While attending the National Association of REALTORS® (N.A.R.) conference this past November in Chicago, there was an air of uncertainty about housing that I have not seen since 2007 when it became evident that the housing crisis was real. By the end of 2008, the Case-Shillar housing price index reported its largest price drop in its history. Housing prices in most urban and suburban areas struggled to recapture their value before starting to rebound in 2013.
The theme of the 2017 N.A.R. conference, “The Sky’s the Limit”, focused on raising attendees’ real estate careers to higher levels. With a pending massive tax legislation being proposed, the idea of raising your income in 2018 was an immediate challenge to envision. This time, the uncertainty at the major real estate conference of the year was not about the financial stability of households, the economy, or the quality of mortgage underwriting. It was legislation proposing the elimination of mortgage interest and property tax deductions. These deductions have helped to promote and incentivize homeownership, helping millions of families realize the American dream of owning their own home. Eliminating those deductions completely would have a major negative impact on housing markets across the United States.
Credit is certainly due to the N.A.R., as their efforts helped impact the decisions of congress. The deductions stayed in the tax reform that passed into law. However, there are now limitations that affect certain areas more than others. Specifically, high tax states such as California, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, where it is estimated that 30% of homeowners pay more than $10,000 annually in property taxes. The limitation for interest deductions on mortgages above $750,000 will give pause to buyers in the luxury market, and the elimination of the interest deduction on home equity lines combined with the maximum mortgage deductions will also affect individuals who are considering buying a second home. If you are already close to the $750,000 mortgage cap on your primary residence, buying a second home will not have the same benefit of ownership, as the additional interest and property deductions would be eliminated and not tax deductible on that new residence. You also are less likely to take out an equity loan for a down payment on a vacation home.
How local real estate markets will be affected by the new law remains to be seen. What is clear for 2018 is a universal agreement amongst economists that there will be a modest, at best, increase in the number of home sales. This means more competition for real estate buyers trying to purchase an affordable home and an increase in competition amongst REALTORS to build their client base.
What will it take to grow your income in 2018? First, you will need to become an expert. Not an expert in your entire city, but an expert in a micro-market. Real estate consumers will do their research and will want to work with someone they like and trust. That trust will be gained in 2018 by agents who position themselves as micro-market experts, not generalists. Second, develop the thinking of an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur in real estate is not only a business model, it is a mindset. You need a mindset of positivity, growth, and personal accountability in 2018 to raise your income.
To learn more about the 2018 market, micro-markets, and developing a mindset of growth, please view my Facebook live interview with RealTrends at the N.A.R. conference.
Best wishes for growth in 2018!