in another $0.77 per registered voter. This made for a total of $300,011.66 or $3.11 per registered voter spent in Orange County.

According to the Campaign Reports filed with the Orange County Board of Elections $151,068.90 of that went to Public Solutions Inc, the firm of Chris Sinclair, head of the TRICC, for for flyers, mailings and website design. $23,018.96 went to Cornerstone Strategy of West Palm Beach, the firm of Rick Asnani a political consultant and advisor to TRICC. Sinclair and Asnani have since set up a joint firm called Cornerstone Solutions along with a former NCHBA lobbyist.*

Now NCAR is using even more brute force in Clay County by committing over $4.50 per registered voter to defeat the transfer tax. North Carolina has almost 6 million registered voters (5,913,332 to be exact). Is NCAR planning to spend over $20 million to keep defeating the transfer tax statewide? NCAR is not defending homeowners, especially those on fixed or low incomes. NCAR is defending the property tax with complete overkill.

Who is going to pay for the schools?

Support Your County Transfer Tax

Update: *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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Forced Political Speech

Over the years, mandatory dues and forced political speech have been explored by the courts including the Supreme Court of the United States. Most, but not all, of the cases have involved mandatory union dues and political expenditures beyond the collective bargaining purposes of a union. The protection of members from forced political speech comes from what is know as the Abood line of cases. The case of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education was decided by the Supreme Court in 1977.

The Court ruled that compulsory dues for politics violates the First Amendment and that it is illegal to withhold forced dues from dissenters beyond the cost of collective bargaining.
In 1988 the Supreme Court ruled in Communication Workers v. Beck, a case related to a specific collective bargaining provision, that non-members required to pay dues could not be compelled to pay dues or fees beyond those related to collective bargaining. This established what is known as "Beck rights".

The Supreme Court again ruled June 2007 in a case about the protection of non-members from forced political speech, Davenport v. Washington Education Association, by upholding a Washington State law making it harder for unions to spend mandatory fees collected from nonmembers on political campaigns.
Prior court rulings have held that people required to pay fees to certain organizations for professional or other reasons -- such as attorneys who must join a state bar in order to practice law or undergraduates who are assessed student-government fees -- can't be compelled to contribute to political causes they oppose. Those rulings often have led to "opt-out" policies, in which individuals can request a refund of the portion of their fees that would be used for political speech.
Wall Street Journal 1/8/07
The Supreme Court in 1990 had held in Keller v. State Bar of California that:
1. The State Bar's use of petitioners' compulsory dues to finance political and ideological activities with which petitioners disagree violates their First Amendment right of free speech when such expenditures are not necessarily or reasonably incurred for the purpose of regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.
The virtual monopoly held by the North Carolina Association of Realtors (NCAR) over licensed residential real estate brokers in North Carolina, (NCAR members and non-members alike), North Carolina's Right to Work Law and the case law established by the United States Supreme Court, makes NCAR vulnerable to legal challenge over the mandatory dues assessment for the Issues Mobilization Fund and threatened punishment of dissenting members.

Monday, August 18, 2008

North Carolina Right To Work

North Carolina is a Right To Work state. Most realtors are required by their firms to be members of NCAR. The few licensed real estate brokers who may choose not to be members will see their firms billed for dues anyway. NCAR's mandatory dues appear to skirt North Carolina's Right To Work Law by making the Designated Realtor in a firm liable for nonmember dues, not technically the nonmember. As a practical matter a nonmember licensed real estate broker would be under great pressure to join NCAR or to otherwise reimburse the Designated Realtors for the amount of dues charged. NCAR rules provide that even if the dues assessment for a nonmember is paid by the nonmember, the Designated Realtor is credited with the payment. The relationship between individual real estate brokers and their firms is that of independent contractors and has evaded traditional employer-employee protections and benefits. If it can be shown that aspects of real estate brokers' work are being controlled by the firm, or by others with the acquiescence of the firm, such as mandatory NCAR dues and assessments, violations of IRS rules on Independent Contractors and NC Right To Work Law may be demonstrable. From the Chapter 95: Department of Labor and Labor Regulations of the NC General Statutes:

§ 95-78. Declaration of public policy.

