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As the current political climate fluctuates, real estate professionals wonder how the next election will impact housing. Experts weigh in in the following Power Broker Roundtable.

Moderator:
J. Nicholas (Nick) D’Ambrosia, Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR; Broker of Record, The Long & Foster Companies, Chantilly, Va.

Panelists:
Scott Louser
, Broker/Owner, NextHome Legendary Properties, Minot, N. Dakota
Charles Oppler, Broker/Owner, Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Real Estate, Tenafly, NJ.
Candace Adams, Pres/CEO, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services New England Properties, Wallingford, Conn.

Nick D’Ambrosia: As real estate professionals, we need to examine what kind of potential impact could the 2016 election have on our industry? We are talking today with three articulate and well-informed real estate veterans, one of whom—as an aside to his real estate business—is an elected official in his state. Scott, what elected position do you hold, and how does that affect your overall take on what this election may mean for real estate?

Scott Louser: I currently serve as majority caucus leader in North Dakota’s House of Representatives, and I have served as NAR’s Liaison for Government Affairs, so I guess I do have some insider perspective—at least about how government works. But my take is that no matter who becomes our next president, we need to focus our attention on the real estate issues facing Congress. From flood programs to interest rates to the government-backed secondary mortgage market—even 1031 exchanges on investments—these are the kinds of issues that matter to consumers and will ultimately impact the real estate market.

Charlie Oppler: I’d have to agree. As company leaders, we tend to get too much credit when things are going well, and too much criticism when they’re not. So it’s not so much about who wins the presidency, it’s about where laws actually get made, both at local and federal levels. Electing officials who we know are recognized champions of real estate—like Scott, for example, or like REALTOR® and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia—is really the best insurance we have that real estate interests will be served.

Candace Adams: Yes, and a key takeaway, once the emotion of the election is behind us, is the fundamental state of the economy. Consumer confidence last month was at its highest level in nearly a year, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, homeownership rates are declining—and Connecticut is among the most depressed markets. I’m happy to say we’re doing all right at the moment, especially at the lower end. The luxury market is still soft, but more first-time buyers—as well as downsizers and investors—are finally dipping a toe into the market. Affordability and continued low interest rates—not to mention preserving the mortgage interest deduction—are the issues that Congress will need to focus on if we’re going to move forward.

ND’A: So what kind of year do we expect to have in 2017?

SL: I think we’re going to see another good year, but preserving low interest rates is critical. A one percent uptick in the mortgage rate can affect a buyer’s ability to borrow by as much as 10 percent. We need to keep the focus on Congress to be sure the momentum is maintained.

CO: There are always variables in terms of the economy. People are still cautious about jobs in some areas, and too many millennials are still renting in the city and holding off on buying homes. But I do think rates will stay at historic lows, and that we’re looking at another good year ahead.

CA: Lending guidelines have loosened a bit, but we need to see an increase in supply, and I think that will happen as homebuilders gain confidence, especially at the lower price points. In our company, we’re up 15 percent at the low end, and anything we can do to encourage new construction is bound to be a boon to the market—especially once the anxiety of the election is over and we can all move on with our lives.

CO: I can tell you one thing; when it comes to the issues that can impact real estate, I’m glad we have NAR advocacy. They’re the watchdogs. Their eyes are on Congress, and will stay on Congress, no matter how the election turns out.

ND’A: It’s the reason we feel good putting our money behind RPAC.  In the end, it’s not about the political parties. It’s about supporting the candidates who support the issues that keep the real estate market healthy.

For more information, visit www.realtor.org.

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