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Charity Deduction Faces Same Tax Reform Risk as MID

Of all the itemized deductions, the one for charitable contributions might seem to come out the best under tax reform. That’s because it’s the only deduction under both the House and the Senate versions of the bill that is largely undiminished. And yet charities complain donations will dry up under tax reform. What gives?

b“Provisions in the tax bill the House and Senate are considering would make the situation worse” for charities, Ray Madoff, director of the Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good, says in a Nov. 27 New York Times opinion piece.

The problem, Madoff says, is the near doubling of the standard deduction. With all of the other itemized deductions either going away or constrained by new caps, most households will opt for the standard deduction rather than continue to itemize. That renders the tax deduction for charitable giving nearly meaningless. As Madoff puts it, “A vast majority of American taxpayers would no longer itemize and therefore would receive no benefits for their charitable giving.”

That argument might sound familiar. It’s the same one NAR is making about homeownership. Under the Senate bill, the mortgage interest deduction would be left intact, but the deduction for state and local taxes would go away. In the House, MID would be limited to mortgages of $500,000 and the deductions for property taxes would be capped at $10,000, while the deduction for state and local income and sales taxes would be entirely repealed. So, while MID is preserved, either entirely or in part, very few households that itemize today would continue to do so. As a result, MID would continue to be a benefit only for the wealthiest households.

Given the structural changes to the tax code lawmakers have before them, preserving the deduction for charitable contributions is mostly meaningless. This is exactly the same thing REALTORS® are saying about tax incentives for homeownership. They’re meaningless for most households if tax reform passes in its current form in both the House and the Senate.

More on tax reform’s impact on homeowners in The Voice for Real Estate.

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Don’t Just Sell a Home; Market a Lifestyle

Kevin Tengan told attendees at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo to remember that home buyers are looking for "a place for their life to happen."

Kevin Tengan told attendees at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo to remember that home buyers are looking for “a place for their life to happen.”

To help your listing stand out from the competition, focus on the lifestyle the property will help buyers achieve, in addition to common details such as square footage and number of bedrooms.

That’s the advice of visual effects specialist Kevin Tengan, who has turned his experience working on Hollywood productions into the foundation for a real estate business that reflects his love for imagery and storytelling. A buyer might say they want a four-bedroom, three-bath house with a sunny kitchen and a backyard, but what they’re really looking for is “a place for their life to happen,” he said during a session at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Chicago earlier this month.

“A lot of what we communicate is ‘what’ and ‘how,’ but few talk about ‘why,’” said Tengan, CRS, chief operating officer of RE/MAX Prestige in Honolulu. “Start with the why.”

As you develop marketing campaigns, remember that saying a home is in a great neighborhood isn’t as powerful as showing why that is the case, said Tengan. For example, if you produce a video property tour, include footage of nearby attractions such as beaches, museums, shopping districts, and other aspects of a community that can inspire a buyer to want to live in the area—not just in the home. Anything you can do to tie your listing to the lifestyle buyers want will attract more traffic, Tengan said.

One of the keys to developing marketing materials that will resonate with buyers looking for a certain lifestyle is understanding the trends that characterize the people you are trying to reach, said Emily Line, vice president of commercial services for Realtors Property Resource®. As a real estate professional, you have access to an enormous amount of data about what consumers are looking for. There are services that can sift through the information and create reports to help you develop an effective pitch, Line said.

The data can help you tune in to trends that reflect the kind of buyers you want to reach. You can identify people in certain kinds of occupations, where they like to shop, and what they like to do for entertainment, Line said. This information can help you connect with buyers in your area, as well as investors who want to purchase commercial or residential properties that will attract certain types of tenants, she said.

Turn the information you collect into a marketing tool by incorporating it into a story that connects the property to the goals and lifestyle of those who would buy it, Tengan said. “At the end of the day, the story is all that matters. A great story evokes a reaction.”

‘This is Our Moment. Own it.’

“Are you ready to own it with me?”  asked Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation REALTOR® and the sixth woman to become president of the National Association of REALTORS® in the past 110 years. “We absolutely have the power to make a difference.”

Mendenhall was sworn into office by her father Richard Mendenhall, who was 2001 NAR president. “There is nothing more powerful in this journey than sharing it with others,” she said addressing thousands of REALTORS® at the Inaugural gala during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Chicago.

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Mendenhall ended her inaugural festivities with a group rendition of “REALTORS® Own It”—the vibrant tune that she co-wrote for her presidency. The song evokes the pride and power embodied in dedicated real estate pros who strive each day to meet the complex needs of their clients and keep the industry strong.

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Testimonials Page

Heather Moser is an excellent realtor to work with! My husband and I have had the pleasure of working with her since last winter. She patiently showed us several homes in Tellico Villages and answered all of our questions promptly and politely. When we finally found the right house, Heather was even more helpful. She assured us that she would help us each step of the way, for suddenly, it all felt a bit overwhelming! We were in NC and were moving to Tennessee, so she took pictures weekly and provided all the updates for us. The house we had found was being built, so she helped us stay in touch with the builder. Paperwork was efficiently handled and communication with Heather was extremely helpful. She protected our interests and made sure that everything was being done properly. She arranged the closing and made sure that we were aware of all the necessary information and details. It gave us great peace of mind to know she was managing things efficiently and competently. Things would not have gone as smoothly without Heather! We could not have asked for a better agent to work with for any real estate transaction. She went way beyond her official responsibilities, and is truly an exceptional member of her profession! It was a pleasure working with her! The Connolly Family, TN
My wife and I felt we had been very misled by the old sales team in Rarity Bay and were looking for a "Fresh Start" It was amazing how many more homes were actually available other than the "Developer owned" properties. On The Lake showed us not just Rarity Bay but ALL of the other lake communities and although we ended up back in Rarity Bay, we felt we had made a decision based on non biased opinions on what we should see.
After Listing our home with numerous Real Estate firms, We listed with your firm. We were put off at first at your many suggestions to make our home more attractive to buyers, but the End result was a quick sale and we soon realized that your company was the "Professional" we needed.
In all our dealings with Realtors over the past ten years, we have never met anyone as helpful and energetic as you have been. Without hesitation, we would highly recommend your service to anyone who is looking for an experienced Realtor who cares about getting things done and doing them right! Thanks for taking such good care of us, we couldn't have done it without you!
Thank you so much for taking the extra effort to make our first home purchase successful. You were there guiding us through all the crucial and important steps! You really listened to what we wanted in our home and you found exactly what we were looking for - at an amazing price! If we ever outgrow this home, we'll definitely be calling you!
Thanks for all your help in making our "dream home" a reality. We really appreciated that you went the extra mile to get us the best price for our home. You are truly a professional.
You made buying a home so easy for my wife and I. We were grateful for how much patience you used in answering all of our questions and taking us to look at so many houses. You never pushed us into looking at something we were not interested in. We strongly recommend you to anyone looking at buying a new home.
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On The Lake Realty License #00257334
100 Rarity Bay Parkway
Vonore, TN 37885 
Principle Broker Karen Millikan
License # 00278019
Toll Free: 1-800-884-2260
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