Realtors group aims to influence politics in new ways

WASHINGTON — The National Assn. of Realtors, a political heavyweight with a million-plus members, has embarked on two initiatives to ensure that when key votes are taken at all levels of government, the Realtors’ point of view will be heard loud and clear.

As part of a broader consumer outreach strategy, the Realtors group for the first time will engage consumers directly through emails and browser ads that introduce the association as their ally in homeownership. The group also has launched a novel political-campaign school to help elect members to office on the local, state and national levels.

On the surface, the email campaign seems innocuous. After all, the group already spends millions to pursue its agenda on national TV and radio ads, a consumer-focused radio program and a consumer-centric website. So what are a few emails?

  • Also
  • Looking to buy an island?

    Looking to buy an island?

  • Energy-efficient home shoppers should look for Energy Star label

  • Refinancing mortgage for shorter term can bring huge savings

But the undertaking is gargantuan, involving messages sent directly from the Realtors group to about 82 million current and aspiring homeowners. The task is so herculean that the association figures it will take up to six weeks to send the emails.

The effect the effort could have on the issues of the moment could be just as enormous. More often than not, the Realtors’ agenda is in tandem with the interests of buyers, sellers and owners of real estate. There is, as the group says on its website, “a natural alliance.”

But every once in a while, those interests are at odds, such as Realtors’ refusal to support a mandatory energy scoring program for existing houses. The proposed program would enable buyers to compare the relative efficiency of all houses, but the association has opposed the measure because it would stigmatize older properties that don’t measure up.

The first email barrage, sent in July, was designed to make current and future owners aware of the value of homeownership and to introduce the Realtors group as their friend, the association says. The idea is to forge a direct relationship with consumers on behalf of Realtors and, when and if necessary, get recipients to express their support by voting or by contacting their elected officials.

To see how easily that might affect the process, consider an experiment the group is undertaking with HomeActions, an electronic newsletter that agents buy for distribution under their names to their clients. Under the National Assn. of Realtors’ deal with the privately produced newsletter, articles favorable to the association can be inserted among the stories about insurance, short sales and product recalls.

Individual agents — HomeActions has 1,800 subscribers — can choose whether to include the message, says Rick Miller, the association’s director of political programs. “We can’t dictate politics to our members, so we are giving them a choice to opt out if a particular issue is too controversial,” he says.

If the article is included, it could ask the 650,000 recipients to click a link that signs their names to letters to their elected officials in the statehouse or in Washington. It’s one thing to receive letters or visits from a relative handful of businessmen and women, says HomeActions publisher Albert Clark, but it’s another to hear from thousands of voters.

And make no mistake, homeowners are voters. Some 85% of owners are registered to vote, according to Miller.

Of course, they don’t all agree on the issues, even when it comes to preserving the blessed mortgage interest deduction. “I don’t know anybody who agrees 100% with everybody,” Miller says.

But “when it comes times for homeowners to weigh in,” newsletter publisher Clark says, “they will be informed, up to speed and engaged. Getting an agent to call his lawmakers isn’t working anymore. But when a story falls and voters push a button, it can effect a lot of political pressure.”

No real estate professional has ever won the White House. But hundreds of them serve as elected and appointed officials in governmental bodies, from local planning commissions to Congress. And there could be many more if the political-campaign school proves effective.

Launched nationally this spring, the initiative is designed to teach Realtors how to run successful political campaigns at the local, state and national levels.

Although Gerald Allen, the Realtors group’s managing director of campaign services, says the group’s Candidate Training Academy “is fundamentally focused on the process of winning campaigns, not issues,” the program is clearly aimed at protecting the things Realtors hold dear — first and foremost, the real estate profession.

The Realtors association is not telling its members to run for political office. But for those who have an interest, whether they want to be dogcatcher, county commissioner or president, the voluntary daylong program will give them a head start.

Among other things, the core curriculum covers research, fundraising, voter contact and getting out the vote.

Of course, duly elected real estate professionals may not always vote the way the Realtors group wants. But an article in the association’s magazine for state and local association executives quotes Andy Fegley, director of government affairs for the Southeast Valley Regional Assn. of Realtors in Arizona:

“It does, however, give you someone who understands the real estate industry and the demand for sound policy that protects the way Realtors do business.”

lsichelman@aol.com

Distributed by Universal Uclick for United Feature Syndicate.

Campaign Spending Limits Supported By Most Voters: Poll

WASHINGTON — Americans don’t like all the cash that’s going to super political action committees and other outside groups that are pouring millions of dollars into races for president and Congress.

More than 8 in 10 Americans in a poll by The Associated Press and the National Constitution Center support limits on the amount of money given to groups that are trying to influence U.S. elections.

But they might have to change the Constitution first. The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case removed limits on independent campaign spending by businesses and labor unions, calling it a constitutionally protected form of political speech.

“Corporate donations, I think that is one of the biggest problems today,” said Walter L. Cox Sr., 86, of Cleveland. “They are buying the White House. They are buying public office.”

Cox, a Democrat, was one of many people in the poll who do not, in spite of the high court ruling, think corporate and union campaign spending should be unlimited.

The strong support for limiting the amount of money in politics stood alongside another poll finding that shows Americans have a robust view of the right to free speech. Seventy-one percent of the 1,006 adults in the AP-NCC poll said people should have the right to say what they please, even if their positions are deeply offensive to others.

The ringing endorsement of First Amendment freedoms matched the public’s view of the Constitution as an enduring document, even as Americans hold the institutions of government, other than the military, in very low regard.

“The Constitution is 225 years old and 70 percent of Americans continue to believe that it’s an enduring document that’s relevant today, even as they lose faith in some of the people who have been given their job descriptions by the Constitution,” said David Eisner, the constitution center’s chief executive officer.

For the first time in the five years the poll has been conducted, more than 6 in 10 Americans favor giving same-sex couples the same government benefits as opposite-sex married couples. That’s an issue, in one form or another, the Supreme Court could take up in the term that begins Oct. 1.