The right to live includes the right to work. The exercise of the right to work must be protected and maintained free from undue restraints and coercion. It is hereby declared to be the public policy of North Carolina that the right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or labor organization or association. (Enacted March 18, 1947.)

§ 95-79. Certain agreements declared illegal.

Any agreement or combination between any employer and any labor union or labor organization whereby persons not members of such union or organization shall be denied the right to work for said employer, or whereby such membership is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or whereby any such union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any enterprise, is hereby declared to be against the public policy and an illegal combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce in the State of North Carolina. (Enacted March 18, 1947.)

§ 95-80. Membership in labor organization as condition of employment prohibited.

No person shall be required by an employer to become or remain a member of any labor union or labor organization as a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer. (Enacted March 18, 1947.)

§ 95-81. Nonmembership as condition of employment prohibited.

No person shall be required by an employer to abstain or refrain from membership in any labor union or labor organization as a condition of employment or continuation of employment. (Enacted March 18, 1947.)

§ 95.82. Payment of dues as condition of employment prohibited.

No employer shall require any person, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, to pay any dues, fees, or other charges of any kind to any labor union or labor organization. (Enacted March 18, 1947.)

§ 95-83. Recovery of damages by persons denied employment.

Any person who may be denied employment or be deprived of continuation of his employment in violation of G.S. 95-80, 95-81 and 95-82 or of one or more of such sections, shall be entitled to recover from such employer and from any other person, firm, corporation, or association acting in concert with him by appropriate action in the courts of this State such damages as he may have sustained by reason of such denial or deprivation of employment. (Enacted March 18, 1947.)

The right to live includes the right to work. The exercise of the right to work must be protected and maintained free from undue restraints and coercion. It is hereby declared to be the public policy of North Carolina that the right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or labor organization or association. (Enacted March 18, 1947.)

§ 95-84. Application of Article.

The provisions of this Article shall not apply to any lawful contract in force on the effective date hereof but they shall apply in all respects to contracts entered into thereafter and to any renewal or extension of any existing contract. (Enacted March 18, 1947.)

How NCAR Controls Nonmembers

The North Carolina Association of Realtors (NCAR)controls the North Carolina residential real estate business by exacting dues for all licensed residential real estate brokers and appraisers in North Carolina member firms whether they are members of NCAR or not making it certain that NCAR's ranks are swollen with people simply taking advantage of benefits they can not avoid paying for.

Realtors and appraisers who need access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) are required to be members of the North Carolina Association of Realtors, an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors, and pay local, state and national dues. It is a little known fact that NCAR also exacts dues for nonmember licensed real estate brokers and appraisers in members firms regardless of whether those brokers and appraisers are accessing the MLS. By requiring a Designated Realtor in a member firm to pay dues for nonmembers in the firm NCAR is strong-arming all licensed real estate agents and appraisers in the residential trade in North Carolina into contributing to NCAR directly or indirectly.

Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors Bylaws:

