The National Association of Realtors has officially launched HouseLogic, a Web site that’s aimed at reaching not just buyers and sellers, but consumers "throughout the life cycle of homeownership."
When HouseLogic launched in Beta test mode in November, its debut was largely overshadowed by NAR’s simultaneous announcement that it had formed a subsidiary company to provide a national property database for its members, Realtors Property Resource LLC (RPR).
Unlike real estate search and valuation sites like Realtor.com (operated on behalf of NAR by Move Inc.), Zillow and Trulia, HouseLogic will not offer access to listings or individual properties.
Instead, the site offers a collection of tools, information and advice that’s geared to helping consumers "maintain, protect and increase the value of their homes," NAR said in a press release.
The site also "empowers homeowners who want to get more actively engaged in shaping community life and advocate neighborhood and homeownership issues that matter most to them," NAR said.
In an Inman News column, industry consultant Robert Hahn said HouseLogic could also help NAR generate grassroots support for the group’s political causes.
To get access to all of the site’s tools and obtain "customized recommendations," HouseLogic users must create an account for themselves, and provide the site with an e-mail address.
Users can opt in to receive e-mails on specific topics, including HouseLogic newsletters, "alerts about national issues related to housing," and "alerts regarding state and local political issues that are relevant to me." …CONTINUED
"If NAR can get just 5 percent of the 75 million homeowners to register with HouseLogic and agree to get contacted about a particular piece of legislation or regulation, then the 1.1 million members of NAR will get 3.75 million new allies," Hahn said when the site launched in Beta test mode.
If Congress were to start debating elimination of the mortgage-interest deduction, for example, "NAR may be able to rally homeowners who might otherwise not care too much about tax esoterica" to write their representatives in Congress, Hahn speculated.
In a Jan. 11 article, "Mortgage Interest Deduction Vital to Housing Market," HouseLogic News Editor Dona DeZube warned that "in recent years, the mortgage interest deduction has come under attack."
President Obama’s fiscal-year 2010 budget, for example, proposed limiting the value of the mortgage interest deduction for upper-income taxpayers, DeZube noted.
"In supporting the mortgage interest deduction, you help ensure that tomorrow’s families can follow the same path to homeownership that so many of us have already traveled," DeZube concluded.
Some critics say that as currently structured, the mortgage interest deduction favors the wealthy. Families in higher tax brackets get a bigger percentage of their itemized deductions shaved from their tax bills — 35 cents on the dollar for those in the highest tax bracket for 2010, versus 10 cents on the dollar for those in the lowest.
Harvard University economics professor Edward Glaeser has called the mortgage interest deduction "wildly regressive," and argued that it encourages risky borrowing and pushes up prices in markets where the supply of new homes is constrained.
The Obama administration, which last year unsuccessfully proposed a 28 percent cap on the deduction, has floated the idea again in the 2011 budget (see story).
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