The National Association of Realtors has launched an email campaign designed to educate roughly 82 million consumers about the value of homeownership and the government incentives in place that support it.

Starting last week, the three-part campaign sent out its first set of emails directly from NAR to all U.S. homeowners — about 75 million people — and 7 million aspiring homeowners who are currently renting. NAR anticipates it will take about six weeks for all 82 million or so recipients to receive the emails.

The goal of those initial messages is to build awareness about federal policies in support of homeownership, and to introduce consumers to NAR and HouseLogic, the trade group’s consumer-facing homeownership site, as sources of information on those policies, NAR said.

The more than $15 trillion federal debt has put pressure on Congress to look to real estate as one potential source of funds for budget deficit reduction, NAR said. In its 2012 advocacy agenda, the trade group has outlined several housing-related policies that could be targets for deficit reduction, including the mortgage interest deduction, property tax deduction, cancellation of mortgage debt, and the capital gains exemption on the sale of a home.

"Homeowners already pay 90 percent of all federal income taxes today, so they are disproportionately shouldering the burden of the federal government," NAR said in an FAQ page about the email campaign.

"What’s more, because residential real estate comprises 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, or about $2.3 trillion annually in economic activity, it creates far more in wealth for the country than it receives in assistance from the government, so changes that would increase hurdles to the development and transfer of real estate would reduce the sector’s wealth-generating ability at a time when the country can ill afford that."

The mortgage interest deduction has come under particular scrutiny, with some proposing a limit on the scope of the deduction. The Obama administration has argued that the mortgage interest deduction primarily benefits high-income households rather than the middle class.

In a HouseLogic blog post written last year, Matt Dornic of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, a lobbying and communications firm employed by NAR, claimed the mortgage interest deduction saved the average household more than $3,000 per year and its repeal could cause home values to drop by up to 15 percent and deal "a devastating blow to the housing market."

Whether NAR’s email campaign included a second or third set of emails to consumers depends on whether Congress takes any action to reduce federal support of homeownership, the trade group said. The second set of emails would detail how that support is at risk and the third set would urge homeowners to take action and express their support of homeownership incentives to the government.

"The e-mail campaign is part of a broader consumer outreach strategy that also includes national TV and radio ads, the Real Estate Today radio program, social media, and traditional media coverage. Web browser ads will encourage consumers to click through to," NAR said.

This is the first time NAR has mustered every one of its consumer-focused communication avenues for a public advocacy cause, NAR added.

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