(a) The dues of each Designated REALTOR® Member shall be in such amount as established annually by the Board of Directors. Also, an additional amount shall be established annually by the Board of Directors times the number of real estate sales persons and licensed or certified appraisers who are (1) employed by or affiliated as independent contractors, or who are otherwise directly or indirectly licensed with the REALTOR® who are (2) not REALTOR® Members of any Association in the state or a state contiguous thereto Institute Affiliate Members of the Association.
Brunswick County Designated Realtor Dues Notice:
A non-member licensee assessment of $490 will be charged for each licensee in your office that is not a member of the Brunswick County Association of REALTORS®.
North Carolina Association of Realtors Bylaws:
The dues of the Association for each REALTOR® Member holding primary membership in a Local Board shall be an amount as established by a majority vote of the Board of Directors, plus an amount as established by a majority vote of the Board of Directors times the number of real estate licensees and licensed or certified appraisers who are employed by or affiliated as independent contractors with such members and who are not themselves REALTORS®, provided however, that if two or more REALTORS® are principals of the same firm, partnership, or corporation, then only that REALTOR® designated from time to time in writing (the "designated REALTOR®") by the firm, partnership, or corporation shall be required to pay that portion of the dues which is computed on the basis of the real estate licensees and licensed or certified appraisers employed by or affiliated as independent contractors with such firm, partnership, or corporation, and the dues of the remaining REALTORS® who are principals of such firm, partnership, or corporation shall be an amount as established by a majority vote of the Board of Directors.
Names: Each year and throughout the year as required, each Local Board shall provide the Association the names of the REALTOR® and Affiliate Members of the Board, and the names of licensees affiliated with REALTOR® Members of the Board who are not themselves members of the Local Board. Any such names shall be provided by a Local Board together with applicable dues.
National Association of Realtors from standard DESIGNATED REALTOR® CERTIFICATION FORM:
This Board/Association's dues policy provides that: the dues of each Designated REALTOR® shall be a base amount plus an amount multiplied by the number of real estate salespersons and licensed or certified appraisers who: (1) are employed by or affiliated with as independent contractors or who are otherwise directly or indirectly licensed or certified with such REALTOR® member; (2) are not REALTOR® or Institute Affiliate members of the Board/Association, and the Designated REALTOR® notifies the Board/Association in writing of the Board/Association which dues have been paid. Therefore, please list all real estate licensees and licensed or certified appraisers in the firm and the primary Board or Association affiliation, if any. If no membership at any Board/Association in the state, check the non-member box for that person. This list shall be used by the Board/Association for dues calculation. Attach additional sheet if necessary.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Realtors Held Hostage

Raleigh area Realtors Becky Harper and Carlton Brown have written an op-ed about the special assessment imposed on members by the North Carolina Association of Realtors for the political Issues Mobilization Fund. The article appeared in this morning's Raleigh News & Observer.

  Realtors Held Hostage

Realtors statewide have received a $70 mandatory assessment levied by the N.C. Association of Realtors to replenish its Issues Mobilization Fund. The Realtors association will use this money to pay for lobbying against things such as proposed stormwater management rules in coastal counties and Jordan Lake, and against steep-slope building restrictions in the mountains.
Every Realtor is forced to pay these fees. Failure to pay will eliminate access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the essential tool of a Realtor's trade.
The association has created a myth that it speaks for a huge constituency of committed members and has backed this up with its deep pockets. Its leadership, staff and paid lobbyists have used this massive fund to advance an agenda with little meaningful input from the thousands of residential Realtors who pay their dues just to maintain MLS access.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Incentive Disclosure Rules

A change to real estate rules in North Carolina will require written disclosure of commissions, incentives, bonuses, rebates and other considerations provided to real estate brokers including the value of the payments and the identity of the person or company making the payment. The changes to Real Estate Commission Rules were approved by the NC Rules Review Commission on July 17th, 2008 and scheduled for formal publication in the NC Register September 2nd, 2008. The rules had been approved by the Real Estate Commission in May though at one point it appeared that the Real Estate Commission was hesitating to vote on them due to pressure from the real estate industry. The rules become effective October 1st, 2008.

The change was spawned by the publication of an article in the Charlotte Observer in 2007 (noted previously in a post called Bonus Round). The investigative reporting by Peter St. Onge and Binyamin Applebaum revealed that home buyers were unaware that their real estate brokers had received a bonus from the homebuilders selling them houses. The NC Real Estate Commission established an "Incentive Disclosure Advisory Commission" which issued a report November 2007 with three main observations/recommendations:

After reviewing and discussing the relevant issues, the committee determined that proper disclosure of incentives of more than nominal value requires:

1. That the disclosure be in writing and preferably accompanied by an oral explanation of the incentive arrangement, that it be prominent, and that it be acknowledged by the agent’s clients; but if the client fails to acknowledge the written disclosure, the broker may proceed with the transaction after noting this in his or her transaction records.

2. That the value of the incentive be disclosed and, if other than cash, a description of the incentive item and its monetary value stated.

3. That the disclosure by the agent be timely; i.e., preferably while showing properties for which an incentive is being offered, but in no event later than the making of the buyer’s offer to purchase such properties.