More than half of Americans support legal recognition of gay marriage, although that number is unchanged from a year ago. In the past three years, though, there has been both a significant uptick in support for gay marriage, from 46 percent to 53 percent, and a decline in opposition to it, from 53 percent to 42 percent.

Loretta Hamburg, 68, of Woodland Hills, Calif., tried to explain why support for gay marriage lags behind backing for same-sex benefits.

“If they’ve been in a long relationship and lived together and if it’s a true relationship, long lasting, it would be OK to have the same rights,” Hamburg said.

But she does not support a same-sex union because “it would open up a lot of other things, like a man wanting two or three wives. I believe in marriage. They could call it something else if they want to give it a different definition. But I don’t think it’s right and that’s what I feel.”

The poll also found a slight increase in the share of Americans who say voting rights for minorities require legal protection, although the public is divided over whether such laws still are needed. Sixty percent of Democrats say those protections are still needed, compared with 40 percent of independents and 33 percent of Republicans.

One potential influence was that the survey was conducted amid lawsuits and political rhetoric over the validity of voter identification laws in several states. The laws mainly have been backed by Republican lawmakers who say they want to combat voter fraud. Democrats, citing academic studies that found there is very little voter fraud, have called the laws thinly veiled attempts to make it harder for Democratic-leaning minority voters to cast ballots.

Two areas in which there has been little change in public attitudes in spite of major events are gun control and President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

No matter that the Supreme Court upheld the health law, nearly three-fourths of Americans say the government should not have the power to require people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. It didn’t matter in the poll whether the penalty was described as a tax or a fine.

The July 20 mass shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater that killed 12 people and wounded 58 others did not move opinion on gun rights, where 49 percent oppose gun control measures and 43 percent said limits on gun ownership would not infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms.

Retired Army Col. Glenn Werther, 62, called the Colorado shootings a “horrible thing,” but said gun control is not the answer to curbing violence. “There are crazy people out there. How you monitor that, I have no idea,” said Werther, a resident of Broad Brook, Conn., and a member of the National Rifle Association. “People are going to get guns that should not have them.”

The National Constitution Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that operates a Philadelphia museum and other educational programs about the Constitution.

The AP-NCC Poll was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs Corporate Communications from Aug. 16-20, using landline and cellphone interviews with 1,006 randomly chosen adults. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

___

Associated Press Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta, AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and AP writer Stacy Anderson contributed to this report.

___

Online:

Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

National Constitution Center: http://constitutioncenter.org/

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow

  • Sheldon Adelson And Family

    Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate, and his family have combined to give $37.75 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. At first, Adelson pumped money into Winning Our Future, the super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, but now he is funding groups backing Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans. Adelson is ranked on the emForbes/em list of the richest Americans at number eight, with $21.5 billion in net worth.

    Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, gave $15 million to Winning Our Future. His daughters Sivan Ochshorn and Shelley Maye Adelson each chipped in $500,000. Another daughter and her husband each gave $250,000. Adelson and his wife have also given $10 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $5 million to Congressional Leadership Fund, $5 million to YG Action Fund, $1 million to Freedom PAC (supporting Connie Mack) and $250,000 to Conservative Renewal PAC (supporting David Dewhurst).

    Adelson remained in the number one spot among super PAC donors after counting contributions for July. His involvement in politics revolves around his support for the state of Israel, a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/11/sheldon-adelson-newt-gingrich-israel_n_1195867.html” target=”_hplink”in particular the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu/a. His business, along with that of other super PAC donors, a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/sheldon-adelson-bribery-super-pac-donors-fcpa_n_1602694.html” target=”_hplink”is also under investigation/a for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

  • Harold And Annette Simmons

    Harold Simmons, the octogenarian Dallas businessman, combined with his wife Annette and his company, Contran Corp., to donate $19,205,000 to super PACs. Simmons is listed in emForbes/em magazine as the 33rd richest person in America with a net worth of $9.3 billion.

    Simmons and Contran donated $13 million to American Crossroads, $1 million to Make Us Great Again (supporting Rick Perry), $1.1 million to Winning Our Future (supporting Newt Gingrich), $800,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney) and $100,000 to Restoring Prosperity Fund (formerly Americans for Rick Perry). Annette Simmons gave $1.2 million to Red White And Blue Fund (supporting Rick Santorum). Simmons has also given $750,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund and $500,000 to Conservative Renewal PAC, both super PACs supporting Senate candidate David Dewhurst. He gave another $5,000 to Freedom PAC, which supports Connie Mack for Senate in Florida.

    Simmons — who explained that he is contributing money to super PACs to a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/harold-simmons-obama_n_1371642.html”stop “that socialist,” President Barack Obama/a — remains in second place among super PAC donors.

  • Bob Perry

    Texas homebuilder Bob Perry contributed $13.9 million to super PACs. Perry is one of the most prolific donors in contemporary political history. He was a major backer of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the outside group that helped torpedo John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004. Perry’s net worth has been estimated at around $650 million.

    Perry has given $8 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $4.5 million to American Crossroads, $1 million to Congressional Leadership Fund, $300,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst), and $100,000 to Make Us Great Again (supporting Rick Perry, who is of no relation).

  • National Education Association

    The National Education Association, the largest U.S. labor union representing teachers, contributed $5.33 million to super PACs.

    The union gave $4.9 million to its own super PAC, the NEA Advocacy Fund, $250,000 to DGA Action, $100,000 to American Bridge 21st Century and $5,000 to the Patriot Majority PAC.

  • Peter Thiel

    Peter Thiel, the hedge fund manager, venture capitalist and early Facebook investor, contributed $4.73 million through June 2012 to super PACs. Thiel, a radical libertarian, ranks 293 on the emForbes/em list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.5 billion.

    The majority of Thiel’s money, $2.73 million, has gone to Endorse Liberty, a super PAC supporting Ron Paul in the Republican presidential race. He has since switched his giving to Club for Growth Action, the super PAC of the ultra-conservative free market Club for Growth. Thiel has given $2 million to the Club super PAC.

  • Robert Rowling And TRT Holdings

    Robert Rowling, the Texas billionaire who runs the business holding company TRT Holdings, has contributed $4.135 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Rowling ranks 66 on emForbes’/em list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $4.7 billion.

