The Tax Plan Cometh

Taxes, TRID, and Cyber Threats

By Frank Pellegrini

We have to address the elephant in the room: tax code changes and their effect on housing in 2018 and beyond. First, NAR reports that next year could see an increase in existing home sales due to an improving economy, job growth and rising confidence; however, it will be limited by continued supply shortages. NAR forecasts home sales will grow to 5.67 million in 2018, the highest point since 2006.

But, and this is a big but,  NAR also predicts that if the House tax bill or a similar version becomes law, it could act as a disincentive to homeownership and hold back strong sales activity.

NAR explains that the House tax bill could affect home sales and even home prices in 2018 and beyond, claiming that in its current form, the bill is a direct tax hike on homeowners. NAR’s analysis of the bill estimates it would cause home values to drop 10% and raise taxes on middle-income earners by an average of $815

On the bright side, Senate Republicans last week weighed in with a tax plan that would preserve the mortgage interest deduction.

We’ll see what happens over the next few months. I am very skeptical that slashing the mortgage interest deduction will have anything but a negative effect on the housing market. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. I encourage all you to contact your representative in Congress and push to preserve the deduction.

Automation will fix TRID? The CFPB has published its final TRID amendments which, as expected, did nothing to fix the issues with fee disclosures (particularly title insurance) on the Closing Disclosure form. Beyond that, we don’t know what the future holds for CFPB as the court case challenging its constitutionality (PHH vs. CFPB) continues, the Republican Congress seems determined to de-fang if not eliminate it and Director Cordray’s term expires in June.

There is some bipartisan movement on the issue in Congress that is worth watching, but a tantalizing question is whether technology will help cure the problems in the long run regardless of what happens in Washington. A technology expert recently made just that case in Scotsman Guide. On related note, NAR recently published a good explanation of blockchain technology and its coming impact on the real estate market.

The scamming crisis. Hackers continue to scam homebuyers out of millions and it’s getting worse. I urge you to read this excellent summary of the situation by real estate writer Ken Harney, and pass the warning along to your staff and customers.

What’s your point of view? Call or email me, or write a comment here. Let’s keep the conversation going.