The committee then concluded that, since the current Commission rule on disclosing the receipt of sales incentives does not require that the disclosure be made in writing nor does it address the timing or content of the disclosure, the rule should be amended to incorporate the disclosure elements it identified.
The Commission went on to develop amendments to the rules which were submitted to the Rules Review Commission and published in the North Carolina Register:

(a) A licensee shall not receive, either directly or indirectly, any commission, rebate or other valuable consideration of more than nominal value from a vendor or a supplier of goods and services for an expenditure made on behalf of the licensee's principal in a real estate transaction without the written consent of the licensee's principal.

(b) A licensee shall not receive, either directly or indirectly, any commission, incentive, bonus,rebate rebate, or other valuable consideration of more than nominal value for services which the licensee provides, recommends, procures, or arranges relating to a real estate transaction for any party, without full and timely disclosure to such party; party. Full disclosure shall include a description of the commission, incentive, bonus, rebate, or other consideration including its value and the identity of the person or party by whom it will or may be paid. A disclosure under this rule is timely when it is made in sufficient time to aid a reasonable person's decision-making. provided, however, that nothing When the party is the licensee's principal, the licensee shall also confirm the disclosure in writing before the party makes or accepts an offer to purchase, lease, rent, or option, or before the party enters into any other contract relating to a real estate transaction. Nothing in this Rule shall be construed to require a licensee to disclose to a person not his principal the compensation the licensee expects to receive from his principal in a real estate sales or lease transaction or from the licensee's employing broker. Nothing in this Rule shall be construed to permit a licensee to accept any fee, kickback or other valuable consideration that is prohibited by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 (12 USC 2601 et. seq.) or any rules and regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development pursuant to such Act. said Act or to fail to make any disclosure required by said Act or rules.

(c) The Commission shall not act as a board of arbitration and shall not compel parties to settle disputes concerning such matters as the rate of commissions, the division of commissions, pay of brokers, and similar matters.

(d) Except as provided in (e) of this rule, a licensee shall not undertake in any manner, any arrangement, contract, plan or other course of conduct, to compensate or share compensation with unlicensed persons or entities for any acts performed in North Carolina for which licensure by the Commission is required.
A public hearing was held April 16th, 2008 by the Real Estate Commission and the proposed amendment, with minor technical changes was approved by the Rules Review Commission July 17th, 2008.
Pending action by the [Real Estate] Commission on the proposed rule change, licensees are reminded that they are required by current Commission rules to fully disclose to their clients any compensation incentive they are offered and that federal law requires them to report on the HUD-1 form their “total sales/broker’s commission” including any compensation incentives.
Reporting of incentives is particularly problematic for buyers of new homes when builders provide performance incentives to realtors many months after a sale. The rules change will require written disclosure prior to an offer of incentives such as bonuses and realtor reward programs such as those offered in NC by Atreus Homes:

In 2007 the yearlong "Dream On"program of Atreus Homes & Communities, formerly HomeLife Communities,provided $10,000 each month to the three top-selling agents.
Winners, rewarded quarterly, were:
· First -- ($5,000) Tiffany Richardson, Coldwell Banker Howard Perry & Walston
· Second -- ($3,000) Janet Smith, Fonville Morisey
· Third -- ($2,000) Phi Jacobs, New
· First -- ($5,000) Norma Abney, Realty World
· Second -- ($3,000) Teresa Pitt, Century 21/Vicki Berry
· Third -- ($2,000) Robert Page, Page Agency
· First -- ($5,000) Ingrid Wright, ReMax Highlander Realty
· Second -- ($3,000) Glen Savio, Fonville Morisey
· Third -- ($2,000) Zach James, Pinnacle Properties
July Winners
· First place -- Jasper Gorham, Realty Executives Triangle
· Second place -- Hilda Eubanks, Brokers United Realty
· Third place -- Neill McLeod, Access Real Estate Services
August Winners
· First place -- Phi Jacobs, New
· Second place -- Jeanine Lind, Allen Tate
· Third place -- Nigre Holcroft, New Homes Realty
September Winners
· First place -- Tiffany Richardson, Coldwell Banker Howard Perry & Walston
· Second place – Mark Connor, Fonville Morisey
· Third place – Rachael Leber, Coldwell Banker Howard, Perry & Walston
October 2007 Winners
· First place – Mark Connor – Fonville Morisey
· Second place – Kirk Keyes – America’s Best Realty
· Third place -- Samuel Pyrtle – Fonville Morisey
November 2007 Winners
· First place – George Wilson – Real Living Partners Triangle Inc.
· Second place – Thomas Wohl – ReMax Preferred Associates
· Third place – Ransford Thompson, Real Estate Today
December 2007 Winners
· First place -- Barbara Brotherson – ReMax United
· Second place -- Rachael Snow Lam – First Triangle Realty Inc.
· Third place- Julie Crespo – Crespo Real Estate
In 2008 Atreus recognized and awarded Triangle-area Realtors with $20,000 in cash prizes for quarterly “Extreme Realtors Rewards Program” Realtor incentive program.
Winners for the first quarter of 2008 are:
· First place – Laura Bonds – Bonds & Associates Realty - $10,000
· Second place – Sandra Smith – Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston - $5,000
· Third place - Robbin Sutton - Pinnacle Realty - $3,000
· Fourth place – Larry Thomas - Brokers United - $2,000
Winners for the second quarter of 2008 are:
· $10,000 First Place Winner – Donnis Dunn of A. Dunn Deal Realty
· $5,000 Second Place Winner – Christian Isaacs of Isaacs Realty
· $3,000 Third Place Winner – Maggie Hobberchalk of NC Neighborhood Realty
· $2,000 Fourth Place Winner – Arneta Wicker of A. Wicker Realty
Atreus Homes Raleigh reports offering 3% commission and, additional flex money on certain homes. Flex money is most often a euphemism for down payment assistance (DPA) which has been banned by recent federal legislation for FHA guaranteed mortgages.

Note to IRS

Re: Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities of the North Carolina Association of Realtors, an IRC 501(c)(6) Organization.

Proxy taxes? We ain't got no proxy taxes. We don't need no proxy taxes! I don't have to show you any stinkin' proxy taxes!

"Like it or not, we are in the business of politics"
Wendell Bullard, NCAR President 2008
"If there is anyone who doesn’t think we are in politics…think again"
Cindy Chandler, NCAR President 2006
In general, no deduction is allowed for expenditures in connection with any attempt to influence the general public or segments thereof with respect to legislative matters, grassroots lobbying; elections; or referendums. See IRC § 162(e)(1)(C).
If the actual lobbying and political campaign expenditures of an organization subject to IRC 6033(e) exceed the amount that it notified its members was not deductible (either because the expenses were higher than anticipated or the dues receipts were lower), the organization is liable for a proxy tax on the excess amount. IRC 6033(e)(2)(A). The organization may seek a waiver of the proxy tax.

An organization may use this waiver procedure only if it sent dues notices at the time of assessment or payment of dues that reasonably estimated the dues allocable to nondeductible lobbying and political campaign expenditures.
Public copies of IRS 990 tax returns for NCAR indicate that NCAR did not elect to use this waiver on line 85h.
The amount subject to the IRC 6033(e)(2) proxy tax equals lobbying and political campaign expenditures under IRC 162 minus the amount disclosed to the members as nondeductible.

For more IRS information read: IRC 501(c)(6) Organizations and IRS procedure for Examining Business Leagues - IRC 501(c)(6)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How NAR Controls MLS Access

Procedures to Be Followed by an Association of REALTORS® Upon Demand for Access to the Association’s Multiple Listing Service without Association Membership

In states other than California, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, whenever an association is confronted with a request or demand by an individual for access to the association’s multiple listing service without membership in the association, member associations are advised that the association should immediately advise both the state association and the Member Policy Department of the National Association, and the recommended procedures will be provided to the member association with any other pertinent information or assistance. It is important that the state association and National Association be advised immediately if such request or demand for access to the association MLS as described is received.
Adoption is necessary to ensure compliance with mandatory policies established by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Board of Directors and coverage under the National Association’s master professional liability insurance policy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shoot The Messenger