    He gave $4 million to American Crossroads, $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $35,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst).

  • Service Employees International Union

    The Service Employees International Union, the nation’s fastest growing labor union representing close to 2 million people, contributed $4.11 million to super PACs. SEIU is one of the most politically active unions in the country.

    SEIU has given $1.35 million to Florida Freedom PAC, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $550,000 to Service Employees International Union PEA-Federal, $425,000 to Rethink PAC (opposing Scott Brown), $311,000 to House Majority PAC, $250,000 to Majority PAC, $200,000 to American Bridge 21st Century and $17,750 to Working For Us PAC.

  • Fred Eychaner

    Fred Eychaner, the Chicago-based media mogul who made his fortune with Newsweb Corp., gave $3.25 million to super PACs. He is a longtime funder of outside groups backing Democrats, having contributed $2 million to so-called 527 groups in the effort to defeat President George W. Bush in 2004. Eychaner is also a noted LGBT activist and has funded efforts to promote equality.

    Eychaner gave $1.5 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $800,000 to Majority PAC, $750,000 to House Majority PAC and $200,000 to America Votes Action Fund.

  • Crow Holdings LLC, Harlan Crow and Trammell Crow

    Crow Holdings LLC, which manages the wealth of the late real estate developer Trammel Crow, its director Harlan Crow and his brother Trammel S. Crow have contributed $3.135 million to super PACs through June 2012.

    Harlan Crow, Trammel S. Crow and the company combined to give $1.5 million to American Crossroads, $1.3 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $250,000 to FreedomWorks for America, $50,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst) and $35,000 to Campaign for Primary Accountability.

  • William Koch, Oxbow Carbon And Huron Carbon

    William Koch, the lesser-known Koch brother, and two of his companies, petroleum, energy and minerals companies Oxbow Carbon and Huron Carbon, gave $3 million to Restore Our Future (backing Romney).

  • Robert And Rebekah Mercer

    Robert Mercer (left), the co-CEO of the $15 billion hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, gave $2.865 million to super PACs.

    Robert Mercer contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $1 million to American Crossroads, $600,000 to Club for Growth Action and $200,000 to National Horizon. Rebekah Mercer gave $50,000 to the Coalition for American Values and $15,000 to the Club for Growth.

  • Cooperative Of American Physicians

    The a href=”http://www.capphysicians.com/about_us” target=”_hplink”Cooperative of American Physicians/a is a medical malpractice and medical liability insurer. The group has contributed $2.63 million to its own super PAC. No other information has been provided on the source of the funds contributed by the cooperative.

  • John Childs

    John Childs, the head of the Boston-based private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates, has contributed $2.625 million to super PACs.

    Childs has contributed $1.125 million to Club for Growth Action, $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney) and $500,000 to American Crossroads.

  • Jerry Perenchio

    Jerry Perenchio, founder of the Spanish language television network Univision, contributed $2.6 million to super PACs. Perenchio ranks 171 on the emForbes/em list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.3 billion.

    Perenchio gave $2 million to American Crossroads, $500,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), and $100,000 to Our Destiny (supporting Jon Huntsman).

  • Joseph Craft And Alliance Management Holdings

    Joseph Craft and his holding company, Alliance Management Holdings, gave $2.6 million to super PACs. Craft is ranked 331 on the emForbes/em list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.3 billion. Alliance Management Holdings is a privately held company run by Craft with significant shares in the managing partner of Alliance Resource Partners.

    Craft and his company gave $2.1 million to American Crossroads, including $1.675 million in May, and $500,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney).

  • John Ramsey

    John Ramsey, a 21-year old college student who inherited millions from his banker grandfather, contributed $2.45 million to super PACs.

    The majority of the young libertarian’s contributions went to his own super PAC, Liberty for All. Another $450 went to Revolution PAC, which supported Ron Paul for the Republican nomination for president.

  • Foster Friess

    Foster Friess, the Wyoming investor, contributed $2.425 million to super PACs, mostly to those supporting the presidential candidacy of Rick Santorum. Since Santorum dropped out of the race, Friess has shifted his contributions to help Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans. Friess is estimated to be worth above $500 million.

    He has given $2.1 million to Red White and Blue Fund (supporting Santorum), $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $100,000 to FreedomWorks, $50,000 to Leaders for Families (also supporting Santorum), $25,000 to Friends of the Majority, $25,000 to USA Super PAC, $10,000 to Freedom Born Fund, $10,000 to Club for Growth Action and $5,000 to Fund for Freedom.

  • AFL-CIO

    The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of unions, contributed $2.3 million to super PACs. The federation, boasting 12.2 million members, is made up of 57 national and international labor unions. Its funds come from the dues paid by members.

    The AFL-CIO gave $2.2 million to its own super PAC, and that super PAC gave $100,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.

  • William Dore

    William Dore, the Louisiana energy executive, gave $2.25 million to Red White and Blue Fund (supporting Santorum). This was the biggest foray into political giving by Dore, who has previously cut large checks for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Republican Governors Association. He is estimated to be worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Credit: a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_KzFkneorU” target=”_hplink”YouTube/a

  • Amy Goldman

    Amy Goldman, the author and activist who has been called “perhaps the world’s premier vegetable gardener,” contributed $2.25 million to super PACs. Goldman is the heiress to the fortune of New York real estate titan Sol Goldman.

    Goldman gave $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $1 million to Planned Parenthood Votes, the super PAC for the family planning services provider, and $250,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.

  • Dealer Computer Services, CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties, Waterbury Properties (Bob Brockman)

    Four companies — Dealer Computer Services, CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties and Waterbury Properties — sharing the same address as The Reynolds Reynolds Company headed by Bob Brockman, have given $2.25 million to super PACs.

    CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties and Waterbury Properties combined to give $1 million to Restore Our Future and another $1 million to American Crossroads. Dealer Computer Services has given $200,000 to the pro-David Dewhurst Texas Conservatives Fund and $50,000 to Restoring Prosperity Fund.

