November 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017
2018 Legislative Priorities
To view/download a copy of the 2018 document, click here

Kentucky REALTORS® released its 2018 Legislative Priorities detailing the legislative initiatives of the real estate and small business community for the upcoming session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Kentucky REALTORS® (KYR) knows that homeownership has positive impacts on neighborhoods, communities, and the overall vibrancy of the Kentucky economy. KYR advocates for policies that increase access to the American Dream of homeownership by promoting growth, attracting new jobs and talent, and encouraging positive community development.

The legislative priorities for KYR are crafted through a multi-step process that begins with its over 10,000 members. A survey is sent out to the full membership to determine which issues matter most, with those issues analyzed by the Governmental Affairs Committee. The Committee takes into account the survey responses and any carryover issues from previous legislative sessions and crafts an agenda, which is then approved by the Board of Directors and the Delegate Body.

“There are several tough issues that need attention in this state,” said 2017 KYR President Mike Becker. “As we move closer to the session, tax reform and pension reform are looming on the horizon and both could have extreme impacts on the economy and, ultimately, the real estate industry. We are pushing for responsible changes that do not place a disproportionate burden on the backs of homeowners and the middle-class and also looking out for other matters that could have the same effect.”

Specifically, KYR’s interests fall into the following categories:

  • Enacting Tax Reform
    • Protecting the mortgage interest deduction and property tax deduction
    • Opposing sales tax on services
    • Creating a first-time homebuyer savings account program
  • Protecting and Advancing the Real Estate Industry
    • Eliminating regulations that burden small businesses and independent contractors
    • Engaging in the continued implementation of HB 443 (2017 RS), which reorganized the Kentucky Real Estate Authority
    • Working with the administration and legislators to ensure the highest level of consumer protection, educational standards, and professionalism among licensees
  • Driving Growth and Economic Prosperity
    • Promoting economic development initiatives that bring new jobs to Kentucky
    • Supporting meaningful pension reform that sustains funding for the critical areas of state government involved in attracting new investments and growing our economy
    • Promoting workforce development programs that bring Kentuckians back into the job market and provide the opportunity to put down stable roots in the housing market
  • Stimulating Community Development
    • Allowing localities the flexibility to generate funding for public infrastructure
    • Supporting expanded and improved access to fast and reliable internet service across the Commonwealth
    • Building strong and healthy communities by supporting initiatives to combat the opioid abuse epidemic
       

Kentucky REALTORS® is one of the largest and most influential associations in Kentucky. Founded in 1922, Kentucky REALTORS® represents more than 10,800 REALTORS® who are involved in all aspects of real estate, including residential and commercial real estate brokers, sales agents, developers, builders, property managers, office managers, appraisers and auctioneers.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Unemployment rates fell in 88 Kentucky counties, stayed the same in 10 and rose in 22 counties between October 2016 and October 2017, according to the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Woodford County recorded the lowest jobless rate in the commonwealth at 2.9 percent. It was followed by Oldham County, 3.1 percent; Fayette County, 3.2 percent; Jessamine and Scott counties, 3.3 percent each; Campbell, Monroe and Shelby counties, 3.4 percent each; and Boone, Kenton, Marion, Spencer, Todd and Washington counties, 3.5 percent each.

Magoffin County recorded the state’s highest unemployment rate at 12.7 percent. It was followed by Leslie County, 8.7 percent; Harlan County, 8.5 percent; Jackson County, 7.9 percent; Letcher County, 7.7 percent; Elliott County, 7.6 percent; Lawrence County, 7.5 percent; Wolfe County, 7.4 percent; and Clay and Lee counties, 7.3 percent each.

Kentucky’s county unemployment rates and employment levels are not seasonally adjusted because of small sample sizes. Employment statistics undergo sharp fluctuations due to seasonal events such as weather changes, harvests, holidays and school openings and closings. Seasonal adjustments eliminate these influences and make it easier to observe statistical trends. The comparable, unadjusted unemployment rate for the state was 4.3 percent for October 2017, and 3.9 percent for the nation.

Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working. Civilian labor force statistics include non-military workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are actively seeking work. They do not include unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks. The data should only be compared to the same month in previous years.

Learn more about Kentucky labor market information at https://kcews.ky.gov/KYLMI.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

by Michael Becker, President – Kentucky REALTORS®

 

Tax reform proposals from both the House and Senate make sweeping changes to the tax benefits that homeowners have enjoyed for years. Unfortunately, if the current federal tax proposals stay as they are, this is likely to change. Here’s why:

Roughly 1.2 million Kentucky residents own their own home, and over 381,000 (roughly 32 percent) claimed a deduction for mortgage interest (MID).  If the federal plan doubles the standard deduction and removes most of the exemptions available, however, many fewer homeowners would itemize their taxes, essentially taking the MID and other off the table. But wait, there’s more….

Homeowners are currently allowed to deduct the taxes they pay to state and local governments, but that deduction is on the chopping block. Also slated for elimination are deductions for moving expenses, home equity loans, property taxes (capped in House version), student loans (House version) and more. In addition, even though the standard deduction is raised, the personal exemptions are eliminated altogether in both proposals, meaning families are losing out even more - especially if they also own a home.

By example, a family of four, making a combined income of $75,000 a year, and owning a home valued at $250K, could end up with a higher tax obligation, potentially more than $2,000 depending on a variety of factors relating to deductions and exemptions, if either of these proposals were to become law.