NCAR Membership Declines

Membership in the North Carolina Association of Realtors (NCAR) declined in 2008 having peaked in 2007, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The current membership roll of 41,872 as of 7/31/2008 is 2.14% below the enrollment of 42,788 at the same time last year and is below the 2007 year end total of 43,342 members. This is consistent with a national decline in NAR membership which saw an average drop of 7.7% from 1,363,493 to 1,257,491, a loss of 106,002 members since 7/31/2007. Membership in NAR peaked in October 2006 at 1,370,758. The only territories that saw an increase in membership were Wyoming (+24), South Dakota (+23) and, Guam (+33). The rate of growth in NCAR membership actually peaked in 2006 at 17% slowing to 5% in 2007 before turning negative for the first time in about 15 years.

Friday, August 1, 2008

High Point Realtors Coerced PAC Payments

In 2005 the High Point Regional Association of Realtors (HPRAR) publicly mocked realtor members who had not contributed to the Realtors Political Action Committe (RPAC). Realtor Michael Pugh of High Point filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that resulted in a $4,500 fine and a "cease and desist order" imposed on the HPRAR in 2007. A summary of the complaint and statement of the $4,500 civil penalty and specific violations of federal election laws can be found in the Conciliation Agreement 2/8/2007. Read the text and documentation of the newsletter taunts in Original Complaint 9/21/2005 and follow-up regarding Powerpoint presentation slides in the Supplement to Complaint 9/30/2005

RE: MUR 5681
High Point Regional Association of Realtors

1. HPRAR is a local association of realtors affiliated with the National Association of Realtors (“NAR’). As a local affiliate of NAR, HPRAR regularly solicits its members for contributions to NAR's separate segregated fund, the National Association of Realtors Political Action Committee (“RPAC”).

2. In August 2005, HPRAR listed the name of each individual realtor member who had not contributed to RPAC on two pages of its eight-page monthly newsletter. The names of the non-contributing individuals were listed under the name of their company, and the percentage of contributing members from each company appeared next to the company’s name. Companies that had a 100% contribution rate fiom its individual members were listed at the very top of the two-page list under the heading “2005 100% RPAC Companies.” No individual names of members who had already made contributions to RPAC were listed anywhere in the two-page spread. At the bottom of the second page there is a logo of RPAC with the question: “Have you made your contribution?” (Emphasis in original.) .

3. The newsletter also contained an article summarizing new state legislation “that makes significant improvements to the State’s real estate licensing law.” The end of the article stated, “These bills are representative of your RPAC dollars at work to improve our industry standards and working environment as well as to firher protect our customers and clients, the real estate consumer. Have you given your RPAC fair share? The article then gave a “special RPAC thanks” to an individual realtor member for her generous monetary support of RPAC.

4. HPRAR also displayed the names of non-contributing members on an overhead projection screen at the association’s monthly meetings and at the association’s 2005 Annual Meeting, held on September 21,2005, where checks were being presented to local candidates.

5. It is unlawful for a solicitation for contributions, whether written or oral, to fail to inform the employee or member being solicited at the time of the solicitation of the political purposes of the separate segregated fbnd and of his or her right to refuse to so contribute without any reprisal.

6. The solicitation in this matter lacked proper notice of the political purposes of RPAC and the member's right to refuse to contribute without reprisal, as required by [federal election law].

V. Respondent improperly solicited contributions to a separate segregated fund by failing to inform members being solicited at the time of solicitation of the political purposes of the RPAC fund and of the members' right to refuse to contribute without reprisal, in violation of [federal election law]. Respondent contends that the violation was inadvertent.

VI. Respondent will pay a civil penalty to the Federal Election Commission in the amount of Four Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($4,500).

VII. Respondent will cease and desist from violating [federal election law] by providing proper notice of the political purposes of the separate segregated fund for which contributions are being solicited, and the member's right to refuse to contribute to such fund without any reprisal, in any and all solicitations for contributions, whether written or oral, at the time such solicitation is made.

For further information search the FEC Enforcement Query System with Case #: 5681