  • American Federation Of State, County And Municipal Employees

    The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the nation’s largest public employee union with 1.6 million members, contributed $2.239 million to super PACs. AFSCME is very politically active in local and national politics. In 2011, it faced direct attacks in such states as Ohio and Wisconsin, when Republican governors sought to curtail collective bargaining rights for public employees.

    AFSCME gave $575,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, $500,000 to the AFL-CIO Workers’ Voices PAC, $500,000 to Majority PAC, $315,000 to House Majority PAC $200,000 to Working Families For Hawaii (supporting Mazie Hirono), $100,000 to Committee to Elect An Effective Valley Congressman (supporting Howard Berman), $25,000 to Women Vote! and $24,900 to Working For Us PAC.

  • Jon Huntsman Sr.

    Jon Huntsman Sr., the billionaire Utah industrialist, contributed $2.22 million to a super PAC supporting the presidential candidacy of his son, Jon Huntsman Jr. Huntsman Sr. has given away much of his fortune in recent years and is estimated to be worth slightly north of $1 billion.

    Huntsman’s contributions to Our Destiny, the super PAC backing his son in the Republican primary contest, came under scrutiny based on the laws banning coordination between super PACs and campaigns.

  • Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, has given gave $2.125 million to super PACs. Katzenberg’s net worth is estimated to be above $800 million.

    His biggest contribution was a $2 million gift to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Barack Obama’s reelection bid. Katzenberg has also given $100,000 to Majority PAC and $25,000 to Committee to Elect An Effective Valley Congressman, the super PAC supporting Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a staunch ally of Hollywood.

    Katzenberg is also a major fundraiser for the Obama reelection campaign, having brought in more than $500,000.

  • Paul Singer

    Paul Singer (pictured far right), the hedge fund titan in charge of Elliot Associates, contributed $2.123 million to super PACs through June 2012. Singer has an estimated worth of $900 million.

    He has given $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $1.123 million to American Unity, a super PAC meant to support pro-gay marriage Republican candidates for office.

  • Irwin Jacobs

    Irwin Jacobs, a founder of Qualcomm, has contributed $2.1 million to super PACs. Jacobs is worth $1.15 billion and ranks 372nd on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans.

    Jacobs has given $2 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama) and $100,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.

  • Kenneth And Anne Griffin

    Kenneth Griffin, the head of the massive hedge fund Citadel, has contributed $2.08 million to super PACs. Griffin is ranked 173rd on the emForbes/em list of richest Americans.

    In 2008, he helped raise money for then-Sen. Barack Obama during the Democratic primary, but switched to support Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the general election. Griffin has since become increasingly critical of President Obama and what he considers to be class warfare rhetoric coming from the White House. He stated that the wealthy have “a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/11/ken-griffin-mitt-romney_n_1337721.html” target=”_hplink”insufficient influence/a” in politics and urged the rich to donate to political efforts to preserve their position atop the food chain.

    Griffin has given $1.05 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney) and $1 million to American Crossroads. His wife, Anne, gave $30,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability.

  • FreedomWorks

    FreedomWorks, the conservative nonprofit organization, contributed $2.02 million to its super PAC, FreedomWorks for America. The group is run by former Rep. Dick Armey and was instrumental in organizing the original Tea Party protests in 2009.

    The super PAC has been active in Republican Senate primaries backing Richard Mourdock’s successful campaign to beat Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana. The group also also thrown its weight behind Ted Cruz in Texas and Don Stenberg in Nebraska. Stenberg lost his primary to state Sen. Deb Fischer and Cruz faces a run-off election against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The group is also spending money to defeat Sen. Orrin Hatch in Utah.

  • James Simons

    James Simons, the billionaire chairman of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, gave $2 million to super PACs. Simons is ranked 30 on the emForbes/em list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $10.5 billion.

    Simons gave $1.5 million to Majority PAC, a super PAC that backs Democratic Senate candidates, and $500,000 to House Majority PAC, backing Democratic House candidates.

  • American Federation Of Teachers

    The American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest union in the nation with 1.5 million members, gave $1.85 million to super PACs. After nearly doubled its giving in March with $600,000 in contributions to super PACs the super PAC gave another $300,000 in April and added another $250,000 in May.

    The union donated $1 million to the AFL-CIO Workers’ Voices PAC, $300,000 to House Majority PAC, $300,000 to Majority PAC, and $250,000 to DGA Action.

  • Steve Amber Mostyn

    Steve and Amber Mostyn have contributed $1.828 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Steve, a multi-millionaire trial lawyer in Houston, Texas, and the president of the Texas Trial Lawyer Association, is a long-time donor to Democratic Party causes in both Texas and nationally. In May, the couple gave big by pumping $1.5 million into two Democratic super PACs.

    The Mostyns gave $1,003,850 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $500,000 to House Majority PAC, Planned Parenthood Votes $200,000 and $125,000 to Texans for America’s Future, a super PAC that opposed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential bid.

  • National Association of Realtors

    The National Association of Realtors, the primary trade association for realtors, has contributed $1.81 million to its own super PAC in the 2012 election cycle. The group has long been a player in congressional elections and has already spent significant amounts to help Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) hold his newly redistricted seat in the 2012 elections.

  • Warren Stephens, Stephens Investment Holding Stephens Inc.

    Warren Stephens, the head of Stephens, Inc., has contributed $1.75 million to super PACs. Stephens is tied for the position of 130th richest American, according to Forbes.

    Stephens has given $1.25 million to American Crossroads and $500,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney).

    (Pictured: Stephens, right, with President George W. Bush.)

  • Communications Workers Of America

    The Communications Workers of America, the largest telecommunications union in the world with a membership above 700,000, contributed $1.68 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle.

    The union donated $1.15 million to the Communications Workers of America super PAC, $220,000 to Independent Source, $57,000 to Progressive Kick Independent Expenditures, $50,000 to House Majority PAC and $45,000 to American Worker.

  • National Air Traffic Controllers Association

    The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has given $1.45 million to super PACs during the 2012 election cycle. The union represents 20,000 controllers, engineers and other professionals involved in air traffic control.

