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FAR

Florida Realtors and NAR Advocating for the Industry

A myriad of economic aid packages has been suggested, formed, changed, rejected and even passed, and Realtor associations keep pushing lawmakers to include Realtors and their unique type of employment in aid packages that offer to help small businesses.

ORLANDO, Fla. – In a sea of legislative proposals to offset damage for the COVID-19 pandemic – economic aid packages have been suggested, formed, changed, rejected and even passed – the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), Florida Realtors and other state associations have joined the discussion to advocate for real estate agents who could easily be overlooked when lawmakers propose solutions for individuals and small businesses.

In Florida, Barry Grooms, Florida Realtors president, wrote a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, along with the Florida Land Title Association and Florida Home Builders Association, asking that the governor “consider real estate transactions and title recording be declared as essential services which should remain active.”

An essential-services designation would be especially important if DeSantis orders more business shutdowns, since it takes a number of businesses – inspectors, appraisers, title companies, etc. – to keep home sales moving forward. DeSantis also advocated for government services needed to keep real estate closing on track, and “the recording and other work of the County Clerk and Comptrollers Recorders be declared an essential service.”

Much of the advocacy work takes place at the federal level, however, as Congress works on initiatives to boost the economy and help individuals and businesses facing an unexpected and sometimes steep drop-off in revenue.

NAR issued an update on what it’s doing, saying it has urged Congressional leaders to include support for self-employed professionals, small businesses and independent contractors in any COVID-19 relief package. It has also been working with regulatory officials to make sure Realtors’ unique circumstances aren’t forgotten during fast-moving rule changes.

NAR also included a list of updates that have taken place over the past two weeks:

 Members and families

 The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) created emergency paid sick and family leave for workers affected by COVID-19. It also created refundable tax credits designed to provide a dollar-for-dollar offset for small businesses and independent contractors to cover the cost of those new paid sick and family medical leave benefits.

Details have not yet been released, however, including possible exemptions for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

 NAR also signed a coalition letter encouraging Congress to provide readily accessible, unsecured credit to employers of any size and self-employed individuals to ensure they have the cash to pay their workers, rent and other costs during this crisis.

NAR says it’s advocating for an array of other tax changes too that would benefit Realtor members.

Consumers and transactions

 NAR is working with other trade associations and industry partners to expand access to remote online notary availability in pandemic relief bills. It also called for direct rental assistance for families who have income loss due to COVID-19 and relief for property owners from the financial obligations of forbearance and foreclosures.

 It also “saw more action out of the FHFA to temporarily expand the use of appraisal alternatives and provide flexibility around employment verification, such as acceptance of email from employer or bank statements showing payroll deposits.” NAR says this would help when a business is closed and it can only offer oral verification.

Real estate business/industry

 NAR is working to get certain real estate services deemed “essential” in emergency declarations – the same issue Florida Realtors asked of DeSantis. NAR is pushing the importance of employment in the real estate industry, saying, “There are 9.5 million jobs in the real estate, rental and leasing industry, and every two home sales generate one job.”

For investors, 1031 like-kind exchanges face some unique problems. NAR say it asked the Treasury to include deadline relief for 1031 like-kind exchanges, including an extension of the 45-day period for identifying possible properties as exchange candidates and the 180-day requirement to close on the replacement property.

NAR also asked the Treasury Department and IRS for deadline relief for the working capital safe harbor for Qualified Opportunity Funds.

For more information and updates on NAR efforts, visit its COVID-19 webpage.

© 2020 Florida Realtors®