Kentucky REALTORS® understand that while some individuals may see a tax decrease under these proposals, estimates suggest that many middle-class homeowners, the very group that was promised good news with this reform, could in fact see a net average tax increase. In fact, according to the study: “Impact of Tax Reform Options on Owner-Occupied Housing” by PwC, homeowners with adjusted gross incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 would see their taxes rise by an average of $815. In addition to the direct financial impact of these tax reform proposals, homeownership is dis-incentivized and home values could be negatively impacted by up to 10% - as much as $10k - $20K on average depending on the area of Kentucky in which the homeowner lives.

Corporate tax cuts may be helpful in the worthy goal of improving the economy and driving job growth, but homeowners may be saddled with negative ramifications.  Meanwhile, their children and grandchildren will be asked to bear the burden of $1.5 trillion being added to the deficit.

Tax reform is vitally important, but the final product should reflect the tremendous value that homeownership offers all of Kentucky’s communities. If you own a home, or aspire to someday, you’d be wise to examine how this affects you and then let your representative know where you stand.

 

Kentucky REALTORS® is one of the largest and most influential associations in Kentucky. Founded in 1922, Kentucky REALTORS® represents more than 10,800 REALTORS® who are involved in all aspects of real estate, including residential and commercial real estate brokers, sales agents, developers, builders, property managers, office managers, appraisers and auctioneers.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The legislative proposals for tax reform passed by the House Ways and Means Committee and the new Senate plan released last week include some sweeping changes to the tax benefits that homeowners have come to depend on. According to Kentucky REALTORS® (KYR) and the National Association of REALTORS®, the bills are a direct threat to consumers, homeowners and businesses, as they represent a tax increase on middle-class homeowners.

In addition to millions of homeowners not benefitting from either of the proposals, many will get a tax increase that will average $815 for middle-class homeowners. Additionally, homeowners could lose substantial equity from the more than 10% drop in home values predicted by economists if either of the bills are enacted.

KYR believes in the promise of lower tax rates, but these bills are not as good a deal as the one middle-class homeowners get under current law. Tax hikes and falling home prices are a one-two punch that homeowners must absorb, and at a time when the housing market is stable and providing a boost to the economy.

“We have always said that tax reform – a worthy endeavor – should first do no harm to homeowners. This tax framework misses that goal,” said Mike Becker, president of Kentucky REALTORS®. “These proposals recommend a backdoor elimination of the mortgage interest deduction (MID) for all but the top 5 percent who would still itemize their deductions in addition to losing many other important benefits afforded to homeowners.”

The pieces of legislation double the standard deduction, while repealing nearly all itemized deductions. The House bill, however, goes even further by capping the mortgage interest deduction at $500,000 for newly purchased homes and eliminates it altogether for second homes, which could negatively affect home sales around Kentucky’s lake and river regions where consumers typically make those purchases. The Senate bill completely eliminates the deductions for property taxes even though it doesn’t lower the cap on the MID.

Both bills eliminate state and local income or sales tax deductions while at the same time putting new restrictions on the capital gains exemption homeowners utilize today when they sell their home. The bills would require homeowners to live in their home for 5 of 8 years before a sale to qualify for the exemption, versus just 2 of the previous 5 years today. This could create a hardship for homeowners who have to move inside that five-year window like members of the military who have turnarounds in as little as 3 years. The exemption is also vital to allowing homeowners to use their equity to pay for retirement and other long-term needs.

In addition, the bills eliminate many other real estate-related benefits, including the deduction for moving expenses, the deduction on interest on student loans (House version), the deduction for medical expenses (House version) - even for the elderly and the deduction for personal casualty losses, such as from hurricanes or wildfires.

Currently, America's homeownership rate hovers near the 50-year low at 63.9%. For many middle-class families, buying a home is the single largest investment they will ever make. In fact, the average net worth of a homeowner is 45 times that of a renter. By eliminating or nullifying the incentive for homeownership, however, KYR and REALTORS® across the state are concerned that homeownership's wealth-building potential could be pushed out of reach.

"All in all, both bills not only represent a tax increase on millions of middle-class homeowners, but at the same time, create a lost incentive to purchase a home which could cause home values to fall,” said Becker. “Plummeting home values are a poor housewarming gift for recent homebuyers and a tremendous blow to older Americans who depend on their home to provide a nest egg for retirement. We are pushing for sensible reform that will provide a win for American families by promoting lower rates and comprehensive reform that doesn’t single out homeowners for a tax hike, while also preserving important investment incentives.”

When all the changes included in the latest tax reform proposals are totaled, millions of middle class homeowners will see little benefit, while others will actually see a tax increase. All of this is being placed on the backs of middle class homeowners, while their children and grandchildren are asked to take on an additional $1.5 trillion to the deficit. Tax reform is important, but the final product should reflect the tremendous value that homeownership offers the community.

In summary,

  • If you are a seller: You might not be able to exempt your capital gains when you sell.
  • If you are a buyer: You might not be able to deduct your mortgage interest on your new home and you can’t deduct your moving expenses.
  • If you are a homeowner: You might not be able to deduct any of your property taxes.
  • If you are a second homeowner: You may not be able to deduct your mortgage interest.
  • If you are a REALTOR®: Homebuyers are losing incentives to buy a home, and homeowners have lots of incentives to stay put to keep their full mortgage interest tax deduction and to wait out the exemption for their capital gains.


Tax reform fact sheet - see how the two versions stack up for homeownership