    The union gave $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $350,000 to Majority PAC and $100,000 to the AFL-CIO Workers’ Voices PAC.

  • The Morses, The Villages Other Companies

    H. Gary Morse, his wife, their children, the retirement community they operate, The Villages, and a number of subsidiary companies have combined to contribute $1.552 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney) in the 2012 election cycle.

    H. Gary Morse is part of Romney’s Florida finance team and has hosted fundraisers for the former Massachusetts governor. The family’s super PAC giving has all gone to support Romney’s bid.

    Through June and July, a series of subsidiary companies controlled by The Villages and H. Gary Morse contributed $600,000 to Restore Our Future.

  • Republican Governors Association

    The Republican Governors Association, a 527 political committee currently headed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, gave $1.58 million to the super PAC RGA Ohio PAC.

  • Jon Stryker

    Jon Stryker, an architect and heir to the Stryker Corporation fortune, has contributed $1.5 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Barack Obama.

    Stryker is worth $1.1 billion and ranks 375th on the Fortune 400 richest Americans list. He is a noted GLBT activist having donated money to groups including the Gay Lesbian Victory Fund. Stryker is also the founder of the Arcus Foundation, the largest grant maker for gay and lesbian activism in the nation.

    Stryker has spent big in the past to help elect Democrats and oust Republicans from office in his home state of Michigan.

    (Pictured: President Barack Obama, the candidate supported by Stryker’s contribution.)

  • J. Joseph Ricketts

    J. Joseph Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade and head of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, has given $1.485 million to super PACs. Ricketts ranked 371 on emForbes’/em list of richest Americans in 2009, with a net worth of $1 billion.

    He has donated $885,000 to his own super PAC, Ending Spending Action Fund, which spent all of that money to help Nebraska state Sen. Deb Fischer win the Republican Senate primary in the state. Ricketts has also given $500,000 the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super PAC supporting challengers to incumbent Democrats and Republicans in contested congressional primary elections, and $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney).

    Ricketts a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/joe-ricketts-jeremiah-wright-super-pac-ad_n_1525658.html” target=”_hplink”became the focus of controversy/a in May 2012 after the New York Times revealed that he was considering a proposal to fund, through a super PAC, advertisements attacking President Barack Obama with his relationship with his former pastor, the controversial Jeremiah Wright. After the publicity Ricketts and the consultants involved all stated that they were not going forward with the plan.

  • Weaver Popcorn

    Weaver Popcorn, the Indiana-based popcorn maker owned by Michael Weaver, has contributed $1.4 million to American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Republican operative Karl Rove.

    The company is one of the largest popcorn companies in the United States and is best known for their Pop Weaver brand.

  • Philip Geier

    Philip Geier, the former advertising magnate turned communications and venture capital adviser, contributed $1.35 million to super PACs. Geier previously served as CEO of the Interpublic Group of Companies, a large advertising holding company. He currently helms the Geier Group, which provides consulting services on communications, advertising and venture capital.

    Geier gave $1,000,000 to American Crossroads and $350,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney).

  • Anne Earhart

    Anne Catherine Getty Earhart, the granddaughter of the oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, has given $1.35 million to super PACs. Earhart received $400 million when Texaco purchased Getty Oil in 1986. She is active in environmental issues.

    Earhart gave $600,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, $500,000 to Priorities USA Action (supporting President Obama) and $250,000 to House Majority PAC.

    (Pictured: President Obama, the candidate Earhart’s contributions support.)

  • Donald Sussman

    Donald Sussman, the billionaire hedge fund manager and husband of Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), has given $1.35 million to super PACs. Sussman is the founder of investment firm Paloma Partners.

    Sussman has given $1.15 million to House Majority PAC, $100,000 to Women Vote! and $100,000 to Young Democrats of America.

  • Leo Linbeck

    Leo Linbeck, the Houston construction mogul, has given $1.26 million to the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super PAC opposing both incumbent Democrats and Republicans facing primary challenges.

  • Julian Robertson

    Julian Robertson, the hedge fund titan and founder of Tiger Management, contributed $1.25 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) in the current election cycle. Robertson is ranked 166 on the emForbes/em list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.4 billion.

  • Richard Uihlein

    Richard Uihlein, the son of the founder of the U-Line Corp., contributed $1.185 million to super PACs.

    Uihlein gave $510,000 to Club for Growth Action, $350,000 to FreedomWorks for America, $225,000 to New Prosperity Foundation, $50,000 to USA Super PAC and $50,000 to Liberty Principles PAC.

    (Pictured: The website of FreedomWorks, the biggest recipient of contributions from Uihlein.)

  • George Soros

    George Soros, the noted hedge fund investor and long-time Democratic donor, has contributed $1.175 million to super PACs.

    Soros became famous for his political contributions after he gave more than $30 million to 527 groups to defeat former President George W. Bush in 2004. He has reached a mythological status with some conservatives as a wildly influential figure in world politics.

    Soros has given $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century, $100,000 to Majority PAC and $75,000 to House Majority PAC.

  • Frank VanderSloot Melaleuca Inc.

    Frank VanderSloot and his multi-level marketing company, Melaleuca Inc., have contributed $1.1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney). VanderSloot is a member of the Romney campaign’s financial team and has a checkered history of bullying reporters and newspapers for writing about his business, which has been labeled a pyramid scheme by some, and his political activities. The 2004 emForbes/em list of richest Americans estimated VanderSloot’s net worth to be $700 million.

  • Laborers’ International Union

    The Laborers’ International Union, which represents a half-million construction workers, has given $1.05 million to super PACs.

    The union gave $850,000 to House Majority PAC, $200,000 to Majority PAC and $5,000 to The American Worker.

  • Barbara Stiefel

    Barbara Stiefel, a Florida-based philanthropist and Democratic Party donor, has given $1.05 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama).

    (Pictured: Barack Obama, the candidate supported by Stiefel’s contributions.)

  • The Lindners

    Members of the Lindner family, including Carl H. Lindner III and S. Craig Lindner, have contributed $1.1 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Carl and Craig are co-CEOs of the American Financial Group, a Cincinnati-based finance company.

