Holidays aren’t the only time to protect freedoms

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Professional headshot of Mark Lehman

07/05/2016 | Author: Mark Lehman

In Lehman’s Terms

My social media accounts were on fire leading up to July 4 with people sharing messages honoring Independence Day.

You probably saw it, too: hundreds of Facebook posts and tweets from parades, picnics, and fireworks displays, alongside inspirational messages quoting our founding fathers, public servants, and the average guy next door. 

Some of my favorites posts were videos of patriotic songs ranging from radio star Kate Smith singing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” to a phenomenal mariachi band performing “The Star Spangled Banner” before a Major League Baseball game.

Could anything be more American?

Occasions like this serve to remind us that while our freedoms are extensive, we should never take them for granted—especially the freedom we refer to as the American Dream of homeownership.

More than 60% of Americans own their homes, according to the Census Bureau. But this dream is under attack every day at almost every level and branch of government. I believe it’s our responsibility to make sure this freedom is not compromised.

On the national level, for example, an intense public outcry in 2011 forced lawmakers to stop an effort to require prospective homebuyers to make a 20% downpayment when purchasing a home—that would’ve meant $40,000 up front for someone purchasing a modest $200,000 home. This arbitrary action would have placed the American Dream out of reach for many first-time and low-income homebuyers.  

At the state level, Texas voters went to the polls in November and overwhelmingly approved changing the state constitution to permanently ban real estate transfer taxes. Other states see how costly these taxes can be for prospective homebuyers—Texas wanted to avoid that possibility altogether.

And right now, pro-property rights groups like the Texas Association of REALTORS® are gearing up for the next session of the Texas Legislature by promoting legislation that will add more transparency to the property tax process. The goal is to ensure that people won’t be forced to sell their homes to afford the taxes on their property. Visit thehiddenpropertytax.com to learn more about this important issue.

It even continues at the local level, as many governmental entities constantly attempt to compromise homeowners’ rights by imposing self-serving eminent domain and selective annexation policies or increasing property taxes to feed an often bloated and wasteful local bureaucracy. Many of these efforts go unnoticed by homeowners because of misleading and confusing tax policies.

In Lehman’s terms, we need to remain vigilant to ensure the freedoms we enjoy remain in place.

July 4th is a wonderful time to focus on these unique and cherished freedoms. But it’s also a time to recall the engraving on the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.: “Freedom Is Not Free.”

Each generation of Americans has sacrificed much for these freedoms. It’s our shared responsibility to see that these freedoms are not compromised or discarded so we may always be known as the land of the free.

Mark Lehman is vice president of Governmental Affairs for the Texas Association of REALTORS®. 

Categories: In Lehman's Terms
Tags: in lehman's terms, governmental affairs, legislation, legislative affairs, texas legislature, political affairs


Comments

John Crews on 07/11/2016

Mark,

Thanks for your remarks.  This may motivate many members to vote this fall.
All Realtors should cast an informed vote as well as the public.

It would seem that more Realtors and the public would feel more comfortable voting if they were informed about the various state-wide candidates.  Some time ago, I suggested to you that TREPAC could replace The League of Women Voters by researching each candidate through our local TREPAC committees and make our findings available to our members and the public.  Do you plan to pursue this idea?

Respecfully,

John Crews

Meredith Held on 07/07/2016

Another great article!  Thank you for leading TAR into the next legislative session, protecting property rights.

Craig Smyser on 07/07/2016

You mentioned annexation - does TAR have a position on the current system of forced annexation?

John Harrell on 07/06/2016

Like you and many others, I was moved by the outpouring of patriotism leading up to and on July 4th. It was a brief period during this election year where Republicans and Democrats spoke in a unified voice.

And a big thank you goes out to you and your leadership at Texas Association of Realtors for staying on top of the important issues to keep housing affordable for working families. Your work, including the constitutional amendment banning the real estate transfer tax is greatly appreciated.

Looking forward to future installments of “In Lehman’s Terms”, and your important contributions to our wonderful state during next year’s legislative session.

John M. Stone, CCIM, CPM, CIPS on 07/06/2016

I agree whole-heartedly with your message which should be repeated early and often.  In fact, there appears to be no way to over-emphasize it.  Guardians of private property rights are often unsung and unheralded, but should not be.  Thank you for doing your part to keep the hope of private property ownership alive for homes, condos, commercial-investment properties and rural properties.  It is a right woven throughout the Bill of Rights that needs zealous protection.  Part and parcel to it is free enterprise and the preservation of capitalism.  Real Estate is the foundation stone of capitalism and free enterprise.  The statement espoused by Realtors that “Under All Lies the Land” is so true.  It has been recognized since the Magna Carta was adopted by Runnymede and is just as true and applicable now. Nothing could be more modern and trendy than private property rights.


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