    Family members have combined to give $600,000 to Restore Our Future, supporting Mitt Romney, and $500,000 to American Crossroads.

Business events and economic reports scheduled for the coming week

Post Contributor Badge

This commenter is a Washington Post contributor. Post contributors aren’t staff, but may write articles or columns. In some cases, contributors are sources or experts quoted in a story.

REALTORS® Stand Up for Housing at Democratic Convention

When Paul Yorkis was young, his mother took him to the Democratic Party headquarters and asked him to stuff envelopes in support of Adlai Stevenson who ran for president twice during the 1950s.

“It was fun and people were happy I was there,” said Yorkis, president of Patriot Real Estate in Medway Mass., a member of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee, a Democratic National Convention delegate, and national chair of the non-NAR affiliated REALTORS® for Obama.

That experience as a child was formative for Yorkis, who continued to explain that politics is deeply rooted in the lives and culture of those living in his home state of Massachusetts. “In Massachusetts, there’s a few sports – the Red Sox, the New England Patriots, the Bruins, the Celtics, and the other sport is politics.”

Yorkis decided to become a delegate representing Massachusetts at the DNC in Charlotte, N.C., last week, because real estate – among other issues – needs to be represented and addressed at the federal level. He knows how important it is to keep housing front and center when talking to lawmakers – especially the accessibility of the American dream of home ownership, as Yorkis himself experienced homelessness for a short time as a child.

“REALTORS® do amazing things. The reason I’m at the convention is because I believe it’s the little stuff that has the ability to impact politics,” Yorkis said.

Yorkis did leave his mark at the DNC. He submitted testimony to the drafting and platform committee of the Democratic National Committee. Part of the platform deals with housing and the last sentence of the approved platform was adapted from Yorkis’s testimony. It states: “The president remains committed to creating an economy that’s built to last, where home ownership is an achievable dream for all Americans.

Yorkis was one of approximately 20 REALTORS® who served as delegates at the DNC this year. This video looks at how members of the National Association of REALTORS® had an impact that the convention and why political involvement – whether it be Republican or Democratic – is vital to the real estate industry.

Successfully renting out your home

The better your house shows to renters, the more rent you can charge. Paint the walls, replace grimy carpeting and restore curb appeal, just as you would when selling the house.

Remove your belongings so the tenant has room for her belongings and yours are not subject to theft or misuse. Remember that well-publicized stash of stuff that Rahm Emanuel left in his house when he rented it? “That was not the norm,” said Townsley. “Usually you get your things out of the house.”

Renters insurance. Instead of homeowners insurance, which covers liability, the property, the house and its contents, you need landlords insurance that does not cover the contents.

“Then, typically, you require the tenant to provide proof that he has renters insurance to cover his belongings,” said Janet Patrick, hotline director at the Illinois Insurance Association. If you plan to rent the house furnished, tell your agent to make sure your furnishings are covered, she said.

To check out insurers, go to illinoisinsurance.org.

Legal avenues. Hire an attorney for your first foray into the land of leases, where legal pitfalls abound, advised John O’Brien, a real estate attorney in Arlington Heights. “You don’t know what you don’t know, so an attorney can make sure you have the right documents,” he said. They include those covered by law, such as lead-based-paint disclosure, and those that cover every landlord-tenant agreement you can imagine, from pets to length of lease.

Sure, you can download many legal forms online. “But they’re not Illinois-specific,” said O’Brien. “And they don’t cover every ‘what if?'”

Set a competitive rate. Before you post your rental price, find out what other landlords in the area are charging. Compare your house to theirs.

“Most homeowners sell themselves short because they don’t know how much houses are renting for now,” said Townsley.

The rental price has nothing to do with your monthly sum of mortgage, taxes and insurance. It has everything to do with the size, location and condition of the house.

“Some homeowners think it’s just about square footage,” said Townsley. “But a well-maintained house that shows well and has high-end finishes will rent for a premium.”

Foreign buyers are staying home

Foreign nationals spent about $82.5 billion in the 12-month period ending in March 2012-up about 24 percent from the $66 billion they spent the year before-but only 9 percent of all residential real estate sales come from international buyers, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors released six months ago.

However, every month since then with the exception of May, NAR reported foreign nationals have purchased only 2 percent of all homes sold, the same level as in most of 2010 when the foreign buyer boomlet began.

In July, the real estate site Trulia reported a decline in the international share of overall online house hunters in the second quarter. From April 1 to June 30 the share of foreign searches on Trulia fell nearly 10 percent year over year in the second quarter, with the fastest appreciating markets seeing the biggest declines in foreign interest.

“Foreigners attracted to real estate bargains get turned off when prices increase,” said Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist.

“Investors want to buy when prices are at their bottom, but they’ll start to lose interest when prices rise 15 percent, as they have in Miami and Phoenix. Demand by people looking to scoop up bargains can dry up quickly when prices rise.”

Six of the 10 metro areas with the highest share of searches from abroad were in Florida — a warm weather state that saw huge price declines during the downturn. Nonetheless, recent price increases in metros like Miami and Cape Coral-Fort Myers mean some of these metros have seen less interest from overseas house hunters in the past year, Trulia said.

However, a new survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that number of international buyers in the Sunshine State is on the decline. From June 2011 to June 2012, 19 percent of Florida home sales went to nonresident foreigners, down from 25 percent in the previous 12 month period.

That’s especially bad news for Florida sellers. International buyers paid a median price of $194,700, higher than the Florida median price of $125,100 and U.S. median price of $167,758, and some 82 percent of foreign sales were all cash.

The largest share of foreign buyers were Canadian, 31 percent, and gravitated toward the lower-priced homes. Both European and Latin American buyers bought homes in the higher price range, according to a study by the Florida Realtors.

5 Fall Housing Pitfalls And How To Avoid Them

NEW YORK (MainStreet) –The real estate market supposedly shines in the spring and summer sun, but fall is where the deals are found.

Existing home sales are up more than 10% since last year, while the price of those homes has risen 9.4% over the same span, according to the National Association of Realtors. Meanwhile, the backlog of homes on the market has dwindled 31% from a more than nine-month supply of 3.15 million last July to a 6.4-month supply of 2.4 million this summer. As a result, the percentage of “distressed” and foreclosed homes on the market dropped from 29% last year to 24% in July.

“Mortgage interest rates have been at record lows this year, while rents have been rising at faster rates,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.”Combined, these factors are helping to unleash a pent-up demand.”

Get alerts before Link and Cramer make every trade

With interest rates on 30-year mortgages dropping from 4.55% last July to 3.55% today, buyers who’ve been riding out the economic downturn and housing crisis might be tempted to make a move. With real estate site Zillow (Z) reporting that 31% of American mortgages are still underwater despite rising prices — including nearly 51% of mortgages held by homeowners ages 30 through 34 — it helps to look before you leap this fall.

With help from the National Association of Realtors and Zillow, we put together the following checklist of items to keep in mind when approaching the autumn real estate market:

1. Go bargain hunting: According to NAR numbers, prices tend to plummet by an average $7,000 once Labor Day passes. That’s not always the case out west or in the south, where prices level off or even jump a bit during the cold months, but Midwest home prices fall by an average of $10,000 between August and September, while Northeast prices plummet by nearly $20,000 by October.

2. Know your market: If you’re hunting around Stowe, Vt., or Coral Springs, Fla., for deals around this time of year, you may as well be pricing out Caribbean vacation homes in winter. Ski resorts, popular leaf-peeping spots and permanently warm climates in Florida and Southern California just aren’t going to come through with fall discounts. Know why folks in less-scenic Northeast and Midwest towns drop prices so quickly? Because winter’s coming and they don’t want to spend another year digging out the place. Use their years of snowbound misery to your advantage.

3. Sniff out desperation: Does the photo of the house you’ve been pining over all summer on MLS look exactly as it did when you first saw it Memorial Day? Has the price dropped without eliciting so much as an “under contract” update? Is there yet another open house coming up in a few weeks? That all works in your favor. If a buyer hasn’t budged after one of the hottest real estate summers since the housing crisis began, chances are there’s room to negotiate. If they want the house sold more than they want a tidy profit, that’s how deals are born.

4. Kick the tires: Fall may be a lovely corridor of copper leaves and crisp temperatures in some areas, but it’s also the time of year the weather takes a turn. When you’re buying a home, the leaf litter and returning rain provide ample opportunities to see where the current homeowners have done work and what they’ve neglected on the way out the door. For the most part, there shouldn’t be leaves piled up in the gutters in late September or early October. There also should be decent gutter drainage that doesn’t involve water spewing from where a drain pipe once was.

5. Remember, you’ll have help: Census Bureau numbers indicate that fall, and September in particular, is a bit of a rough patch for contractors and home and garden stores such as Home Depot (HD) and Lowes (LOW). If your dream house could use a kitchen upgrade or central air through its heating ducts, home stores and builders usually start discounting inventory around this time of year and can help you make changes on the cheap. Of course, if you’re looking to build from scratch, those discounts not only add up, but bring in business for a homebuilding industry that’s grown 25% since last year but is still building less than half than the “normal” number of homes it completes in a year.

— Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.

To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

To order reprints of this article, click here: Reprints

FREE from Real Money’s Jim Cramer: Winners and Losers Election 2012 – Steps to take NOW so you can profit
no matter who is in charge! Get your FREE download now.

Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

Abilene Association of Realtors enters into agreement with Mexican counterparts

The Texas Association of Realtors — which includes the Abilene Association of Realtors — and La Asociacion Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios (AMPI), Mexico’s real estate association, signed a cross-border business building partnership agreement Wednesday.

This new alliance, which is a first in Texas, is expected to lead more business-building partnerships and global business opportunities between real estates agents in both Texas and Mexico.

“I think it’s a great thing,” Jim Kulyas, president of the Abilene Realtors Association, said Thursday. “This allows us to be able to cooperate more with realtors in Mexico. It will help, being a national real estate business.”

In addition, the Abilene association formed its own partnership with AMPI to share information, marketing techniques, educational content and best practices.

Kulyas said the partnership signifies a mutual desire to help members understand and benefit from international real estate opportunities.

“There’s a lot of over the border sales (between Texas and Mexico),” Kulyas said. “It does happen a lot where they might have a buyer come into Texas but not so much commercial.”

Kulyas said Realtors do a lot of secondary market in Mexico, such as Americans buying or leasing vacation homes, condominiums and resort apartments.

“It will be a great benefit just because we can contact a realtor down there who would be able to help us find property for a buyer we have here,” Kulyas said.

There are four universities in Abilene and Kulyas said there may be some international students from Mexico whose parents may be thinking of buying homes in the area either to be close to their sons and daughters or for a place their college-age students can stay for the duration of their education.

With the agreement, “(the parents) can contact a realtor there who will then contact us here,” Kulyas said.

The Texas Association of Realtors has more than 80,000 members all throughout the state.

Its chairman, Joe Stewart, said the partnership “further elevates awareness of international real estate, which will lead to more educational opportunities for our members and more resources for property owners interested in international markets.”

List to sell

Attention: open in a new window.PDFPrintEmail

List to sell

Another indicator being used to test the health of the real estate market is the amount of time needed to sell a home for all listings. In July, the median time a home was listed for sale on the market was 69 days, a decrease of almost 30% when compared to July 2011.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), this median shows a wide range. It shows that one-third of homes purchased in July were on the market for less than a month, while one in five was on the market for a minimum of six months.

In many markets across the country, as the supply of homes decreased, the time on the market for homes to sell also decreased. Although there is more of a balance between the supply and demand of homes, homes that are appropriately priced typically sell faster. Homes that are priced higher, however, are still languishing on the market. Buyers will wait until homes are appropriately priced or will move on.

 

At the end of July there was a 6.4-month supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. This is down 31.2% from 2011 when there was a 9.3-month supply of homes. In the past, when existing-home sales are coupled with about a six-month supply of listed inventory, there has been a median selling time of slightly over six weeks.

According to NAR, in such balanced markets, home prices, typically, increase 1% or 2% above the overall inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

In Greenwich, the real estate market’s reaction to economic downturns lags the country as does its recovery. This explains why home prices have not upwardly adjusted despite a decrease in inventory in certain price points.

Realtors are still reporting that homes appropriately priced are receiving multiple offers, but these offers are close to ask and not significantly more than ask. Preferred terms and conditions remain the key basis for acceptance by a seller in multiple-offer situations. Understandably, an offer without a mortgage contingency or any other contingency would be more acceptable to a seller.

According to the chief economist of NAR, Lawrence Yun, the national median existing home price is expected to increase in the range of 4.5 to 5% this year and is projected to increase 5% next year. This is based on the limited inventory, especially, in the lower price ranges.

The indicator of days-on-market takes into account short sales that can take three months or more to sell. In the past, distressed sales were excluded. According to NAR, if these sales were excluded, the median time on the market for “traditional” sellers would be between six and seven weeks.

In the recent economic downturn, time on the market for traditional sellers reached 10 weeks in 2009 with a 10-month annualized supply. The median price dropped almost 13% in 2009, which is the largest annual decrease in history.

 

Mary Ann Clark is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker at 177 West Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be e-mailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or reach her directly at 203-249-2244.


Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
 

Commenting is reserved for registered users.

Log in or register a new account.

Navigating the risks of New York City real estate market

By Kevin Kerridge, Hiscox Small Business Insurance

KEVIN KERRIDGE

The real estate market in much of the country has seen a rollercoaster of ups and downs following the collapse of the housing bubble, due in part to unstable housing prices and financing issues.

New York City, however, is a unique market that has been largely immune to the real estate and financial crises, maintaining high rental prices and increasing purchase demands.

These factors may make Manhattan — and New York City’s outlying boroughs seem like a mecca for real estate agents.

However, this market presents its own unique challenges for agents, including both logistical and legal issues.

In such a large market, there are nuances that many realtors are unaware of.

For example, small real estate firms and independent agents based in the New York City metro area, unlike those who work for large firms, are not required to carry insurance.

Still, these independent brokers face a myriad of industry and location-specific risks that could pose dangers to agents and their businesses.

Many of these risks outlined below, however, can be potentially mitigated through a professional liability insurance policy.

• Increasing Brokers Fees: New York City maintains some of the nation’s highest real estate broker fees, corresponding to the price of real estate within the metro area.

Generally, brokers’ fees range from 10%-15% of the sale or yearly rental price of a property.

That means that if a tenant rents an apartment in midtown Manhattan for $2,500 (the average price of a one-bedroom apartment, according to New York Habitat), they will pay a broker fee of $4,500.

The National Association of Realtors 2011 Legal Scan, a biennial study, stated that disputes over commission payments are only expected to increase in the future.

• Negligence Lawsuits: Given the current economic conditions, clients often have less hesitation in pursuing legal action when they feel slighted by an agent, often claiming “negligent misrepresentation.”

The National Association of Realtors study also stated that clients are more likely to file claims over property condition disclosures in the current economy a fact that is not expected to improve in the near future.

• Lack of Qualifying Clients: According to online real estate website Trulia, the median sales price for homes in the New York Metro area between March 2012 and May 2012 was $1.09 million.

This represents an increase of 2.7% or $29,155 compared to the prior quarter, and an increase of 1% compared to the prior year. Sales prices have appreciated 9.1% over the last five years in New York.                                     But, home prices are not the only number on the rise.

Although unemployment rates are improving, approximately 10,863 individuals filed for bankruptcy in New York State (according to¸ creditcards.com’s online bankruptcy statistics), representing only a -.25% change since 2005.

With the ability to secure a home loan still difficult and the stringent credit restrictions most landlords place on renters, the lack of qualified clients is increasingly becoming an issue for many real estate agents.

• Increases in regulation regarding discrimination: An increasingly diverse population, a lack of qualified clients and the low percentage of vacant units in the city are all pushing some potential residential applicants to pursue legal action if they believe they’ve been subjected to discrimination.

The New York City Council on Human Rights recently issued a statement saying that it is illegal to advertise or make any inquiry regarding the prospective purchase, rental or lease of a housing accommodation that is discriminatory.

In addition, according to New York Civil Rights Law, it is unlawful for landlords, superintendents, building managers, condo owners, cooperative owners and boards to discriminate in the sale, rental or lease of housing.

Even the slightest slip of the tongue could land an agent in hot water or even worse, facing a lawsuit — or a proceeding that could ultimately end up in the suspension of an agent’s real estate license.

With these potential dangers lurking in the NYC real estate landscape, agents and real estate firms of any size can easily protect themselves and their businesses with business insurance coverage tailored to their specific needs.

Insurers have begun to offer affordable policies that cover the special risks faced by the real estate industry and include defense costs and other services, even if a covered claim brought against an agent is groundless.

If the agent or broker is found to be at fault for the claim, the insurer will pay damages, up to the limits of the policy.

It is important for real estate professionals to make certain that their insurance coverage is specific to their industry and that their policy addresses the unique risks that they face, such as giving incorrect advice, omitting or failing to disclose material information or failing to deliver services in some way.

Professional liability and general liability policies are at the foundation of any insurance program for real estate professionals.

Professional liability, often called errors and omissions (EO), covers risks incurred in carrying out one’s professional role and responsibilities.

Coverage may include claims for alleged or actual negligence, defense costs, personal injury, such as libel or slander and claims arising from services done by employees, temporary staff and independent contractors.

General liability insurance, also called commercial general liability insurance, covers third-party claims for bodily injury, associated medical costs and damage to someone else’s property.

Although professional liability and general liability insurance are not a guarantee against potential dangers, they do provide peace of mind that real estate professionals are protected from common risks. Insurance that is tailored to the real estate industry can help avoid ruinous claims and lawsuits, allowing agents to keep up with the fast-paced, ever moving New York City real estate market, as well as focus on what really matters: running a successful business.

* This article does not offer legal, tax, or insurance advice related to the needs of any specific business. Please consult your professional advisor.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...